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Escapees Webinars: 7 Things To Know About RV Insurance

Courtney Wooge, President of FCIS – RV insurance specialists, sat down with us to explain all things RV insurance. Whether you’re a full-time RVer, part-time RVer, or still planning, Courtney offers up valuable information about how RV insurance works and how to get the most out of your RV insurance policy.

Show Notes

This information applies to RVers, van-lifers, skoolies and more.

To learn more about FCIS, visit them at: www.fcisinsurance.com

To get a RV insurance quote through FCIS, visit: www.rvadvantage.com

To learn more about Escapees RV Club, visit us at our website or on our social media profiles below.

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This webinar was recorded as a live broadcast on July 8, 2020.

For those who prefer blog posts to videos, we condensed Courtney and Brandon’s conversation to an easy-to-read article! Click the button below to read Courtney’s seven things all RVers should know about insurance.

Transcript

Brandon Hatcher:

Hi. Welcome to Escapees RV Club Webinars. I’m Brandon Hatcher. I work in the marketing department for Escapees RV Club, and I’m here tonight with Courtney, the president of FCIS Insurance, and we’re here to talk about RV insurance and what not. So Courtney, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you got started in the RV insurance business?

Courtney Wooge:

Sure. Thanks, Brandon, and welcome everybody. I know this isn’t everybody’s favorite topic, but I will try to keep it as entertaining as possible because it is certainly necessary. As Brandon said, my name is Courtney Wooge, and I’ve been a part of the Escapees rallies and club for my eight-year career here. My father founded FCIS Insurance in 1978 which was the same year the Escapees started, and I purchased it eight years ago and worked for a few years and then became president six years ago. Our main office is here in Forest City, Iowa and I also have another location out in Collingswood, New Jersey that has some staff as well. I am an RVer myself so am very active in this lifestyle, and our niche here at the agency is RV insurance, obviously, and we are licensed in every state except for one, and that is Hawaii. Because I’ve been there once. I don’t know about you, Brandon, but I didn’t see many personal RVs.

Brandon Hatcher:

I haven’t been there, but I wasn’t planning to take my RV when I went.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, it can be quite expensive to get across the water, but we are licensed nationwide and we’ve been doing specialized RV insurance since 1981 and the reason how our agency got into the RV insurance space is because my father founded and offered the first replacement cost RV policy, which essentially helped the depreciation on those folks that buy a brand new unit.

Brandon Hatcher:

Nice.

Courtney Wooge:

For me personally, my wife and four kids travel around in our RV, and get to meet a lot of fun people. We were supposed to be going to the rallies this summer but COVID-19 had other ideas, so we’re all doing these video platforms and having some fun.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, well at least we have this to share and we’re not stuck alone. 

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I understand Brandon you want to talk about a very important topic to the Escapees Club, because you guys have a lot of full-timers.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, and full-timers, even though we’re in the same vehicles as part-timers, we’re a little bit different out here on the road, so we feel like it’s important that people understand full-timing and full-timing insurance.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, so that’s a lot of people will try and go to their local agent, and I know a lot of insurance agents in this world. They’re all great people, and we get a lot of referrals from local agents specifically for the full-timers because we have the products for the full-time community. I’ll start, Brandon, with the definition of what’s considered a full-timer, and that’s 150 nights. So if you sleep in your RV 150 nights or more in any given year, you are technically what the insurance carrier calls a full-timer.

               What does that actually mean? Well, on that policy you get what’s called full-timer’s liability, and that’s very important because that is broad based liability that acts a lot like your homeowner’s insurance liability that gives you liability outside when you’re doing activities. I give the example of golfing. You’re out golfing and your ball hits another house or hits somebody else. Your full-timer’s liability will actually extend to those events.

Brandon Hatcher:

Alright, that’s interesting. I’ve been a full-timer for six years. I’m sure Kerensa knows, but I didn’t know that.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, my management team at home typically pays the bills and reads the literature as well. Except for when it comes to insurance. That’s my deal. But there are further of 150 nights. There are two types of full-timers. There are ones that are a 365 full-timer. They do not sleep in another location. They do not have a condo. They do not have a cabin. That is rated one way, and as well the person that just travels a lot in six months of the year theirself and the other six months of the year maybe they’re up in Iowa and they have a condo or something up here. So you’re still a full-timer if you’re sleeping more than 150 nights in the RV, but if you’re no stick and bricks that’s a 365’er, but if you still have an address that is a house or a location, you’re rated less because logic says you’re going to stay there for some of the nights throughout the year.

Brandon Hatcher:

I’m going to put you on the spot. Can you ballpark a percentage that you would pay more if you didn’t have a house versus having a house?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, obviously we get that question a lot. I can tell you it is definitely less, but it depends on where that house is that you’re going to, right? If it’s in Texas, they’re probably going to say, “Well, you’re going to stay more time in your RV.” But if it’s in a place like in the North, they know you’ve got to travel up there and it’s probably going to be a little cheaper, because your garaging ZIP code is less expensive in more wide open spaces. As far as a percentage, I can’t, aside from somebody calling in. That’s a good question.

Brandon Hatcher:

It’s like trying to ask a lawyer for a yes or no answer.

Courtney Wooge:

That’s exactly right. Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Brandon Hatcher:

I think what shocks a lot of people is you may have a travel trailer or something, and it may cost you almost nothing to insure if you have a house and it’s not full-time. Then all of a sudden you go on the road, and there’s this expense you didn’t quite expect how much insurance might cost.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, for sure. And yes, is a full-timer’s liability for that rate a little more expensive than a policy like mine that only has 30-day usage? Yes, but you have the right coverage, and you buy insurance in the event you have a claim, and when the adjuster asks or sees that you’ve used it and are a full-timer, I don’t want to be the one to try and uncover that situation and try to help get that claim. There would be no question if you have that liability. Everything would flow through normal. So it’s important to just be upfront and honest, and that full-timer, typically they’re paying less for their homeowner’s insurance, because they don’t have a big house anymore and they don’t need to insure all that, so they’re saving on their homeowner’s because they’re living in their RV.

