What do I need for my tiny house insurance in Massachusetts?

Tiny house insurance in Massachusetts is required for construction, transport, and parked tiny homes. Obtain RVIA certification to qualify for RV and auto insurance and receive collision, liability, and contents coverage.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Massachusetts law requires auto insurance for tiny houses while being towed on public streets
  • RVIA Certified homes are more likely to be easily insured
  • It’s important to review local ordinances regarding tiny home living

Tiny homeowners are often seeking a new adventure away from traditional homes. However, it’s just as important for tiny homes to have the appropriate insurance coverage as traditional homes.

There are also additional coverage issues for tiny homes that must be taken into consideration that aren’t an issue with traditional homes.

It is imperative tiny homeowners protect their investment when the home is being constructed, traveling or is parked. Use our FREE quote tool to compare insurance today!

Insuring Your Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) in Massachusetts

In the early days of tiny houses, owners discovered that the unusual nature of a THOW (tiny home on wheels) raised unique insurance coverage issues.

Tiny homes that were left in a permanent location were easy to obtain coverage for, but many insurers were slow to offer policies for tiny homes that were mobile.

Thankfully, the insurance industry has adapted and there are coverage options for most situations.

A tiny homeowner’s policy is a good option if you do not intend to move more than once or twice. Like a traditional homeowner’s policy, these policies extend coverage for the following:

Generally, these policies will cover everything related to your tiny home except for damage during transport and theft of the entire home. There are a variety of different policies that will cover both of those exclusions.

One of the innovations from the insurance industry that assisted in coverage for tiny houses is the decision to allow RV Insurance to tiny homes that are intended to be more mobile.

RV insurance has liability, content and structural damage coverage, and Massachusetts law requires liability coverage for tiny homes being towed.

Another coverage option originally used for other purposes that has lately been used to cover a THOW is inland marine insurance policies.

Traditionally used for businesses that haul tools or goods, many insurers are now applying these policies to a THOW that is intended to be mobile. These policies are often less expensive than RV insurance but don’t extend liability coverage.

Another coverage option for your THOW is a traditional automobile policy. Auto policies cover tiny houses much like cars in that they provide liability coverage but do not cover the structure or contents of your THOW.

Using an automobile policy usually requires coupling it with other types of policies to achieve full coverage.

Finally, many circumstances make renter’s insurance policies a great fit for your THOW. A renter’s policy will cover the personal belongs inside your THOW in cases of theft or loss as well as provide liability coverage.

However, a renter’s policy won’t insure the THOW itself.

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Coverage during Construction

Most people considering a THOW realizes that they will need some kind of insurance coverage when towing or living in it. But not everyone considers the risk of not having full insurance coverage during the construction phase as well.

Ensuring appropriate coverage is critical whether you’re building your tiny home yourself or having a professional builder do it.

Building Your Own Tiny Home

Many tiny homeowners have opted to build their THOW themselves. This DIY option is not only rewarding but potentially saves an owner thousands of dollars.

There are insurance issues that come up when building it yourself, however. While there are many parts of

While there are many parts of tiny home building that can be done by DIY enthusiasts, having all of the electrical work handled and certified by a licensed electrician is safer and makes getting your THOW insured much easier.

It’s also worth considering a separate insurance policy covering your building materials during the course of the build. Material theft happens, and protecting yourself in that situation can keep your THOW from busting your budget.

Once your THOW is completed, it’s a good idea to seek certification from the National Organization for Alternative Housing (NOAH). NOAH Certification indicates a home has met minimum safety and construction standards.

The certification process involves submitting to a third-party inspection of your THOW. If you meet all of the requirements, you’ll receive the NOAH Certification.

This certification will make it easier to obtain insurance coverage and give you access to more public parking places.

Hiring a Builder

DIY building isn’t for everyone. And while using a professional builder will cost more you’ll also have peace of mind knowing some of the risk of building you THOW is no longer on your shoulders.

Builders are responsible for insurance at the time of building and are required to handle any issues if they arise. That includes insuring and keeping your building materials secure.

Furthermore, using a builder certified by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) gives insurers an idea how reliable your THOW will be. This makes it much easier to obtain insurance coverage.

Coverage during Transport

Your coverage needs change from the moment you attach your THOW to a trailer hitch. For most policies, this is the bright line between when a THOW is either parked or mobile.

It’s critical that you considered the status of your policies before you consider moving your tiny home.

Moving a THOW that is only insured as a mobile home can leave large gaps in coverage. Your coverage decisions while towing your home will depend in part on whether your home is RVIA certified or not.

As mentioned above, RVIA certified homes enjoy much broader insurance options. Most important is the access you’ll get to RV policies. As discussed above, RV coverage is a handy all-in-one coverage option that will cover your THOW inside and out.

Coverage for collision, content protection, and liability leaves no gaps for your THOW. You will still need standard auto coverage for any tow vehicle.

The price of your policy can vary depending on how you plan to use your THOW. There are two types of RV policies: full-time vs. recreational. Full-time policies are intended for users who always live in an RV.

While more expensive, they also provide more robust coverage. Recreational policies are for occasional use and are less expensive.

The insurance process is a little more complicated for a THOW that is not RVIA certified. RV policies are typically not an option which makes bundling multiple policies a necessity. Often the best option is to bundle auto coverage, an inland marine policy, and renter’s insurance.

The automotive coverage will provide liability coverage, the inland marine policy will cover the structure of your THOW, and the renter’s policy will cover loss or theft of the possessions inside your THOW.

Some auto insurance policies will require a trip endorsement before covering the transport of your THOW.

With policies having different requirements and coverage amounts it is recommended to compare 3-4 automobile insurance policies before selecting one. Only by viewing these policies side by side can you make an informed decision.

Coverage while Parked in Massachusetts

After parking your THOW your best option for coverage is a tiny homeowner policy. These all-in-one policies will prove your THOW with liability coverage, content protection, and coverage structure damage such as fire.

Some insurers will have additional requirements to insure a tiny home. A policy may limit the number of times you can move your THOW or even require approval before moving.

Others may require you remove your wheels and skirt your tiny home to make them semi-permanent.

Massachusetts law has no specific regulations regarding tiny houses, but it is important to check your local ordinances to determine how your THOW might be regulated.

For instance, Nantucket, Massachusetts only began allowed tiny homes as of 2015.

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Navigating through Your Tiny House on Wheels Insurance Options

The key to avoiding insurance coverage gaps is to have a vision for how you plan on using your tiny house before you ever address insurance coverage.

Once you have that in mind, compare multiple policies to find the right coverage.

Always be upfront with your insurer about what your intended use for your THOW is; telling your insurer your home will be semi-permanent when you plan to travel frequently can lead to losing coverage.

Finally, you should always review your policies every six months to make sure your coverage is adequate and still the best value. Use our FREE quote tool to compare insurance today!

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