Tiny houses, meaning those that are typically under 400 square feet, are becoming increasingly popular with many singles and even families today. While these homes are typically on a trailer of some sort, the overall design of a tiny house allows an owner to feel as if they’re living in an actual home and not an RV!
While being able to buy a home for a few thousand dollars and put it on any vacant plot of land or RV park might sound like a carefree lifestyle, it can be a challenge to find the needed insurance for a tiny home. The good news is that more and more insurers are recognizing the popularity of tiny homes so they’re offering more coverage options overall.
Insuring your tiny home like a regular house:
Homeowners typically purchase what is called dwelling insurance. This insurance covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding a home after a fire or other such disaster. If your tiny home is on a permanent foundation and was constructed according to local building codes, you can typically purchase this same dwelling insurance for your home no matter its size.
However, tiny home manufacturers don’t always adhere to the same building codes required for a standard house on a permanent foundation! This is especially true of DIY tiny homes and tiny houses on wheels. Since these types of tiny homes might not be built to code, they may not qualify for this same type of dwelling coverage insurance.
Insuring your tiny home like an RV:
If your tiny home is on wheels, it might qualify for RV insurance and you may even be able to tack this insurance onto your current auto insurance policy and receive a multi-policy discount! Ask your current automobile insurance provider about RV insurance for your tiny home on wheels.
If your car insurer won’t cover your tiny home on wheels, note that some insurers only offer RV insurance to trailers built by certain qualified manufacturers, to ensure that those RVs are stable and safe. These manufacturers are often part of what is called the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, or RVIA, and their campers or trailers will have a special RVIA seal.
- Tiny Homebuyer’s Tip: Some tiny houses are built by RVIA certified manufacturers and will be constructed with the same standards used for park model RVs. If you haven’t yet purchased a tiny home, you might consider shopping for one built by an RVIA certified manufacturer so it will be easier for you to find RV insurance.
Insurance specifically for tiny houses
Some insurance companies offer tiny house insurance specifically designed for tiny homes on wheels and that are not technically park model RVs. Note some important details about these types of policies so you know what to expect from your carrier and how to obtain the best insurance for your home:
- Part-time Use: If your tiny house is on wheels, note if you will be living in it fulltime. Some insurers offer coverage similar to RV insurance, provided that it’s not your primary residence.
- License Plate: If you are eligible for RV insurance, you might be required to have a permanent license plate on the tiny home even if it’s parked in an RV park.
- Pre-Coverage Inspection: Some tiny house insurers require an inspection before they offer coverage. Be sure you note if this is a requirement for your insurer and be prepared to have them test the electrical systems, plumbing, and so on.
- Towing Your Home: Coverage for your tiny house typically doesn’t include towing, so your insurance policy may cease its coverage the minute you hook your tiny house to a trailer hitch! If you plan on moving your tiny house, be sure to ask if towing is included; if not, be prepared to purchase a separate policy for the move itself.
Types of tiny house insurance offered
If you have a tiny house, be sure to ask your insurance agent about the following types of coverage:
- Dwelling or structural insurance: This covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding a structure after a fire, storm damage, and so on. Structural insurance should include the structure’s roof, windows, and any attached decks and porches; be sure to contact your agent about adjusting your coverage, if needed, after adding a deck, skylight, and so on.
- Personal property insurance: This covers the cost of repairing or replacing items that are not part of the structure itself. This would include appliances, furniture, your clothing and linens, artwork, etc.
- Liability insurance: This protects you in case someone is injured on your property, if your dog bites someone, or if you cause damage to another person’s property. Even in a tiny home, it’s good to have some form of liability insurance!
- Inland marine insurance: This covers mobile property, and this insurance is often used by companies that haul tools and equipment regularly. Inland marine insurance might cover your tiny home while it’s being towed. However, note that this policy doesn’t typically include liability coverage, so you would need additional insurance to cover damages caused to someone else’s property while towing your tiny home.
- Home Theft: Ask specifically if your dwelling or personal property coverage includes theft of the house itself. If not, you might need an additional theft policy, often written as an automobile policy, to reimburse you the cost of the house if it should be stolen.
Special advice for DIY enthusiasts
Because tiny homes aren’t always made to local building codes, this increases the risk of an electrical fire or burst plumbing pipe, one major reason that many insurers refuse to cover tiny homes. This risk of damage to your tiny home is even greater if you decide to build it yourself!
Improve your chances of being covered:
- Take lots of detailed photos during the construction process, especially during the installation of electrical and plumbing fixtures.
- Make notes of materials used, including their manufacturer, materials, size, and so on.
Photos of high-quality materials and proper installation and build techniques can reassure an insurance agent that your DIY tiny house is safe and not at increased risk for a fire or other disaster!