Brandon Hatcher:

If you guys have any questions for Courtney about insurance, RV insurance, throw them in the chat and I’ll catch them when I see them. I’m just going to pepper you with my questions.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah.

Brandon Hatcher:

Actual cash value, replacement value, and then agreed value. How do those work?

Courtney Wooge:

Another great question. That is a typical RV policy, so you don’t have to be a full-timer to get that particular provision. Those settlement options are very near and dear to my heart, so the first thing is total loss replacement, which is what my father offered the first policy with Foremost Insurance back in 1981. When you buy a brand new unit or you’re the original owner of one that is up to 18 months old, you can get replacement cost, and that is for the first five model years, if you have a total loss on your RV, the insurance carrier will purchase for you a new like make and model RV to make you whole, and in some cases potentially a little better because you’re going to be getting a brand new RV. How that came up is because of, as we all know when we buy an RV, we know it’s going to depreciate pretty strong on a brand new one, and that really is the coverage to help offset that depreciation with respect to having an insurance loss.

               Now the other cool thing about it is years six through ten of that policy is actually purchase price guarantee, so let’s use round figures of $75,000. You purchase your RV for 75,000. The first five model years, it’s full replacement cost. Years six through ten, because you have that documented bill of sale, and you have a total loss, the carriers going to provide you $75,000 towards the purchase of a new RV.

Brandon Hatcher:

Oh, nice.

Courtney Wooge:

Versus what you said, the third thing is ACV. A typical actual cash value policy that is normally had by all of the captive carriers. They will just give you the settlement option of what it’s valued at a time of loss. So a six year old coach that was purchased for 75,000 new is definitely going to not be worth $75,000 anymore. It’s going to be probably worth half of that, if that. So that’s the big … Then there’s this agreed value piece which we’ll get into when we talk about conversions because that’s your second topic. When somebody does a remodel or converts their van, their bus, whatever. If you have a value you want to lock in today on a used one, we can lock in that value for a certain number of years depending on the carrier. You just have to prove its value. You can get it appraised, you can use the bill of sale at the dealership, or you can have a third party. Well I said the appraisal I guess. Third party appraiser. Just have it appraised and we can use that as the figure.

Brandon Hatcher:

Nice. Let’s talk about our stuff in our RV, because I know a lot of these plans have some coverage in them but I know what we carry on our RV today, it’s not usually enough.

Courtney Wooge:

Yep, that’s great segue. That was the third thing I had on my list what makes an RV policy different than an auto policy is we can put up to $99,000 of personal contents on an RV policy in $1,000 increments. So that’s step one. Your normal auto carrier can’t put personal contents, because you dump your car out, you’ve got change and ChapStick and loose items. We can even go further. If you want to schedule items like you do on a homeowner’s policy, if you have a diamond ring, if you have expensive camera equipment, if you’ve got expensive kayaks, we can schedule that so that way that value is locked in if it’s stolen or you have a loss on your RV.

Brandon Hatcher:

Nice. Sorry I keep saying nice. Need to stop that. Everybody drink when I say nice. Vicki actually had a question that relates to this. She has a travel trailer and she’s pulling it with a Tahoe. If she were to … What do you put the extra policy on, the extra scheduled items? Do you put it on the trailer or the truck?

Courtney Wooge:

Definitely on the trailer, because if you’re a full-timer and you don’t have a homeowner’s policy to place those extra items on, then that’s what the RV policy is designed for. You can add personal contents. Again, up to $99,000 worth of equipment as personal contents. Your Tahoe policy or your standard auto policy, most carriers do not have that personal contents additions. Some are starting to, but certainly not to the value of $99,000 that we can for an RV policy.

Brandon Hatcher:

Now she is chiming in here. She’s not a full-timer though, so would that go on her homeowner’s policy then?

Courtney Wooge:

You can do either or, Vicki. You can do either or. You can put them on your homeowner’s policy if you own a home and you want to put that on your homeowner’s policy, or if it stays in your travel trailer and that’s where it’s going to have a loss at and that’s where it’s going to happen, then you certainly can put it on the RV policy and schedule that on as personal contents with your travel trailer policy.

Brandon Hatcher:

And she would still be covered if she took her computer with her in the car or on a hike and it got stolen or something, right?

Courtney Wooge:

Yes, absolutely.

Brandon Hatcher:

Nice.

Courtney Wooge:

That’s correct.

Brandon Hatcher:

I did it again.

Courtney Wooge:

The key to that whole thing, Brandon, is just document it. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but if you have a concern that, specifically a laptop is an expensive laptop or cam equipment, take some pictures of it. We’ll definitely put the right value of it, and we’ll have that. In the event of a loss, we can easily give that to the adjuster and say, “Here’s a picture of what was stolen or damaged. Here’s the value of it. Let’s help this customer out.”

Brandon Hatcher:

I noticed when we were signing up for our first policy, it had a lot of personal property coverage, but it was by category. So it was like $1,000 for computers, and $1,000 for cameras, but we had nice cameras that would obviously go over that, so we ended up scheduling that. Is that still happening, or do you-

Courtney Wooge:

On an RV policy, it’s a little more loose. What you’re talking about is a homeowner’s policy that has what’s called an ACORD form. I don’t want to totally geek out with insurance, but on a homeowner’s ACORD standard form, most carriers have baseline limits for different things that are naturally in a home. Like $200 in cash, so much for cam equipment. So one way if you’re a heavy RVer, there aren’t any standard types of equipment to have values on. You just simply tell us the value, document it, and that’s what we put on it.

Brandon Hatcher:

Okay. Then just one last question to round this out. Would a renter’s policy also cover your trailer equipment?

