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Best Home Insurance for Tiny Homes (2020 Top Companies + Tips)

Tiny home insurance can be an RV policy, a mobile home policy, or a specialty home policy; a few companies write policies specific to tiny homes. Top companies for tiny house insurance include Lloyd's of London, American Modern, and Foremost.

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Apr 29, 2020

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Overview

  • Tiny homes can be categorized in a variety of ways, meaning there are various types of insurance available to find the best home insurance for tiny homes
  • The average cost of a tiny home is $65,000, making them an affordable option
  • You may need to have your tiny home certified to qualify for some policy types

Tiny homes are the newest trend and their popularity is on the rise. They are efficient, affordable, minimalist — and confusing to insure.

Companies, including big-name insurers, have started offering insurance policies for tiny homes to meet the demand. You can even buy Lloyd’s of London tiny home insurance – and they’re one of the oldest international insurance companies around.

Due to the fact that tiny houses come in various types and serve different functions, finding the right insurance for one is not as clear as you would hope.

The options are confusing at best, and you’re likely worried that you won’t find out you’ve made the wrong choice until you have to file a claim.

We’ll help you start your search for the best home insurance for your tiny house by breaking down the insurance options for your dwelling. This article will also define what a tiny home is and how it should be insured.

Read on to learn about the options for insuring tiny homes and some of the best insurance companies out there for these special dwellings. if you’d like to see some numbers, enter your ZIP code in our free search tool above.

What is a tiny home?

A tiny home is precisely what it sounds like — a very small house. As a general rule, tiny homes are between 100–400 square feet. There are two main categories of tiny homes: homes on wheels and stationary homes.

Here’s a look at some iPropertyManagement.comtiny home statistics.

Tiny Home Statistics
Key InfoDetails
Average Cost of a Tiny Home$65,000
Average Rate of Appreciation for Tiny Homes19%
Percent of U.S. Real Estate 1%
Number of Tiny Homes in the U.S.10,000+
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There’s some wiggle room on how small a house has to be to fit into the tiny category, but there are some restrictions on the size if you want to move that tiny house around.

According to Tiny House Design, a company that builds tiny houses, the limits on how big your house can be in order to take it on the road are as follows in most states:

  • 13.5 feet tall
  • 8.5 feet wide
  • 40–65 feet in length, including the trailer

Before trying to move a tiny house, make sure to check the laws in your state as well as any local ordinances. Houses that are larger will generally require a special permit to be moved.

Beyond the rules attached to moving the vehicle, your tiny home can be any size you like once it’s staying put.

According to Tiny House Design, tiny houses have gotten bigger over the years, leaving some to wonder if the movement is heading in the wrong direction. But, as National Association of Home BuildersEye on Housing reports, the average size of new construction homes in the U.S. is sitting at 2,584 square feet in 2019, so anything under 1,000 square feet is pretty small.

Zoning regulations can affect the building and location of your tiny house.

While laws have been changing across the nation to make it easier for people to live in their tiny homes, many places still have sizing requirements for newly constructed homes.

According to the Tiny House Society, the tiny house rules differ significantly by state; it’s not just about where you can build your house but also where you can park it if it’s on wheels.

Some of these regulations will affect your ability to get insurance, as most insurance companies won’t cover unpermitted construction. You won’t be able to get permits if you’re not up to code or zoning regulations.

Tiny homes and RVs are not quite the same thing, although they have some similarities and can be insured the same way. They’re both small, self-contained living spaces, but tiny homes usually have a more house-like construction. Some people do live full-time in their RV, but tiny homes are more likely to be a full-time stationary residence.

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The Basics of Tiny Home Insurance

The insurance needs will differ between these two categories. A house on wheels needs coverage for transportation to protect it while it is on the road.

In addition to that, you will need coverage for personal property inside the home as well as liability coverage for injuries or damage done during transportation or while in a campground or RV park.

Your auto insurance will likely extend liability to the house when it’s on a trailer and being towed, but that doesn’t cover you when you’re not on the road.

