Transporting a recreational vehicle (RV) can be a large undertaking. People buy RVs for all types of reasons like they want to travel or have a cheaper solution to a family vacation. Whatever the reason for purchasing one of these oversize vehicles, at some point, you may need to transport it. Understanding your transport options and insurance coverage for your RV during transport can help you decide which company will give you the best value.
What types of RVs exist?
There are numerous types of recreational vehicle types in production today. Maybe you don’t know the kind of yours off the top of your head. Here is a guide to explain the current models on the market today.
- Class A Diesel Motorhomes
- A Class A diesel motorhome is one of the more common types of motorhomes out on the road today. The RV contains a specially-designed chassis. The diesel engine is located at the back of the coach and provides more torque than the gas type.
- A Class A diesel motorhomes are luxurious and make for excellent cross-country road trip vehicles. Due to their reliability and durability, they are more expensive than most motorhomes.
- Class A Gas Motorhomes
- A Class A gas motorhome, much like a diesel, offers the same comforts of home while on the road. These comforts also include the option of multiple slideouts, which create even more space in the already spacious area. Class A motorhomes are often compared to a luxurious bus.
- Class C Motorhomes
- A smaller style of a motorhome, Class C comes in both gas and diesel options. The most distinctive feature on these motorhomes is the cab-over style with a truck-style chassis. Popular Class C motorhomes are manufactured by Ford, Chevy, and Mercedes Benz.
- These motorhomes have the same amenities as a Class A, but they are on a smaller level. Different floor plans are available in this style.
- Class B Motorhomes
- Also known as B-Vans or camper vans, these motorhomes are built on van chassis and can go places that other motorhomes can’t go. Manufacturers of these types of motorhomes have designed these motorhomes with all the amenities, just on smaller, more compact scales.
- Fifth Wheel Camper
- Fifth wheel campers are the largest type of towable camper available. These are pulled by a large pickup truck that has an extra hitch within the middle of the truck bed. Fifth wheelers are popular for larger families. Most people will park these at a campground and unhitch the towing vehicle for daily use. It is essential to make sure that the towing vehicle can handle the weight of the camper plus the contents.
- Toy Haulers
- Also known as sport-utility RVs, these towable campers have the capability of hauling great outdoor gear as well as the family. These types come in a towable version or a drivable version of RV. Think of it as a tiny home with a garage.
- Travel Trailers
- Travel trailers are the most popular type of campers you will see on the road. It is hauled by a traditional hitch style jutting from the bumper of a vehicle that is capable of towing the trailer. There are multiple floor plans available with various size options.
- Tiny Campers
- Also known as tear-drop campers because of their distinct tear shape. This style of camper emulates the Class B style of RV with compact amenities but complete functionality. A lot of these style campers are being decorated in vintage and retro styles. They are increasingly popular and way less than 4,000 pounds.
- Pop-Up Camper
- Pop-up campers are a popular type of RV that has been around for many years. These have a hard shell for a bottom and a canvas pop-out for sleeping space. These are popular with families who want to camp but not sleep on the ground.
If you have any of the above-listed RVs to transport, it is essential to make sure your RV transport service has the correct insurance to cover it while under their care. Just because every transport company is required to carry insurance, it doesn’t mean that they carry enough insurance. You have spent quite a bit on your investment with an RV, and you want a transport company to take that investment seriously.
Required Liability Insurance
All transport companies that are registered with the Department of Transportation have a legal obligation to have at least a liability insurance with a minimum of a $750,000 policy. If you want to know what kind of insurance the transport company you are considering carries, all you have to do is:
- Request a copy of the insurance policy directly from the transport company and ensure it is an original.
- Find out the Department of Transportation number for the company. By obtaining this number, you can find out if the transport company is authorized and insured to transport RVs. This information is maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and accessible upon request.
- If the RV transport company is not a broker, the “DBA Name” should match the name of the company.
- On the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Safety Administration site, the insurance information of the company should show up. Their liability limits, as well as their Bodily Injury and Property Damage limits, should be at least $750,000.
If you find that the transportation company you are looking into does not have the coverage you expect, you can purchase additional cargo insurance through an independent carrier. Make sure that you indicate this when you are making your reservations for transport with the company.
Understand The Terms and Limitations
Even though it is expected that a transport company’s liability insurance will cover any damage that your RV sustains during transport, you still need to do your research on the limitations and exclusions. The terms of the company’s insurance coverage will be on the Bill of Landing and RV shipping contract. You should have been given copies of these when you signed the contract. Make sure you get any changes in the agreement in writing before you release the vehicle to the company for transport.