Courtney Wooge:

It can. Yeah, it can. A renter’s policy is essentially in my world still a homeowner’s policy. It’s an HO, I forget what the insurance, HO4 or 5. You just don’t own the home. All you’re covering is your contents inside the home. Again, in that circumstance, let us know who the carrier is and how it’s scheduled, and it may make better sense to put it on the RV policy. It may not make sense with rate. Leave that on your renter’s. We would want to know the entire picture.

Brandon Hatcher:

Great. Did it again. Alright, so I’m going to bounce back to some earlier questions, unless you want to geek out on full-timer’s insurance more.

Courtney Wooge:

Well back to full-timers, I want to highlight one more thing Brandon before we take another question. If you have a claim and you’re a 365 or even a heavy user and you can’t use your RV, guess where you’re going to need to stay.

Brandon Hatcher:

At a hotel.

Courtney Wooge:

At a hotel or someplace, so a normal auto policy does not have what we call loss of use. I take that back. They do. It’s just very, very minimal. On an RV policy, and specifically full-timers, we always recommend that you have a big coverage for loss of use. You can go up to $7,500 worth of coverage. If your RV needs to be fixed for a whole month, or two months, it could get quite spendy finding other arrangements to stay. So 750 is the least amount we put on policies, if you’re just a casual user like me. If you’re a full-timer we recommend you go to at least 1,500, and that’ll typically cover a couple weeks in a hotel if your RV needs to be fixed in a shop somewhere.

Brandon Hatcher:

What was that called again?

Courtney Wooge:

Loss of use, or emergency expense are the two insurance terms that are used on your policy. I do see a question if I could just jump to it there is, can you bundle auto and umbrella and home? The answer is yes. We have five different carriers that we look at the whole circumstance, and what you’re getting at is, is it cheaper if you bundle? And again, depending on the state, it can be. We always recommend to the full-timer, let’s get your RV and your toad at a minimum, because if you’re involved in an accident, guess what it’s going to affect. Both of those. So you really want one carrier, and a lot of times it’s one deductible with that one accident.

Brandon Hatcher:

Now just since we’re talking about toad, and for those of you that are new to RVing, toad is the car that’s towed behind you, and we refer to it as a T-O-A-D toad. When you’re towing a car behind a motor home and you’re in an accident, is that all covered through the motor home’s insurance since you’re towing it, or is it different?

Courtney Wooge:

The liability would be. If the car comes unhooked and it veers off and it hits somebody, that answer is yes. But the physical damage is not, to the auto. Now, if that auto comes unhooked and hits something else, that something else, there’s your liability coverage. So that’s why we always recommend if you’re doing that, let’s get your motor home and your auto. It’s two policies, but let’s place them with the best carrier together so that way you have liability and physical damage on both of the vehicles and you have one claim in any accident.

               But I understand with premium and price, some people like to split their auto off, and we get that, but your question is valid, Brandon. Yes, anything you tow behind a powered vehicle, your liability is covered from that powered vehicle. Same thing with a truck to a trailer. Your truck’s liability policy, your truck’s policy will cover the liability when it’s hooked up, but guess what. When you’re camping and those jacks are down, you need a specific RV policy. That’s why of course we always advocate, if you have a fifth wheel, if you have a travel trailer, put an RV-specific policy on that so that way your physical damage, your campsite liability. You get all those homeowner’s provisions when you’re camping in it. 

Brandon Hatcher:

That makes a lot of sense. Someone had a question here. I thought it’d be a good time just to square it away. You are FCIS, but you’re also RV Advantage.

Courtney Wooge:

That’s right. This is a constant battle between my marketing department, right? Who are we? Our parent name is FCIS Insurance, but what I found out when I joined the business is that nobody knew we were an RV insurance specialist. Some people knew, but for marketing purposes, when you get our policy, it says FCIS Insurance on it. That’s our legal name where we have taken to market. We also do other types of insurance other than RV. We do some commercial. We’ll do businesses. We do life. We do some health, umbrella. We do all kinds of different policies, but our main niche in the nationwide world is RV insurance, so what I did is I just trademarked another brand name called RV Advantage. RV Advantage, if you go to that website, that’s sole purpose is just to collect your information so we can give you a quote. And digitally, if you go to FCISInsurance.com and you click on RV Insurance, it’s going to take you to RVAdvantage.com.

Brandon Hatcher:

And you are not an insurer specifically, right? I mean, the question here was are there more than two insurance companies, or do you operate like an independent agency, or do you underwrite these RV policies?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, I should back up. We are an independent insurance agency by distribution channel, so there are three ways to buy insurance in the United States. Number one, you can go to direct. You can go to GEICO.com. You can go to Progressive.com. You can put in your information and you’ll get somebody on the 13th story in a big city that probably knows nothing about RVs. You can buy it online. Second way you can buy it is through what’s called a captive agent. I’ve got a lot of good friends in that captive world where they only sell one product. That is State Farm, Allstate, American Family. Those agents you see that have one carrier.

               I and our agency is an independent agent that represents multiple carriers, and we have a niche just in the RV insurance space. In the RV space, we represent five different carriers, and I’ll go through them. We’ve got Foremost. We’ve got Nationwide. We’ve got National General, and we’ve got Progressive, and Safeco. So depending on the state that you’re in and you domicile and you register and you garage your unit, we have multiple options that we can present to you and say, “Hey, we as an agent think this is the best for your situation.” Does that make sense?

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, that clears that up. That’s why we know you as the person who can find insurance when other people can’t, because you’ve got tentacles out there that can look for things.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, that’s the point of this education. Full-timer’s RV insurance is challenging to find. We get calls daily saying, “I tried to talk to my buddy that I golf with that’s an agent, and he can’t get full-timer’s coverage for me.”

