What do RV fires, wrecks and natural disasters all have in common? Each of these RV catastrophes will force you to find a new home – fast!
If you’re a full-timer and lost your RV suddenly, are you prepared? These three ways to prepare for RV catastrophes can help you survive the unthinkable.
Get a “Go-Bag” Ready
Full-timers and RVers from North Dakota to Louisiana know what flood disasters can do to RV parks. When water is rising so fast you can’t get your rig out in time, the only thing that matters is surviving. Keep a “Go-Bag” stuffed with vital essentials including:
- Prescriptions and toiletries
- Energy bars and powdered beverages
- Extra glasses, hearing aids or other physical aids you rely on
- Pet food, medications, vaccination records and a leash if you have animals
- Cash and copies of important records (passport, drivers license, insurance documents).
- And….what your mom always recommended: a change of underwear.
Know Your RV Insurance Coverage
Does your RV insurance cover emergency living expenses if you lose your RV home? I thought mine did. Then I called my insurance company and was surprised to learn that my current coverage only includes $750 of emergency living expenses. That won’t go far if I’m in a RV catastrophe and get stuck in a big, expensive city. For example, one month’s RV park rent in the San Francisco Bay Area costs an average of $850. My RV insurance plan now allows me to choose emergency living expense coverage for $750, $2,000 and $7,500. Does yours?
Build Emergency Savings
Financial experts say everyone should have six to twelve months of living expenses in case the unthinkable happens. RV catastrophes are easier to deal with when you have an emergency savings account. Even a few thousand dollars stashed away can help bridge the gap between your insurance coverage and real-life costs of living.
Unfortunately, credit cards offer a false sense of security to most people. Eventually those debts require payment. Coping with credit card debt and piecing your life back together is stressful. Emergency savings helps lessen the blow of an already bad situation.
Nobody’s Safe from RV Catastrophes
As you start your life on the full-timing road, you’ll see that no area in this country is safe from RV catastrophes. From RV park fires to floods in the Carolinas, the whims of Mother Nature or careless campers can hit when we least expect it. Prepare your family and your finances from the terrible effects of RV catastrophes and you’ll stay one step ahead of disaster.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Thomas Seim says
At the risk of stating the obvious, RVs have wheels and can be driven/towed to cheaper areas. And if your RV is destroyed you will likely be staying in a hotel unless you can rent one while you are looking for a replacement (hotels probably make more sense). Having important documents stored away from the RV is just common sense, but people are routinely negligent in this area.
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
Thomas thanks for your feedback. I know it seems like an obvious thing to head to a cheaper area, but as a full-timer, I’ve found that it’s not quite as easy. For example, if I had a choice to have my rig worked on by a well-rated expert shop in a metro area, or a backyard mechanic out in the sticks where it’s cheaper to rent, I’d choose the expert and do what it takes to pay to live there until it was over. At least that’s how I would do it.
Thomas Seim says
We are, apparently, talking about two different things. If your rig is being worked on you have already paid that months rent in which case it is not a factor in the repair cost. I guess what you are saying is you don’t have the money for the repair after paying the rent. I don’t believe this represents the audience you are speaking to.
Additionally, the quality of the repair is not directly related to what you pay for it; if you are in a high-cost area like the Bay area, you ARE going to pay a premium REGARDLESS of the quality of the work. BTW, don’t demean the workmanship of rural mechanics – they are really among the best out there. It sounds like you haven’t had much dealings with these folks.
As someone who full timed, and then on return (fortunately) had an RV catastrophe… I found this article, while basic and obvious, representative of what I’d like to see.
I think it’s easy to live in a false sence of security and this was a simple reminder to readers that they should have a back up plan.
My catastrophe was a electrical fire, from the smell of smoke to grabbing a fire extinguisher the RV was alrdy too dangerous to stay in (thick black smoke) – within 5 mins the whole unit was destroyed.
I was lucky that this was on our property and not while me & the dogs were on the road!
If you are one of the many RVers that do not do scheduled service then you at sometime will most likely have a break down. Most diesel FIRED are from leaks. Hoses or loose fittings. Buy a black light and check engine at night. It will show any leaks. Also when breaking down check under coach for leaks from engine and hydraulic ram. Most of all follow owners manual for service times.
Buzz Bussino says
When I moved into my RV full-time I knew having “papers” was not viable. I scan all documents, encrypt them, and upload them to one of my many free cloud servers.
This is much easier than it sounds. You can buy an encryption program subscription for about the same as an antivirus subscription(I use Axcrypt). Cloud space is free from Google, Microsoft and a bunch of others. Now all you need is a scanner. I use a Canon flatbed scanner I bought off Craigslist for about $50.
Scan, encrypt, upload, and shred or burn. Papers problem solved and accessible from anywhere. Even if someone hacks into your cloud account,they run into everything being encrypted. They’ll be on to some other account because too many people won;t take the step of encrypting
Robert F. Manning says
Make sure you have good tires. When were they made & if 5 years or older, they probably need to be replaced. I had a 5 year old tire lose its tread on an inside rear tire that did a lot of damage. Also make sure you have RV insurance.
Buzz Bussino says
There’s a lot of other issues such as make sure your tires aren’t under-inflated. Under-inflated tires will get hot and cause a blowout.
Make sure you’re not overloaded and that your tires are inflated for your weight. More weight, more PSI. Get your rig weighed to make sure your weight is right and properly distributed. Weight distribution will affect your rig handling and braking.
IMO, too many people take operating an RV way too lightly. Complacency will get you into trouble you on the highway a lot quicker in an RV than in a car.
