Hello, hello! How’s your week going so far? Mine’s been extremely busy with the back to school rush. I’m looking forward to the weekend to relax a bit. =)
Today’s topic is my struggle with insurance. Most people – and this was reaffirmed at the Tiny House Jamboree – think that finding the money for a tiny house (you can’t get a traditional load for one) or finding a parking spot is the biggest roadblock to living tiny…well, in my situation finding insurance has been my biggest issue. Click below for more.
I didn’t think about insuring my tiny house during the planning or build. It was covered by the builders insurance during construction and then the shipping company during transportation so I really just started to look into insurance options at the very end of the construction process, like when I knew I would be getting it. I started by looking online and possibly adding an RV policy to my car insurance. I called my car insurance to chat with them about this. They weren’t too familiar with Tiny Homes and told me I needed to talk to their mobile home department. I got transferred and talked to the folks in the mobile home department and since it wasn’t a Park Model home (399 sq ft manufactured home) I didn’t qualify. It needed to be built by a manufactured home builder and have certain size requirements. They suggested I call their RV department. A phone call later I found out that because I don’t have a VIN number I don’t qualify as an RV either and they couldn’t help me. The trailer itself has a VIN number but the house as a whole doesn’t.
Before I proceed I do need to say that I am currently located in an area in the midwest – or what is referred to as tornado alley. Yes, I live in a trailer where tornadoes and high winds are a common occurrence. My thought is that if a tornado touches down it will take whatever is in it’s path regardless of the size. I would worry about them in a house with a foundation as much as in a trailer. As for the high winds: I read some blogs/discussions where people talked about how tiny homes are built to withstand the winds of highway travel (which could be upwards of 70 mph) and one discussion board said their Tiny House withstood 100 mph winds. I hope I never experience that but it is reassuring that others have lived through that. I do need to add that if I lived in the Pacific Northwest or Colorado I wouldn’t have the same insurance issue. And back to the regular discussion….
Next step: google! A few other tiny house blogs reference an insurance company in Portland, Oregon that focuses on insuring tiny homes. Perfect, right?! So I give the guy a call and, whelp, if I was located in any other state they could insure me but unfortunately they don’t offer insurance in my state. He suggested I call a local insurance agent and try to figure something out with someone local.
Next up: local insurance agents! I just went to yellowpages and started calling some local insurance companies to see if anyone could help. I explained that I wasn’t an RV or a manufactured home and was mostly told they couldn’t help – I even sent pictures to some of these people to explain my situation. I found one local agent that would write me a policy IF I tied down the home (like a mobile home) and took the wheels off then one other company told me they could insure me IF I tied down the home and put up a permanent skirting. Uh, the purpose of a tiny house ON WHEELS is that I can move it and putting a permanent skirting or taking off the wheels kind of negates that fact…. right?
Next up: creativity! I think around this time I had lived in my tiny house for 2 months now without insurance and was getting a bit antsy about that so I started to think about alternative insurance options. The first one I thought of was to get an address in the Pacific Northwest and insure it there for part of the year and in my current location during the school year – yes, I realize that would require me to move it for the summer but I was exploring options. This option wouldn’t work because the majority (9 months) would be out of the PNW which would put me as a resident of my current state and the insurance agency wouldn’t accept that. Next up, which is what I am currently doing, is to insure the trailer itself. Remember how I told you it had a VIN number. Well, I got insurance for the full price of the trailer ($5,000) and then personal property insurance for all my belongings including bikes. Not the best but at least it’s something, right? I’ve had this coverage since April and felt ok with it given my situation.
Then I go to the Tiny House Jamboree and find a Tiny House insurance company that is willing to insure me in my location! This company is based out of Colorado Springs and has a policy that insures the tiny house based upon where it was built (in my case Salt Lake City) and then I put an endorsement policy on top of that which covers it while its out of state (in my case the midwest) or in transit. This means I can move to any other state (besides West Virginia because that is the one state that is does not approve of this policy. Of course, right?!) and still have coverage. This is full coverage for the replacement cost of the whole entire house. Amazing! However, this policy is two times as much as my current one but does cover a rebuild if something does happen.
What do you think? Is it worth paying twice as much for whole house coverage or keeping what I have?