Brandon Hatcher:

I’ve even had issues. I’ve called Progressive direct and asked for full-timer coverage, and the person’s, you know, they were just reading their script, but they were like, “We don’t offer full-timer coverage.” And then I go through you and I have full-timer coverage. It’s just a matter of like you said, the person answering the phone doesn’t get hit with that question a lot, so they don’t know where to look for it.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, exactly and I don’t want to toot my horn too much, but we do this all day everyday, and twice on Sundays, so it’s just kind of what we do.

Brandon Hatcher:

Did you hear that? He’s open on Sunday.

Courtney Wooge:

If you happen to be one that knows my cell phone. I keep that mostly private. We are open Saturdays though. That is important to know. We are open Saturdays.

Brandon Hatcher:

I’m going to just jump back to an earlier question from Debbie. Kind of specific, but they have a vehicle that I guess according to the brochure it’s a class C, but according to the VIN number it’s a class B, and they heard that maybe it would be cheaper to insure if it were considered a class C, and is that worth fighting about?

Courtney Wooge:

The answer is yes, so that’s where we talk to underwriters and we take pictures and we take what you believe it to be, and we talk to our specific RV insurance underwriters in saying, “This is Debbie’s risk. We think this should be officially a class C.” If that’s what you wholeheartedly believe it is, then we have access to talk to the underwriters and try to get that done. But if you’re asking which one’s cheaper, again, without quoting it and as a B and a C, I’d love to be able to spit that out but we do hundreds of quotes a week and the models change, and believe it or not throughout this COVID situation, a lot of our customers may have gotten some form of a credit or refund because the usage went down, but now it’s sprung back the other way where everybody’s starting to use their RV again because it’s safe and it’s a way to get around. So this market is interesting and I love tracking it because we’re told everything just went like this, and then everything was like, “Well wait a minute. We can use this RV, and let’s go buy one because it’s safe.”

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, we’re seeing the same thing. It’s like all of the sudden, people don’t want to get in planes and stuff and it’s a nice way to get around. I’m in a cabin right now, but the RV that’s sitting outside is a nice way to get around and stay in your own space.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. I drove to see my son that’s in the United States Army in Washington, DC a month and a half ago, and it was awesome. It was me and the truckers that were on the road, and you almost had the road to yourself and it was cool.

Brandon Hatcher:

Let’s jump to the next topic, and then I’ll circle back and grab some of these questions but I see some questions here that already relate to it, and it’s something that we have a lot of friends that are buying vans, converting vans, or buying, looking at buses and stuff and it’s kind of the thing to do nowadays is to customize and build your own deal, so wanted to talk to you about insurance for conversions.

Courtney Wooge:

Absolutely. So back to your settlement option question, this is the perfect example of those folks that need an agreed value policy. If you’re taking something where a regular agent puts in the VIN number and they’re like, “Well this is telling me it’s only worth $2,000,” where you know you’ve got 30 more thousand dollars into it. So the whole trick to doing that when you redo that process in the insurance company’s eyes is, was it professionally done? And that’s kind of an open ended statement because a lot of people don’t take it to a dealership or an approved third party and hire them to do everything. A lot of people have the skills to do the plumbing and the electric and everything else to make an RV. So I just talked to some of my agents today to get the latest and greatest details, and they said with pictures and proof that it was done correctly, to their underwriting knowledge, as long as you don’t have duct tape and it looks like it’s been patched together with some low level countertops and there’s big gaps everywhere. If it looks professionally done throughout the process, then we can typically get you an agreed value policy, if you can provide that worth. Give us some receipts, give us some values that we can agree to, and then you lock in that value if it has a total loss.

Brandon Hatcher:

So the key there would be just shoot tons of photos while you’re building.

Courtney Wooge:

Absolutely, and that’s even good to do outside the insurance world if you want to go sell it one day. Because that person’s going to pull up the VIN on NADA and say, “Well here’s what it’s worth without this stuff. What do you have in it?” And when you show that transformation picture, then I think you would have a better chance to sell it. Then also you have those pictures for insurance purposes, so the whole thing is to do it that way.

               The other thing you can do Brandon is there are third party appraisers, and I’ll give the Airstreamers as an example, because the Airstream trailer is the perfect example of people that buy those things and redo them, because they typically hold their value. So there are third party appraisals that will come out just like a house appraisal and put a value of what they think it’s worth. Insurance carriers will accept that as locking in the agreed value policy.

Brandon Hatcher:

That’s nice to know. I didn’t realize there was as much flexibility there. I thought they had books and they just kind of go by the book and that’s what it is.

Courtney Wooge:

Well again, candidly, and again, not to toot my own horn, but we have access to those specific RV underwriters and we know what channel to get it into, or if you happen to call direct or somebody that isn’t understanding of the RV lifestyle, you’re going to run into some roadblocks. It’s not impossible. Not here to tell you that, but there are going to be a few roadblocks in your way, and that’s why if you don’t use me, use an RV insurance specialist that just knows the industry.

Brandon Hatcher:

Are there requirements for what’s considered an RV versus just a van? Like bathroom, kitchen, that kind of thing?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, self-contained. What are some of the terms I’ve seen? Self-contained bathroom, cooking, and/or bedroom facilities. So again, it’s a little broad. I would say if you have a bedroom and/or a kitchen or bathroom, and it’s self-contained, that’s an RV. And you’ve got some value in it, right? Some people when they redo it, and if it burns up or if something happens to it and they don’t care about the physical damage of it, well yeah, we can always put liability only on it to make it drivable and to meet the state requirements. If you don’t care the money you put into it, if it’s just got a bedroom or it’s just got a small bathroom. We can get you a liability policy, but it’s not going to have all those RV provisions on it.

Brandon Hatcher:

Okay. So yeah, Debbie was asking. I think we answered this pretty well, but how do you insure a self built high top van for about eight months of full-timing? So take lots of pictures, document it, call Courtney.

