Image of wave runners and boats on a lake at sunset.

How to Buy Recreational Vehicles

Updated April 12, 2022 . AmFam Team

Here’s what you need to know when buying a recreational toy like a camper, motorhome, motorcycle or powered watercraft — American Family Insurance is here to help you make the right call.

You work hard all year long for those precious days in the sun, when you can get outside and enjoy the weather. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about finally buying a recreational vehicle of your own. If you have, you know you’ve got a lot of choices, from campers, travel trailers and ATVs to fishing boats and wave runners.

Whatever you choose, purchasing a recreational vehicle can be a big investment — and it’s one you should take seriously. One of the best ways to buy is to do your homework first and then narrow down your choices to those that retain their value best.

How to Decide on the Right Recreational Vehicle

Whether you’re into sunset cruising the shoreline on your pontoon boat or hitting the road with your travel trailer camper or motor home, odds are you know what feels right. But when you're buying for the first time, you may find that deciding between all the options and amenities out there can be a lot to process. How do you know that you're making the right move? That’s where we come in!

Here are some key points to think about when shopping around for your next recreational vehicle:

Consider whether you will buy new or used

You’ve decided you’re going to purchase a recreational vehicle, but will it be used or new? There are strong arguments for either route, but what it comes down to is your personal preference combined with several key factors.

Whether you’re purchasing an RV, camper, motorcycle, ATV, boat, snowmobile or other type of recreational vehicle, consider the following when deciding between buying used or new:

Price. Price is usually the first thing you’ll consider when looking for your recreational vehicle. Take a close look at what you can realistically afford — this will greatly help guide your search as you decide between new versus used.

Financing. Part of determining what you can afford is shopping around for the best financing options. Take some time to research your options so you find the right type of loan for your budget. Paying cash? Great! No financing is required.

Condition. Buying used can mean a lower price tag. Keep in mind, though, it also means you’re forgoing the peace of mind that may come with being the original owner of the vehicle. When buying used, you could inherit issues from a previous owner, so make sure you have a reputable history report of any accidents, repairs or other issues.

Warranty. It depends on the type of vehicle, but purchasing new typically means you’ll get a one- to two-year warranty with the option to purchase an extended warranty. So any repairs or replacements needed due to factory errors are typically covered.

Manufacturer support. New or used, at some point you’ll likely need to make repairs to your recreational vehicle. If you buy used, make sure it’s from a reputable brand that will be around in case you need to find parts. Plus, whether you buy new or used, make sure it’s from a brand that you can easily get serviced in your area.

Have a plan for storing your vehicle safely

Do your homework now and seek out a place to overwinter your recreational vehicle. It may be that you’ve got a free garage space or another storage location that can act as a safe place to hibernate. Either way, now’s a great time to get familiar with ways to winterize, before the cold weather hits.

Most engines — from recreational vehicles to personal watercraft and the outboard motor on your bass boat — will all require a little maintenance and attention at the end of the season. You’ll benefit from having a plan now because you can budget for the money you’ll need to keep your investment safe during the winter break.

Think about your transport needs

Some hobby vehicles will require a trailer to transport it between locations. Be sure your car or truck is outfitted with the right towing harness and is rated for the weight you’ll be pulling. It can be smart to shop for both the vehicles and the trailer at the same time, so you know you’ve got the right rig.

How to Insure Your Hobby Vehicles

The reality is that accidents happen, and sometimes they can be costly. Getting the right types of insurance is all part of being a responsible owner, whether you’re splashing around on a wave runner or kicking up dirt on an ATV. And there’s real peace of mind in knowing that your investments and your savings are well-protected with the right hobby vehicle insurance.

Understand the range of your coverage

Insurance for powersports doesn’t have to be complicated — but it should protect you well. That’s why we recommend you reach out to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to be sure you get the right coverage. Here are a few coverage considerations to review:

Collision coverage

You’ll need it to protect against losses to your recreational vehicle if it’s damaged from a collision due to a covered loss.

General liability insurance

This is important coverage that can help protect your savings if a covered loss results in injuries and property damage to others. And this coverage extends to help pay for expenses for defense costs if liability claims are made against you. This coverage is not available for campers and personal trailers, however.

Personal effects coverage

You’ll have protection against items that are lost, stolen or destroyed under a covered loss while you’re using your personal watercraft.

Emergency waterside service and emergency roadside assistance

This is key protection that can pay off when your boat needs it most. It provides service for your personal watercraft in situations like a breakdown out on the water or a flat tire on your trailer when you’re on the road. Emergency roadside assistance is available for motorcycles and recreational vehicles, though certain conditions apply.

Medical expense coverage

This coverage can play a key role in the payment of reasonable medical expenses that you or others on your boat incur in the event of a covered, accidental injury. Note that this coverage is available on all specialty vehicles, but not available for campers and personal trailers.

Get the Right Insurance Coverage for Your Recreational Vehicle

Finding the right protection now is as important as making the right decision on the make and model of your recreational vehicle. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) today and request a quote for a suite of coverages that protects you best. You'll have a chance to explore additional coverage options with your agent, and in the end, you’ll be ready for a summer full of fun.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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