If you rent the land you live on, or if you have a mortgage on your mobile home, you might not have a choice whether or not to get mobile home insurance — landlords and lenders often require it. Whether or not there is external pressure to get an insurance policy, holding one equips you to protect your property. If you couldn’t afford to reconstruct your home in the event of a major catastrophe, you should carry mobile home insurance.
Not cheaper than homeowners insurance, but more needed
Mobile homes are much more affordable per square foot than traditional, “stick-built” homes, but their insurance premiums can be just as high. Depending on the state of your mobile home, you can find insurance for as low as $300 per year, but it can cost up to $1,000+ per year, giving mobile home insurance a reputation for being expensive. Insurance allows you to leverage this consistent annual cost against the potential of catastrophic loss — including perils that mobile home owners are most vulnerable to.
The top two causes of home insurance claims, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute, are damages caused by 1) wind and hail and 2) water damage and freezing. Mobile homes are at a higher risk for both. An impermanent foundation and lighter-weight construction mean they are more susceptible to storm damage and freezing pipes in winter. (Water damage caused by pipes is actually the only cause that standard homeowners insurance policies cover.)
Mobile or manufactured?
Traditional, stick-built homes are built on-site. Mobile or manufactured homes are constructed in a factory, then delivered to a plot of land. This category of home build once was quite minimal, but construction changes mandated by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) improved both the safety and livability of these units.
HUD developed the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards to hold mobile homes to construction standards, the same as any traditionally built house. Construction that predates June 15, 1976, the day the construction codes went into effect, is a mobile home. Later construction is technically called a manufactured home. This means “mobile homes” aren’t actually built any more. Check the metal HUD tag affixed to the outside of your home if you aren’t sure which you own.
Some insurers offer different forms of insurance for mobile versus manufactured homes, and many won’t cover old mobile homes at all. Still, it’s worth hunting for coverage (you’ll probably have better luck with a regional provider than a national one) because old mobile homes, made with particle wood floors and aluminum roofing, are at particular risk for fire.
What mobile home insurance covers
Like any form of dwelling insurance, mobile home insurance covers physical damage to your home, the loss and damage of its contents, and personal liability to you.
• Dwelling coverage: The structure of your homes — the walls, windows, ceiling.
• Personal property: Everything not hammered down, from electronics to furniture to clothing.
• Liability protection and medical coverage: If someone sues you for damage your property caused their property or person, or sends you their hospital bill.
• Other structures: A fence or detached garage, for example.
• Additional Living Expense (ALE): If the fall-out of a covered peril makes your home unsuited for habitation, the insurance company pays to put you up in a hotel.
While the bones of the mobile home insurance policy (HO-7) are essentially the same as a classic homeowners policy (HO-3), there is a helpful point of customization with the HO-7 policies that the HO-3 doesn’t offer. You can tailor insurance for the manner in which you use your mobile home: as a full-time residence, a seasonal one, or a rental. Declare how your mobile home will actually be used to receive accurate coverage.
Note that coverage under a regular policy doesn’t apply while the mobile home is in transit. Talk to an insurance broker to find a policy that offers an endorsement if you know you will be transporting your mobile home.
• Shop around for quotes — premiums can vary pretty dramatically between providers, and the difference can be hundreds of dollars. You won’t have much luck shopping for mobile home insurance online. Call an independent insurance broker to get quotes from several providers.
• Look for an insurance policy that combines good rates with a good assortment of optional endorsements. Endorsements, or riders, are extra areas of coverage that you purchase to guard against common perils in your area, such as flooding.
• If you are purchasing a brand-new manufactured home, or looking to transport an existing model, talk to your insurance agent about getting coverage for the moving process. This won’t be covered by standard homeowners insurance or auto insurance.