Courtney Wooge:

You bet. Yeah, you know, you buy a Mercedes-Benz chassis or a Dodge ProMaster. I get it. We have those people call us everyday, and I would love to have the time to do that and I totally get why people do it. Just, the insurance go is going to want to make sure it’s been done right, so take lots of pictures, keep your receipts, and we can get you a policy for sure.

Brandon Hatcher:

Then the other side of conversions we see a lot are school buses, or airport shuttle buses. We talked about this before. I know they’re a little bit of an issue lately.

Courtney Wooge:

They are, and I have that on my list. If the VIN brings up a school bus, if it’s like a Thomas, or every carrier has their different blacklisted VINs right now but at the moment, Schoolies, we cannot accept new business on our carriers if you want physical damage in an RV policy. We can get you liability only, again, but if you’ve redone it here recently and it’s a Thomas or a school bus type Schoolie, the carriers have had lots of claims from what I’ve understood and if you currently have a policy they’re keeping you on the books, but anything new, and this just happened within the last month. They’re saying, “We’re not going to write any new ones.”

               Now, am I advocating to bring that back? Of course I am. I’m trying to convince them. Okay, well the way to do that is just of course take those premium dollars up, which nobody likes. But I’m telling you, the insurance carrier is not going to lose money for too long before they start making a change. So at the moment we’re in this little weird spot with Schoolies, and it’ll be corrected, but at the moment we can’t allow any new business, and that at the moment is just unfortunate.

Brandon Hatcher:

Even from just liability?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, from a liability standpoint, we still can. So if you want liability only, we can. It’s just going to be a bare bones. It may be more expensive than what you’re thinking because of it’s a school bus.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, it’s a big, heavy vehicle. It can do a lot of damage.

Courtney Wooge:

Absolutely. Absolutely. But an RV policy, we’re not allowed to put those provisions on.

Brandon Hatcher:

That’s too bad. Hopefully that works out.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, but your Silver Eagles or your Prevost, those types of buses that are designed for an RV chassis, yeah, we’re still open for business for that. It’s just specifically those that were originally intended to be built as a school bus.

Brandon Hatcher:

Then Scott has a question about converting a cargo trailer, so do you have trouble with that?

Courtney Wooge:

We have had trouble with it. It’s not impossible, but again, it has to go through another step or two of underwriting, and we can’t just key it in like we do your RV or my RV, Brandon. Right? You put in the year, make, and model. It comes up. The system knows exactly what it is. So for these conversions, we just have to go through another couple steps and it may take a couple extra days of underwriting to get you an answer yes or no. But yeah, just like converting a van or a bus, people like you Scott are looking at a trailer to put a self-contained bathroom, bedroom, cooking facilities in there, and I get it. You’re going to want to insure that correctly so you don’t lose your value if something happens to it.

Brandon Hatcher:

And the second part, is it cheaper to insure if he gets it retitled in South Dakota?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. The reason why people title those things in South Dakota or Montana is for tax purposes, and here about two years ago, insurance carriers started rating more on where it’s garaged. So this brings up a whole address situation with RV policies. The olden days of tagging it, registering it in Montana and South Dakota, and having that as where your policy, that is starting to go away. The carrier cares. The question that’s going to be asked for underwriting is, where do you keep your RV when you’re not using it? And if you’re a full-timer using it all the time, well then you’ve got the full-timers risk and that’s everywhere.

               But if you’re garaging it in Colorado but you’re registering it in South Dakota, no problem. You get your registration and your license plates and you’re domiciled in South Dakota, but your policy is actually in Colorado because that’s where your unit is at most the time, and you may get your mail for a premium reminder at Escapees mail forwarding out of Livingston, Texas. So I hope I’ve answered that, Scott. With respect to if it’s cheaper, we don’t know until we run those different scenarios, and trust me. Over the last two years, all the insurance carriers know exactly why people are doing that, which is fine. It’s all above board. You’ve titled it in one state but yet you keep it in another state.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, I think there’s a few questions about location, yeah, it really just depends on what’s happened in that location in the past. I know ours went up a lot in Texas because Texas had a lot of hailstorms. We didn’t have any claim, though.

Courtney Wooge:

Yep, that’s exactly right. Because technology, the same thing we’re doing right here, insurance carriers are also spending money on getting real particular in using big data to understand. We’ve had risks where somebody, one customer had one ZIP code, and one ZIP code away the premium was double. Because that ZIP code had a higher theft rate and just a higher crime rate, and it was just one ZIP code away. It doesn’t seem like much, but one ZIP code could just be one block away where the line is at. So they’re using big data, and my answer as an agent to that is, just tell us your circumstance and we’ll get to it so that way you’re insured correctly. We have the options for it, and if your circumstance changes, give us a call, or email us. We have a full customer experience team. We get a lot of people that go from full-time to not full-time back to full-time. They’re going back and forth, and every time their situation changes they just call us, and no big deal. I can promise we’ll be friendly and we’ll try to be understanding of your situation.

Brandon Hatcher:

I know when we were looking at insurance in Florida, because we moved domicile from Texas to Florida, the Miami ZIP code is one number different than the Bushnell ZIP code, and I accidentally plugged that in and I was like, “Whoa,” and decided to stay. But then Bushnell, Florida being on the west side of Florida doesn’t get so much hurricane damage, so the insurance is pretty nice there.

Courtney Wooge:

Yes. Even though RVs are mobile, the insurance carrier, they still want to rate it based on where that is garaged. It’s called the garaging address. Where you’re going to be at the campground, where you’re going to be keeping it most of the time. Because that’s where it’s going to have a loss, typically. And back to the South Dakota guy, if you register in South Dakota but yet you’re in Florida and you have a loss in Florida, well guess what the adjuster’s going to ask you. “Hey, this is a South Dakota policy. Are you just down here for a few weeks?” Again, most people are honest and the campground would probably, you know, “Hey, this guy’s been here for four months,” right? That’s the reason why you want to keep things right.