For a stationary home, your coverage needs will be slightly different. You will need structural coverage, in case anything happens to the building itself, and again you’ll want personal property coverage.

If the home is on a lot where there are other buildings, like a storage shed, you need to cover that as well. Finally, your tiny home needs liability coverage as any other traditional house would.

Types of Home Insurance for Tiny Homes

There are a few policy types you can choose to cover your tiny home. Which is right for you will depend on the type of home and how the home is used.

Let’s take a closer look at the main options available to you. We’ll also discuss the differences between tiny homes that are built on-site, those classified as RVs, and mobile or manufactured homes.

Tiny Homes & RV Insurance

If you think of an RV as a tiny home on wheels, you’re not wrong. However, not every tiny home has wheels and not all of those that have wheels can be classified as RVs for insurance purposes.

To do that, they need to be approved by the RV Industry Association (RVIA). In some cases, a tiny home on wheels may be insured as an RV but must meet the RVIA’s standards and have a VIN.

Some, but not all, tiny house builders meet these specifications. Tiny home manufacturers can apply to the RVIA in order to earn the seal of approval, and some help their customers obtain insurance more easily.

Take a look at some of the differences between traditional RVs and tiny homes in the video below.

If that is the case with your tiny home on wheels, an RV policy is your best bet — even if you live in the tiny home full time, you can get a full-timer’s RV policy. This policy will cover you for transportation as well as providing vacation liability and personal property coverage.

Full-timer RV coverage also provides more protection for your personal property. We’ve put together a Best RV Insurance list.

Mobile & Manufactured Home Insurance for Tiny Homes

If your home does not qualify as an RV, your best bet is to look into mobile home insurance. These plans are designed mainly for full-time residences and provide all the coverage of a homeowner’s policy along with available coverage for the occasional moving of the house.

A mobile home insurance policy includes coverage for the dwelling, personal property, liability, and loss of use, just as any homeowners insurance policy would.

Either way, you can obtain a policy that covers the house itself as well as providing coverage for your personal property. The policy should also include liability and coverage for loss of use, especially if your tiny home is a full-time dwelling.

According to Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, you need to be aware of some requirements for a mobile home policy including a special certification.

“If your tiny home is NOAH certified (NOAH is the National Organization of Alternative Housing) you’d be eligible for a manufactured home insurance policy, which would be the best option in this situation,” he says.

NOAH certification, which can be done remotely, can help you to have more options for your tiny home insurance. Even DIY tiny homes can be insured if they are NOAH certified.

Take a look at how a NOAH inspection works and what it can do for tiny homeowners in the video below.

Several big-name insurance companies write mobile home insurance policies, and there are also companies that specialize in this sort of coverage. While you won’t find State Farm tiny house insurance, for example, you might be able to get a mobile home insurance policy from State Farm, as they do write that type of policy.

Insuring Tiny Homes Without Wheels

If your tiny home is site-built (meaning it was constructed from the ground up in its current location), your options are a bit more varied. These homes can be insured similarly to any other site-built home.

If you have built the home on the same property as a larger, primary residence and plan to use it as a guest house, it may be covered under the primary insurance policy as a separate structure.

This means it would be an extension of your existing home insurance. In most cases, the coverage of the separate structure is a percentage of the dwelling coverage.

The other coverage on the policy will also be extended, including personal property and liability.

Even a tiny home that is located off of your main property may qualify for an extension of coverage from your homeowners insurance.

This is commonly done for seasonal homes such as cabins, cottages, and lake houses that are second homes and not used all year. Contact your current home insurance company to find out what options they offer.

If you can’t insure your tiny home with your main homeowners policy, you can look into specialty dwelling insurance programs. There are a lot of programs out there that are designed for homes that don’t meet the standards of a traditional policy.

Depending on whether or not the house has a foundation, it may be classified either as a manufactured home or as a regular dwelling.

