Tiny homes have been gaining in popularity year over year. A tiny home, which can be stationary or mobile, is often defined as a home with 400 square footage or less. These homes are great for simplicity and sustainability and oftentimes call to those with a nomadic lifestyle. If you have a tiny home, especially a mobile one, you can live anywhere you want, but these tiny homes can come with big insurance issues.
Insurance for tiny homes is a challenge for many providers. This is because these miniature dwellers can do so much more than a common house. Many are built for mobility, but not all of them. If you need tiny home insurance, no common coverage simply applies to your needs. There are solutions for you. Your tiny home, how it was built, and what you intend to do with it will all impact where you look for insurance coverage.
What are tiny homes?
As we mentioned, tiny homes are miniature houses, typically 400 square feet or less (though some states have different defining dimensions). They’re designed creatively to have all the comforts one would need to live comfortably, and because they are so small, they are often quite sustainable – some have run exclusively on solar power.
Many people love tiny homes because it’s something they can affordably own. The small space forces them to make conscious choices about their needs, and this minimalism provides many with peace of mind. It also promotes experiences over things. It’s much cheaper to heat or cool a tiny home over a large one, and because these are mobile, it’s much easier to vacation all over the country since you can take your home with you.
Tiny home living also comes with its share of challenges. Zoning laws and building codes can vary significantly by area and can be restrictive, whether the home is mobile or stationary. The small size of these dwellings also presents practical challenges, from storage limitations to hosting guests.
Finding suitable homeowners insurance for tiny homes can also be challenging. Unlike traditional housing, which all comes relatively standard, tiny homes become a big insurance problem because many can move. People often live in RVs, which can be insured, so why is insurance for tiny homes so different?
Understanding home insurance for tiny homes
Tiny homes are problematic for an insurance company. Stationary tiny homes are easiest to insure, but a provider is going to want assurances that the home is built to code. If you’ve built the miniature dwelling yourself, odds are the insurance provider will be disinterested in helping you out. For most tiny homes, if it’s not certified by the National Organization of Alternative Housing (NOAH), your insurance provider will not cover it. If you did get your tiny home built by someone who was NOAH certified, and even if it can move — as long as you don’t intend to move it more than once a year, you may be able to get a mobile and manufactured home policy.
If you intend to move your mobile tiny home frequently, most insurance providers will classify the dwelling as something similar to a recreational vehicle. However, they won’t insure you unless your home is certified by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). If you have that certification, you can get insured under an RV policy, which protects the small home, whether parked or moving.
If you own a tiny home not certified by either of these organizations, getting insurance is difficult, but you’re not out of luck. These homes have been trending, and many companies have created specific policies that can tailor to your tiny home’s specific needs. You still may need to prove that the wiring and plumbing are up to code.
Factors affecting tiny home insurance
Various factors can influence insurance for tiny homes. What type of coverage you need, whether it’s available in your area, and your premiums can all change greatly depending on the situation.
- Size and Construction: Insurance providers require a specific certification, which will require your tiny home to be a specific size, and built to a particular standard.
- Location and Mobility: If you can move your tiny home, it has added risk and liability while on the road. Also, different locations can impact the cost to be insured, whether the home is mobile or stationary.
- Value: Like all things, the more valuable it is, the more it will cost to insure.
- Liability Coverage: This covers you if someone is injured on your property or if you cause damage to someone else’s property. This is crucial, especially if your tiny home is mobile.
- Local Regulations and Building Codes: The local regulations in your area can also impact your ability to insure your tiny home. Some insurers may require proof that a tiny home meets local building codes before offering coverage.
For the most part, your tiny home will be covered much like an RV. Your liability would cover road collisions or accidents, but your premiums would be higher as a result. Coverage for tiny homes is getting easier to find over time, but you may have to search more than expected for proper coverage.
How to get insurance for tiny homes
These steps will help you get insurance for your tiny home.
- Understand Your Needs: You’ll want to start with whether your home is stationary or mobile. You’ll want to know the value, including all your belongings inside, and whether there are local regulations or risks to consider.
- Research Suitable Insurance Types: If you have a NOAH-certified tiny home, you could get it insured at most places. If it is RVIA certified, RV insurance is an option for you. Otherwise, you might need specialized tiny home insurance.
- Request and Compare Quotes: It’s always important to compare quotes. Pay attention to the price, scope of coverage, policy limits, deductibles, and exclusions.
- Speak With Insurance Agents: Don’t hesitate to ask questions when speaking with insurance agents. Does the policy cover the total replacement cost? How does the policy handle personal property coverage? Is liability coverage included? What is the claims process?
- Review and Purchase: The cheapest policy isn’t always the best one; you want something that offers maximum coverage for your situation.
- Reassess Regularly: It’s never a bad idea to consider whether your insurance coverage is adequate based on your situation.
Tiny homes are a growing trend, so many insurance places are becoming increasingly familiar with how to help people looking to get insured. If one place can’t help you, don’t hesitate to ask if they can recommend a place that might. You’ll find the insurance you need for your tiny home if you exercise patience and perseverance.
Case studies of tiny home insurance claims
Here are some examples where tiny home insurance proved vital for the homeowner.
- Theft of a tiny home on wheels: Sarah owned a mobile tiny home, which she parked on a property while she was out of the country for a vacation. When she got back, somebody had stolen the entire tiny home. Thanks to Sarah’s tiny home insurance policy, which covered theft even when the home was unattended, she recovered the total value of her home.
- Damage due to extreme weather: John owns a stationary home in an area where heavy snowfall is common. One winter, the accumulated weight of fallen snow on his roof caused it to collapse. John’s insurance policy provided coverage for weather-related damages, so he could get the roof repaired promptly. John’s policy didn’t cover him for temporary living expenses, which he had to pay out of pocket. This oversight in coverage made John pick his policies with more care in the future.
Insurance for tiny homes is important. Unfortunately, things happen, and you want to be covered if your investment is damaged. With all coverage, the devil is in the details, and you want to ask your insurance agent many what-if questions before you purchase their coverage. In the event of a disaster, you’ll be relying on your policy for answers, so you want that policy to be as helpful as possible.
Insurance is an important aspect that protects any large purchase or investment. You want to ensure that if a disaster befalls your home, your insurance company will help you recoup some of that loss. If you own a tiny home, it’s imperative you reach out to providers and find coverage that’s right for you. While it’s not always easy to find insurance for tiny homes, it is becoming more accessible as time marches on.
While you’re considering the benefits of tiny home insurance, this is a good time to consider a home warranty. Home warranties cover your major home systems, like the plumbing and electricity — basically everything your insurance does not. When your belongings are adequately covered, you can rest with peace of mind inside your tiny home.