Brandon Hatcher:

Well if you guys have any more questions feel free to drop them in the chat. I see one more up above. It’s a little bit in the weeds but I thought let’s give them a freebie.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do a get in the weeds one. Let’s see if I can address it.

Brandon Hatcher:

It’s not that bad. Now I’m trying to find it again in my list here. Here. This one’s an easy one, and then there’s another one. They have a … Sorry.

Courtney Wooge:

It’s says, “My Safeco auto liability, in the policy it says the trailer must be on the declarations page for the liability to extend to the trailer. Does that make sense?” It does, because some carriers request that so they know, but depending on the state. I don’t know what state you’re in, Vicki. That could be a state requirement, and that would come out in our questioning depending on the state. Some states do and some states don’t.

Brandon Hatcher:

I think she’s in Texas. Gulf Coast.

Courtney Wooge:

Okay. So again, I don’t have my into the weeds rating sheet in front of me, but I’ll give an example of Iowa. In Iowa, you don’t have to list what you’re pulling behind your truck. Your liability just extends, but in the state of Texas, Safeco has to follow those what are called DOI rules, Department of Insurance. They request that you list what you’re going to be pulling behind something, and that must be a state requirement.

Brandon Hatcher:

Okay. Here’s one that’s a bit more in the weeds, but it’s a good one. I’ll have to read it to you because it’s too long to put on screen, but they had a 2004 Montana Fifth Wheel, and in 2006 the hitch box, the welds broke in five different places. So they had insurance with full replacement cost if totaled. They filed a claim but it was denied because the claim adjuster saw some rust, but the photos show that the brakes were bright and fresh. You could tell it just broke with no rust. So they denied the claim. They tried to find an attorney to assist them. Couldn’t find anybody to deal with the insurance company. Is it something where you guys would step in a little harder?

Courtney Wooge:

That is a great point. We have our own claims manager on staff, and in those sticky situations, I have gotten involved in some sticky situations. Some that were really, really sticky, but yes. That’s where I’m going to pat the independent agent channel a little bit on the back. Not just me. We try and advocate in those cases, so obviously I’m not going to say no to that. “Sorry man, you’re on your own,” but my history would speak for itself if you want to ask people that have had claims with us that have been sticky.

               Whoever you bought that through, if it was direct, again, good luck. But if it was through an agent, I would kindly ask them that, “Hey, can you ask this to be reviewed by a claims manager and somebody at the carrier?” Have it be reviewed by somebody at a higher level, because if you feel you’ve been wronged there, there’s no harm in asking for a manager to review all that. And that’s what I would do is ask the adjuster who their manager is and just professionally say, “I want your leader to review this,” and then I’m going to go up the ladder as high as I can depending on the circumstance.

Brandon Hatcher:

So you got to pull the old, “Can I speak to the manager?”

Courtney Wooge:

That’s right. That’s exactly right. And there’s another way of course. I could go in my sales contacts, and we have from a sales side a large pool with Escapee members and a large book of business that we have in the RV world. That I think does give some merit to, okay, well this guy appears to be fighting here, because he’s an RV insurance specialist and he appears to be worth his time. So that’s without getting in too much of the weeds, that what I would do and that’s what I would ask you to do is ask your agent to ask for the manager on the claim side.

Brandon Hatcher:

Then Andre has a question. They’re about to pick domicile for tax purposes. It seems that that’s the primary factor rather than insuring the RV, but there any other things to watch out for?

Courtney Wooge:

Yep. Here’s my shameless disclaimer that if any of you know Shawn Loring who’s the CEO of Escapees who’s an attorney. Him and I go back and forth a lot, but I am not an attorney, nor am I a CPA, so there are a lot of things done in the RV world that come by a lot of advice of the attorney and your CPA. So what I would say is, we can get you an insurance that’s registered in any state and that you garage it in any state. Are there different factors with rate? Yeah, absolutely. But I think you need to pick a domicile that makes sense to you on rate. Where you want to vote, where you can prove that you’re in that state.

Brandon Hatcher:

I can channel my inner Shawn and K. Susie Adams from Loring and Associates that domicile is all about intent also. So you’re declaring your intent that when your big crazy RV journey’s over, that’s where I want to live. Now, you can change your mind, because we’re free to change our minds, but also it should be a place that you’re going to travel through, a place you’re going to set up bank accounts, and a place you want to vote and you’re probably going to maybe want to have a doctor there. Do as much as you can to make it look like this is where you want to live.

               I do know we had our own reasons for switching from Texas to Florida, but one of the things I did in that decision was I looked at registration fees on my vehicles, I looked at renewal fees on my vehicles, and I looked at all my insurances. My health insurance, my auto insurance, my RV insurance, life insurance, all that stuff, and ran it by the ZIP codes just to see if it made sense. Because we were already domiciled in Texas. We didn’t have to move, but we kind of wanted to move to Florida, and then the numbers also worked in our favor so it made it easy.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah Andre, the insurance guy usually comes third from the CPA. You highlighted tax purposes. People care about how much tax position they have. Then their attorney to figure out how they intend to domicile, and then of course the lowly insurance man like me usually gets that information and then provides you the premium options. But premium on insurance is usually not as big as some tax and some legal ramifications. But it does play. I mean health insurance is a lot to people right now, and those premiums are quite high and I don’t sell a lot of health insurance. I only have Iowa as an option. There are other specialists in this world that is licensed nationwide for health. I am not. I just do P&C nationwide, so I understand that is a big deciding factor, like you mentioned, Brandon.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, that was our major motivation, because we were self employed and we needed to be insured, or we wanted to be insured, so we needed to go where we could get it. Back to RV insurance, Debbie has a question. Do you recommend a rider for an e-bike? Those are very popular and fairly spendy nowadays.