I notice my tires tell me a different PSI than the manual for the RV and different from what the tire dealer says is good. Like who do you believe?
On the previous subject, my 2004 Damon Challenger takes the same gas cap as my 1999 Suburban.
I am a full timer for about 6 years now. I have seen many of the things mentioned, just last week my friends 5th wheel had an electrical fire start due to his main power cord shorting across the poles. burnt out many electrical components and actually put his transformer into flames. it was a good thing he got home early enough to extinguish it before it got out of control. the moral of the story, get in a habit of walking around your rig and observing the condition of everything, (main power cord, sewer hook up, tree limbs…..) take note and repair as soon as possible.
because I am a full timer and a Retired certified Master Technician I take advantage of doing all of my own repairs. This way I don’t have the inconvenience of having to let a bunch of strangers in my home, hooking it up, bringing it to them to sit in their parking lot for days. There is an alternative resource, Mobil RV repair techs.
it really doesn’t matter where you live, you can only afford what your budget allows you, not everyone is fortunate to have had a slush fund at their finger tips. or were less fortunate to be living day to day. I believe that you must live within your means, and the more you can do yourself the better. it never fails to amaze me how friendly neighboring campers can be. or what kind of information is on u-tube all of which can help you.
Insurance, I don’t know about all states, in California by law it is required for all class motor homes but not for any type of trailer. It is the towing vehicle required to have insurance (unless you are still making payments.) for full-timers RV insurance I have had the worst experiences, it has been cheaper and easier to fix it myself than to pay a premium and deductible.( when you need help NOW, it cant wait till Monday)
drivers licenses; there are many people out there on the road driving or towing illegally. did you know in California you need an endorsement to your class c license to tow vehicles between 10,001 to 15000 gvw, or class a non-commercial license for heavier RV’s. or air brake endorsements. did you know if you are driving or towing your vehicle illegally you Insurance does not have to pay out for anything that happens on the road. and you could be held liable even if it was obviously not your fault.. all because you were not properly licensed.
So, make RVing enjoyable, be properly licensed, trained, knowledgeable, and helpful. don’t be to proud to ask for help or to self centered to offer help. we all are doing this together lets keep it safe.
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
Great feedback and valuable insight Gregg, thanks.
We had a totaled motorhome that we were able to walk away from. Exiting the small motorhome and looking back on it which was now a flatbed! with only the couch attached and the 2 front seats. Thank goodness we had our seatbelts on and I had not chosen to walk to the back for a quick bite, etc. In our shocked state afterwards we attempted to sort through the thrown items out on the desert (ex., computers, shoes, glasses…) and gather them. An ambulance showed up and took us away and we had to leave our stuff strewn everywhere. Already there were a couple of people walking through our stuff like it was up for grabs. We were assured by the police that our stuff would be gathered up carefully by the local wreckers. We found out later they bring a tractor in and scoop it all up with a shovel and put in bins. Hardly careful! Plus, very expensive tools and one computer were not recovered. We believe they were stolen by the wreckers. Our insurance covered our personal belongings as well as the motorhome (not what it was worth however). Anyway, a Go-To bag would of been perfect in a heavy duty duffel bag. I found my glasses all scratched up and could barely see through them. A pair of slippers were my shoes for the next several days also. So having those things available in a quick grab would of been a life-saver for us. Thankfully, the hospital gave us donated clothes from their stash. By the way, we got clobbered by someone driving 89+ going west out of Salt Lake who had looked down at the floor (she says) and when she looked back up and saw us, over-corrected, hit rumble strips, and then us. Absolutely no one else was on the freeway at that time. Bad luck! My husband instinctively drove onto the shoulder to get away from what felt like a locomotive pushing us off where we finally did a complete roll over. My husband now has numerous problems including a traumatic brain injury. Please, keep ur seatbelts on, look in ur mirrors constantly for negligent drivers and have a Go-To back at the ready.
Jim Godfrey says
While this original posting talked about important records and “go bags”, it left out one very important thing for motorhome owners, all classes of them. Invest in an engine compartment fire extinguisher system!! They cost less than the deductible on your insurance. Smaller systems can be installed in 5th wheels in the basement around or near electrical system hookups or generators. You can also purchase additional fire extinguishers that are better than the original single one provided by the manufacturers and place them throughout the unit.
Steve Fennell says
Thanks for the additional info Jim.
Roger C H says
Too many people think that driving or towing an RV is just like driving a big car. It isn’t. Motorhomes and trailers are subject to being overloaded or having the load unbalanced, tires usually age out and don’t wear out. There many things the dealer doesn’t tell you because he doesn’t want to scare you away. Reading the many websites on the subject is a good idea.
I had a similar experience at a boat show. A couple walking by were talking with the wife asking the husband why he bought a boat, he doesn’t know anything about boating. I will never forget the husband’s answer, “What’s to know? It’s just like driving a car, only there are no rules.”
Gayle Marie Jones says
It’s July 2020 and our RV Park neighbors were just hit by a truck. Smash!!!! And it is most certainly totaled!
That has me wondering what i need to know in advance. Is there a way to be any more prepared than having insurance, and emergency fund, and lots of prayer covering?
Thank you for this article.
Rene Agredano says
Hi Gayle, great questions. I hope your neighbors are OK. My best advice is to stay debt-free and get a good grasp on your financial situation, which will help everything else fall into place. I learned a lot by listening to The Dave Ramsey Show and reading his books. I also use You Need a Budget for my budgeting needs. Best wishes to you and your neighbors!