If You Have To Make A Claim
When you are dropping off or picking up your RV, you or someone representing you should be present to inspect the vehicle. The truck driver or a transport company representative will accompany you while you do this. All pre-existing damage should be listed on the Bill of Landing, as agreed upon when drop-off occurred. Together, you and the transportation company will deduce if the damage was sustained during transport. Make sure you have photographs of the RV before and after transit, which makes it a lot easier to file a claim.
Preparing Your RV for Transport
The best way you can make sure your RV is safe during transport is to make sure that you prepare it for a long-distance haul. Besides taking photographs of the outside of the RV before transport, you can also do several different things to get your RV in the right condition for transport.
Researching The Company
You have already dug into the insurance information of the companies you are thinking about using to transport your RV, but have you looked into their ratings and client reviews? Even though a competitive price may be appealing, it doesn’t mean a whole lot if the company you choose has a poor service record.
You can check into the Better Business Bureau to check the satisfaction records of the company you are thinking about choosing. By using the Department of Transportation number you obtained for the insurance information, you can learn a lot more about the company, like accidents and their driving record.
Your Responsibility in Preparation
No matter the method of transport that you use for your RV, you can do your own part in making sure that your RV arrives safely by properly preparing it.
- Make sure you are removing any of the personal items you have in the RV that could break or move around during transport. You don’t want to end up with your items damaged during the move.
- Go through the inside areas of the RV. If there are cabinets that could open during transport or drawers that could come open, make sure you fasten them down. The last thing you want to do is get in your RV after transport, and all the kitchen items are all over the place.
- Check all of the fluids and make sure that minimal fuel is left in the tank during transport. Turn off all electronics and make sure you disconnect all power supplies.
- Make sure that you include a list of special information that the transport drivers need to know when they are handling your RV during transport.
The transport company will tell you that they are not liable for any damages that the RV incurs during transport due to improper preparation. Don’t worry, though, the company you choose should have a transport specialist who tells you exactly what will need to be done before transport. They will also help you with any special requests you may have.
Deciding on the Right Shipping Method and Delivery
There are multiple ways that you can ship an RV. Depending on whether you want to move the RV domestically or internationally, most auto transport companies should have some sort of transport available for this purpose. Keep in mind that RVs are considered a specialty item in the transport industry, so not all of the companies you vet will be able to provide you with the services you are requiring.
Some of the methods available for shipping an RV are geared more for international travel. These transports take place on a boat instead of utilizing ground transportation, which is most commonly seen in the United States and Canada.
- When shipping RVs to countries overseas, this method is most commonly used. Although the height and weight restrictions may apply, a flatbed ship is used to haul the RV.
- Flat Rack Shipping
- The method of transport is used to deliver RVs and other heavy vehicles on a flat rack on a ship. These are an open-air shipping method, only on a boat. RVs that ship like this are exposed to the elements.
- Container Shipping
- If you have an RV that will fit into a shipping container, that might be the most convenient form of shipping your RV. This type of shipping will protect the RV from inclement weather conditions that it may face during transport overseas.
- If you have an RV or a piece of heavy machinery that is not operational, this shipping technique uses a crane to lift the equipment or RV on to the ship or off of it if unloading.
- Open Air Ground Transport
- This type of transport uses large flat trailers or truck beds that transport the RV by ground transport. These open transport vehicles will not shield your RV from inclement weather conditions or debris along the roadway.
- Enclosed Ground Transport
- Much like container transport on a ship, enclosed ground transport encloses your RV within a container that is hauled by a freighter to wherever the destination is. These enclosed transports keep your RV safe from the outside.
When you need to have an RV shipped, some delivery options can help you get your RV where it needs to go in as little time as possible. For a direct method of delivery, door-to-door services can make pickup and drop off easier. You tell the company where you want them to pick up your RV and where they need to drop it off, and that is what the shipping company will do.
If you need a rush on delivery, for an added fee, a lot of shipping companies may be able to expedite their services. These are considered high-priority services. When you need this rushed, you want to see your chosen transport company put you and your needs at top priority.
RV Transport Experts
Not all auto transport companies have the capacity for large jobs like RV transport. RV transport takes a special skill-set, one that you will find in the experts at A-1 Auto Transport. When you are looking for an insured RV transport company with decades of experience and coverage, make A-1 Auto Transport experts your team for your delivery needs.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.