Courtney Wooge:

Yep. So that actually goes into personal property. It’s not a rider per se. It is an endorsement I guess is the terminology on your RV policy to add to the personal effects, because you’re attaching it or you’re carrying it, and yeah, if that e-bike was damaged or walked away, how would you feel about that? What’s the value of it? If it’s a $1,000 e-bike and you want to insure that, absolutely. We’ll add it as an additional $1,000 to your emergency expense, we’ll take a picture of it, and put it in the file.

Brandon Hatcher:

Cool. I’m not seeing anymore questions, if anybody wants to drop one real quick. Do you have anything more you want to tell us about the exciting world of insurance?

Courtney Wooge:

Well, aside from everything else going crazy in this world, I’ve never seen such a dip and then all of the dealers are telling me they can’t get anything on their lot anymore. I mean, people are understanding what I’ve always known in my life, and you too, Brandon, that RVing is cool, and this is an absolute way to travel and to control your own destiny, and I think it’s great to see and I just want to be the person to educate you because the last thing people think about, unfortunately sometimes, is insurance. So the more of those of you that are on this call or viewing this spread the word that hey, there is options for RV insurance out there. Again, my whole solemn thing in this world is, look at an RV specialist. Whether it’s me or somebody else in the United States. There are a few of us that do it very well. Try to get educated by an actual RV insurance specialist, because you will be happy at claim time that you at least took that step.

Brandon Hatcher:

Go ahead.

Courtney Wooge:

I was just going to say that the full-timer community and the conversion community are two of the ones that seek that education.

Brandon Hatcher:

You mentioned quickly earlier that you can change your policy from full-time to part-time. A question just came in from Danny about can you drop it down if you’re storing for several months?

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, so you again, depending on the state and I’ll give some examples here. You can take off liability if you’re not driving it and collision, because you’re not driving it. You want to leave comprehensive on in the event something happens to it, but in some states you have to report your insurance to the DMV, right? And if you pull liability off, they’re going to report that to the DMV, and then the DMV, guess what they’re going to do. They’re going to ask for your license plates and your registration. So now when you want to drive it, you’ve got to start that whole process again to get plates and register and all those things.

               So here’s what I would say. If you’re truly going to store it for more than three or four months, and I always say six months. If you’re truly going to put it in storage because your situation has changed, and you’re going to go to a cabin and there’s no way on God’s green earth you’re going to get back in that RV in six months, that’s intent and that’s a good example. But if you’re just going to put it in storage and there’s a chance, don’t risk the insurance. For the $75 you might save, to me as an agent, I may be talking out of turn but it’s just simply not worth it. Because I’ve seen examples where we take those things off, you put it in storage, and you’re excited to go on a trip, and you fire the thing up, and you were just going to drive it two blocks, and that’s when something happens.

Brandon Hatcher:

Right. It always happens close to home.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. Darwin’s Law or whatever law that is. Newton’s Law, or whatever.

Brandon Hatcher:

Murphy’s Law.

Courtney Wooge:

Murphy’s Law. Whatever it is. Can you save money? Yes. Do I recommend it? Only if your intent is truly to leave it in storage for a finite amount of time.

Brandon Hatcher:

Alright. We have a couple questions related. One relates back to the e-bike, but then also Andre has a question about carrying a motorcycle on a rack on the rear of the RV. Any advice there? And it looks like you’ve got a sleeper agent in the chat, Jackie Richardson.

Courtney Wooge:

Ah, right on. Yeah, she’s my marketing manager. Is she correcting me?

Brandon Hatcher:

No, no. She’s just chiming in and helping to answer as well.

Courtney Wooge:

Awesome. Hey Jackie. To Andre’s question, here’s what I would say. If your motorcycle, you would almost behoove yourself to put a policy on that motorcycle. Just like when you pull a toad. If you’ve got a 650 and it’s a nice motorcycle and it has some value, I would recommend, let’s put a policy on that motorcycle. They’re not very expensive, and let’s just insure that motorcycle standalone. But yes, if you’re driving the motor home and your motorcycle comes off and damages something else, that would fall as a liability from your RV that was attached and because you hit a bump and it wasn’t attached, just like your toad, your liability would extend to that.

Brandon Hatcher:

So same for the e-bike. If the e-bike falls off the rack, same thing.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. Same thing as your air conditioner wasn’t affixed right and that thing came undone and plopped right down and hit something. Anything that falls off your RV. If you throw your spouse out the window and your spouse lands on something, you may have more problems than insurance, but … I don’t recommend doing that if you’re going over two miles an hour.

Brandon Hatcher:

Rick has a question here. Let’s see. They’re getting a domicile in Florida to show local insurance. They’re Escapees, Escapers members, and they work in Tennessee, so the RV and toad are mostly going to be in Tennessee.

Courtney Wooge:

Yep. Let’s see here, so they’re domiciled in Florida but throughout their policy year, the coach is going to be mostly in Tennessee?

Brandon Hatcher:

Let’s assume yes.

Courtney Wooge:

That’s a Tennessee policy, but we need to show Florida as the registration address.

Brandon Hatcher:

Okay. You would say it’s garaged in Tennessee?

Courtney Wooge:

Correct. It’s garaged in Tennessee, and to suffice the Florida DMV because it’s registered there, you need to show registration in Florida. That’s why I say you can put three different addresses on an RV policy. Where it’s rated on is mostly where it’s at garaged. You can also register it in a different state, which in this case it’s happened and it’s very common. Then again, the Escapees members know you can get your mail out of Livingston.

Brandon Hatcher:

Right. Yeah, so that would be perfect.

Courtney Wooge:

Yep, and they’re all good questions.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah. Insurance, you know, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it’s important, and full-time, it’s everything we have is with us, so I want to protect it.