Some, like the Lloyd’s of London tiny home insurance program we’ll discuss below, were even designed specifically for the needs of this unique dwelling. If you have more than one option, you can compare the coverage as well as the cost to choose the best policy for your needs.

Bear in mind that how your tiny home is used has an impact on the coverage you can obtain.

A full-time dwelling is insured differently from a seasonal home, guest house, or a rental.

If you plan to rent the home out, either as a vacation rental or a full-time rental dwelling, your coverage needs change quite a bit.

You will need a policy that protects you from different liability risks. Insurance companies won’t insure a non-owner-occupied home with the same policy as one that is owner-occupied.

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Comparing Tiny Home Insurance Options

Insuring tiny houses is difficult, there is no way around it, and because there is so much variation in the homes, we are unable to guarantee that all of our picks will cover every possible home.

That said, we started our search with specialty insurers that are known for taking homes other insurance companies turn down.

We chose companies that offer insurance for both site-built dwellings and for mobile and manufactured homes. We also looked for companies that offer RV coverage, but focused on companies that offer the largest variety.

While the choices are limited, we still looked for companies with a good reputation. Our choices also cover the widest geographical area possible.

A company that will not pay out on claims is not worth your premium dollars.

Tiny home insurance has been a changing market, and more companies are starting to see the opportunity. You will see that our list starts with a very big-name company that was quick to get on board the tiny home bandwagon and offers a policy that’s specific to that market.

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Our Top Recommendations for Tiny Home Insurance

These three companies are known for specialty home insurance programs and for working with homes that are difficult to insure. They’re not presented in any particular order; all three will provide options to get your home covered.

Each has its own area of specialty, so you might want to look at the one that most suits your situation and needs before comparing it to the others.

Darrell Grenz Insurance logo

Darrell Grenz Insurance/Lloyds of London Tiny Home Insurance

Darrell Grenz Insurance is an insurance agency that has partnered with Lloyd’s of London to create an insurance policy specifically for tiny homes. This was the first company to create a tiny home insurance policy, and it’s still a good choice.

While the coverage is currently only available in a handful of states, the agency is working to get licensed across the country and plans expansion soon.

The policy is based on a Dwelling Fire form, or DP-1, which is a common type of home insurance that’s used for specialty dwellings. It provides coverage for the dwelling and can also have personal property and other protection added as needed.

The policy has been adapted to allow for the specifics of tiny homes, which may include different foundations or even wheels.

A DP-1 policy isn’t as comprehensive as a homeowners insurance policy. Some of the other options on the market, like a mobile or manufactured home policy, offer broader coverage and more options.

Still, this is a great option to have for those tiny homes that don’t fit into existing insurance categories.

Lloyds of London is a well-known and very stable specialty insurance company. They are an international insurance company that provides a wide variety of coverage in many niche areas. That means these policies, while sold by a small insurance agency in the Pacific Northwest, are backed by a very solid underwriter that you can trust to pay claims.
Foremost Insurance Group logo

Foremost Tiny Home Insurance

Foremost Insurance is a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance Group, and they have been writing specialty insurance for decades. If you’re looking for Farmers Insurance tiny house coverage, they will likely send you to Foremost.

They started out as a mobile home insurer, which means they have a lot of experience with that type of policy.

They also write a wide range of specialty dwelling coverage, from vacation homes to low-value dwellings — and they also write RV insurance.

Regardless of where your home falls into the list above, there is a good chance Foremost can insure your tiny home thanks to their wide range of products. They will back it with the financial status of one of the biggest insurance groups in the country, which brings additional peace of mind.
American Modern Insurance logo

American Modern Tiny Home Insurance

When it comes to specialty dwelling insurance, American Modern Insurance is one of the best. A lot of other insurance companies partner with American Modern to handle the homes they cannot cover. In fact, if you seek out either Geico tiny house insurance or a Progressive tiny house insurance policy, you will probably wind up at American Modern, which partners with both big-name companies.

