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Does insurance cover camping?

From bears to boats, know when your campout needs extra protection to cover the possibilities.

Camping offers acres of fun, but dangerous situations can lead to damage or worse. You wouldn’t want a small detail like insurance to put a damper on your trip. To deal with camping accidents and pitfalls, you may need coverage for car or boat collisions, stolen or vandalized belongings or liability.

What types of insurance cover camping?

Before setting up camp, look at the types of insurance you might need for your foray into nature.

Car insurance

Car insurance protects you while camping under your current coverage. Some people think that car insurance doesn’t apply if you’re camping off the beaten path or if you go off-road. However, coverage will mainly depend on your policy’s exclusions and the type of damage that happens.

You won’t be covered for off-roading if your policy specifically excludes this type of driving. But many policies only exclude timed events, racing or intentional damage to your vehicle.

Based on these exclusions, intentionally driving your truck through deep mud for fun likely won’t be covered. But you should have protection under collision coverage if you run into a deer or under comprehensive if a tree falls on your car while parked at the campsite. Check with your insurance agent ahead of time to make sure you understand your policy’s exclusions.

Roadside assistance

A roadside assistance plan can help if you break down or get stuck while camping, as long as you’re close to the road or a repair shop. Most plans include towing mileage limits anywhere from five to 100 miles to the nearest repair shop. If you break down further away, you’ll need to pay the extra cost for that mileage.

Also, your vehicle must be safe for a tow truck to access, and your plan may have limits like your car getting stuck less than 100 feet from the road. So if you’re driving far away from civilization, you might want a backup plan for car breakdowns.

RV insurance

You might set up camp in a home away from home by taking your cozy RV. If you drive the RV to the site, you’ll likely need an RV insurance policy. This specialty insurance covers vehicle accidents, liability if someone is injured because of your RV and protection for damage to your personal belongings.

Travel trailer insurance

If you hit the trail with a popup camper, fifth wheel or any other camper that you tow, you’re probably not required by your state to buy insurance. Before forgoing a policy, though, check whether your car insurance covers liability for the trailer while you’re driving. Many policies do, but it’s good to know for sure.

Also, if you want extra coverage or protection for physical damage to your trailer, you’ll need a trailer insurance policy.

Home or renters insurance

Your home or renters policy steps in with protection for your personal belongings during a camping trip. Most policies protect your items against damage and theft even while traveling and vacationing. However, some policies cap your coverage at a lower limit while you’re away, like $1,000 to $2,000.

Health insurance

What happens if you forget to test the water depth before jumping in the lake, or you hurt your leg while hiking? As long as your health insurance covers the type of doctor and procedures you need, you can use your policy to pay for medical bills.

As for vehicle accidents during your trip, you might consider personal injury protection to help with medical bills if you carry a high health insurance deductible.

Life insurance

Your life insurance policy should pay out even if you die during an adventurous camping trip. However, your insurer can deny the benefit if you didn’t disclose risky hobbies that led to your death.

When buying a life insurance policy, stay honest about your camping activities and how often you put yourself in danger. You can find policies even if you love high-risk hobbies like rock climbing or scuba diving, but you might pay more.

Do campgrounds have insurance?

Yes, campgrounds keep a variety of insurance, especially liability for the activities it offers. Campgrounds also keep crisis response coverage in place as extended protection for emergencies, including emergency medical care, scene investigation and public relations.

The campground’s insurance policy may pay out if you sue the facility for false advertising, defamation and injuries or damage from activities, such as:

  • Alcohol use
  • Boating
  • Fireworks
  • Horseback riding
  • Zip lining

What’s not covered by insurance?

The campground isn’t liable for every incident, especially if it posted warnings about your risks. And, while you can get coverage for most potential problems during your camping rendezvous, a few instances may not be covered:

  • Your own negligence. You probably won’t get a payout from someone else’s liability insurance if your actions led to injuries or damage — for example, if you collide with another boater because you were drunk or acting reckless.
  • Intentional damage to your property. Your car or personal property insurance can deny a damage claim from a DIY truck modification or if you intentionally throw your headphones in the lake in frustration.
  • Rental vehicles. If you rent an RV or drive a rental car, you’ll want to look at what’s covered by your car insurance. In some cases, you may need extra coverage from the rental company, especially if you’re renting a motorhome.
  • Rental gear. If you’re renting fishing gear or a boat from the campgrounds, your home or renters insurance probably doesn’t cover the rental. Know what types of damage the rental company offers and buy more coverage if needed.

When should I file a claim?

You have the ability to file a claim anytime damage happens that’s covered by your insurance. However, weigh the pros and cons of filing a claim since it can raise your insurance premiums.

Situations when you might file a claim:

  • The damage goes above your deductible
  • The damage doesn’t involve anyone else
  • You would suffer financially if you didn’t
  • You haven’t filed a claim in the past three to five years

For home insurance, take care not to file claims for property damage when you can absorb the cost. Many home insurance companies flag policyholders with several claims in a five-year time period, and some may even deny your policy renewal.

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Bottom line

Chances are that your current health, life, home or renters policies protect a variety of damage or injuries for your camping excursion.

But check your car insurance if you’re planning any off-roading, and consider coverage upgrades like trailer coverage or roadside assistance. If you happen to need another type of insurance for your trip, compare several companies to find the best fit.

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