Courtney Wooge:

Well, and we find the people that are excited to buy insurance, it sounds corny, but it’s that full-timer. Because they’re like, “I’m so glad I found an option that can speak my language, and oh, I can put contents on there. Oh, I have full-timer’s liability.” It’s just a good match, and those people, and we’re excited for them. That’s a dream of my wife and I to go more than 150 nights in our RV, and as long as I can be in this world I’m going to achieve that dream hopefully someday.

Brandon Hatcher:

Okay, Tim had one more question. He has an older ’98 Monaco Dynasty. He’s wondering if it’s worth it to even get any more insurance than just liability.

Courtney Wooge:

Well, if you’re going to camp in it a lot Tim, then I would say yes. Because then you need that campsite liability. When your jacks are down and your awnings are out, if you’re somewhere and somebody comes around to your campsite and pops their head on your awning and says, “Oh Tim, this is your fault because you put your awning out. How dare you,” and you get a letter from an attorney, your liability only coverage isn’t going to cut it. You need that RV provision which has that campsite or vacation liability baked in, which is basically your homeowner’s liability coverage when you’re camping. So just based on that, I would but only you can make the premium determination. If your liability-only policy is $200 and to put some of the RV provisions on there is going to cost you $1,200, well I can’t write that check for you. You have to manage that risk. Just know that liability only, when you’re camping and that happens, that person can come after you personally.

Brandon Hatcher:

Then just circle back one more time, just for the folks who showed up a little bit late. How long do insurance companies think you are a full-timer? How many days on the road?

Courtney Wooge:

150. So it doesn’t matter how long you’re on the road. It just matters how many days/nights you’re in the RV. If you’re just somewhere when you’re not driving for six months, you’re still considered an RV. They don’t care if you’re driving every single day, or if you’re sleeping in it in Florida at a nice campsite and you’re using it, so it’s related to usage, but anything more than 150 is what they consider a full-timer.

Brandon Hatcher:

That’s important to know.

Courtney Wooge:

And before we end that topic, there are two other usage categories. There is 30 to 150 days, which most avid RVers are in. That’s the typical RV policy you write, 30 to 150, and then you’ve got 30 and under. I call that the weekend warrior. The person that has a family and maybe four, five, six times in a summer they’ll get out on a weekend and use their trailer, use their motor home. That’s 30 days or less, 30 to 150, and then you’ve got your full-timers, and two categories of full-timers. 365 full-timer, and full-timer that uses it over 150 but still has a sticks and bricks somewhere.

Brandon Hatcher:

Interesting. Yeah, we’re in the 365 category, but now we’re about to change to that 30 to 150 category, for a short period of time. Just until things cool down a little bit outside.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. Yeah, no pun intended. With the heat that’s coming across, at least here in the Midwest.

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, exactly. So I’m sure Jackie is in the comments. Jackie works for FCIS. Courtney might jump in the comments, so if there’s a few more … Well there you go. Jackie just answered the other questions that were coming in. I think we’ve talked about it pretty well. Danny said good job.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. Thanks, Danny. I’m so sad that I missed. I was planning on going to Wyoming with my family and seeing everybody in, was it Rock Springs? Is that where it was?

Brandon Hatcher:

Yep. Yep.

Courtney Wooge:

And like everybody else, I was-

Brandon Hatcher:

A couple weeks ago.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah, so 2021, hopefully I’ll get to see all you guys at an Escapers rally, or Escapees. I want to start hitting more of those events as my kids get older. I’ve got two out of the house now, and one is 16 and one is 8, so I may bring my daughter. As my 16 year old goes out of the house, we’ll see. I mean this lifestyle is something I choose.

Brandon Hatcher:

[crosstalk 01:00:57] Escapers event. They might think you’ve gone crazy.

Courtney Wooge:

Right.

Brandon Hatcher:

Before we finish here, how can they reach you?

Courtney Wooge:

Well, I stopped using smoke signals a couple years ago. I used to respond to those, and it just got, there was too much smoke in the air. So I’ve got a phone number to our office, and that is listed on the screen there so 1-800-331-1520. 8:00 to 5:00 Central, and 9:00 to 4:00 Central on Saturday is when you can get a hold of us by phone, and certainly FCISInsurance.com is our main website, and if you’re looking just to put information for us to quote, we’d love to do that for you, and that links up from FCIS to RVAdvantage.com.

Brandon Hatcher:

See if I can … There. RVAdvantage.com.

Courtney Wooge:

There you go.

Brandon Hatcher:

Awesome, and let’s try to show myself again. Thanks for coming and talking about insurance, and I think we need to do this again in the future.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah.

Brandon Hatcher:

Let’s just start getting in those weeds. Let’s get weird.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. If we get in the dirt, that’s when I’m going to call it over. We can do weeds. We just can’t do dirt.

Brandon Hatcher:

Nice. So there’s a couple more questions coming in, and I bet you Jackie’s going to get them in the comments for you, and I just want to remind everybody we do these talks every Wednesday at the same time. We do different kinds of talks. Next Wednesday is going to be a virtual campfire, so it’s going to be talking about some aspect of the club. Just sitting around the virtual campfire because we can’t sit around the real campfire right now, and until we can, this is what we’re doing. And the virtual campfires, I think they’re going to live on for a long time. They were actually planned before all this happened.

Courtney Wooge:

I’ve attend one or two of those, and Travis and Melanie have been on. I think they run those, don’t they? They’ve been on lots of those?

Brandon Hatcher:

Yeah, JP did the last one. Travis and Mel typically do them. They’re traveling a little bit right now. Then last, I think it was week before last, we did a virtual rig tour. We’re going to have kind of a happy hour and I’m going to show how to make a cocktail. I think different people are going to show how to make cocktails coming up maybe. Different little, you know, just trying to keep it fun. Trying to keep the community together as much as we can while we’re all apart. So, thanks for coming. Thanks everybody for watching.

Courtney Wooge:

Yeah. Appreciate it, guys. Thanks Brandon. We’ll see you guys down the road. Happy trails.