They have policies for seasonal homes, low-value dwellings, manufactured and mobile homes, and more.

A larger company might not be able to insure your tiny home because it doesn’t qualify for their homeowners program and they don’t write the type of policies for which it does qualify. That’s why companies like American Modern are out there, to fill in the gaps. While there are a lot of specialty home insurers, they’ve become one of the biggest and most popular.

Among specialty dwelling insurers, American Modern has a good reputation. They may not be able to insure every tiny home, but they’re one of your best bets to get it covered.

Shopping for Tiny House Insurance

It is always worth checking in with the company that writes your current home insurance or even your auto insurance to see what options they may have available for specialty home insurance. Even if they do not write it directly, they may partner with another company and even provide a multi-policy discount.

If you are having trouble finding the right insurance, it’s a good idea to try working with an independent agent or a tiny house insurance broker. They can shop your tiny home around to various insurance companies and with different policy types to see if you can find a good fit.

It will save you time and get a pro on the case — there are several agencies across the country that focus on helping tiny homeowners find coverage. An agent can point you in the direction of a company you may not have heard of, but that has the right policy for you.

Because many of the companies that sell specialty insurance are smaller, they tend to work with independent agents.

Some of these companies are local or regional and don’t have the advertising presence of the big names, but they do have the knowledge of your local area needed to get you the right policy.

We recommend getting an idea of your insurance options before you buy or build a tiny house. Because insuring any kind of house that is built by a certified builder is easier, you may want to reconsider any DIY plans you have — but if you really do want to build it yourself, consult with an insurance agent before you get started.

Knowing what you are in for before the build is complete will prevent any surprises when you try to get insurance later.

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Where is your tiny home located?

One last thing to consider when it comes to insurance is the location of your tiny home. Some tiny homes are meant to stay in one place, while others are designed to move around. Either way, it is likely to impact your insurance options.

It’s not unusual for people to build tiny homes for the main purpose of going off the grid. In other words, they want to live away from civilization and enjoy a quieter, more peaceful lifestyle.

What insurance companies see, however, in your middle-of-nowhere location, is added risk. The distance from emergency services means a higher likelihood of an expensive claim, particularly when it comes to a fire. There are also liability risks to homes that are far away from cities and not used as full-time dwellings because no one is around to keep an eye on the place.

These risks apply to homes of all sizes that are far away from cities, but since tiny homes can already be hard to insure, this might make it a bit harder.

Mobile home parks tend to be a bit easier to insure, because they are already established and there’s data for insurance companies to consider. That may be part of why tiny home communities are popping up all over the nation. Similar to mobile home or RV parks, they’re designed for those that want a tiny home with a sense of community.

The Tiny Home Industry Association keeps a list of the tiny home friendly communities by state. Some are tiny homes only, while others may be a blend of different types of homes.

If your tiny home moves from place to place, insurance companies will take a different view of how to cover it, and the address where you keep it won’t have as much of an impact.

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Insuring a Tiny Home: The Bottom Line

Because tiny homes are new to the insurance market and straddle the line between several possible types of home policy, they are a challenge to insure. As their popularity grows, there will likely be more insurance companies offering tiny home-specific policies.

In the meantime, check out all of your options and choose the coverage that best meets your specific needs.

Even though it may seem like your options are limited, you can still shop around to compare rates and coverage. There’s no reason to overpay for coverage. After all, tiny homes are meant to be an economical choice.

Ready to start comparing rates? Try our easy quote tool below – just enter your ZIP code.

References

  1. https://ipropertymanagement.com/research/tiny-home-statistics
  2. https://tinyhousedesign.com/how-big-tiny-houses-have-become/
  3. http://eyeonhousing.org/2019/05/new-single-family-home-size-first-quarter-2019-data/
  4. https://www.tinysociety.co/articles/tiny-house-laws-united-states/
  5. https://www.rvia.org/standards-regulations
  6. http://www.tinyhomeindustryassociation.org/tiny-home-communities/

About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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