THE BEST VAN CONVERSION INSURANCE FOR 2022
When we started dreaming of traveling and living in our DIY van conversion, one of the last things on our minds was insurance.
The excitement and anticipation of traveling, camping, and adventuring in your van are one of the most fun things about owning a camper van! You have been dreaming and planning this for quite some time now.
Wake up with a view of the ocean, or snow-capped mountains from the windows beside your bed. Have coffee on your rooftop deck overlooking a foggy country lake.
Those dreams and eventual reality come at a price. Or, should I say, they come at a “premium” price. *rim shot*
To do these awesome things, you have to have insurance to be compliant with your state DMV. (Department of Motor Vehicles) Most states require a minimum of liability insurance in order to register, title, and license your van conversion.
Getting pulled over for any reason and being unable to present a current insurance policy to the law enforcement officer could land your van in the impound. No one wants that to happen. It could be a very expensive ordeal.
Overall Best Van Conversion Insurance
Obtaining insurance for your van conversion is not as hard as some people would have you think. Albeit, it isn’t as simple as getting your personal auto insured, it is however doable.
Esurance is the answer for all of your insurance needs, including van conversion, skoolies, and RVs. As a one-stop shop for all insurance-related problems and solutions, Esurance offers competitive rates from carefully curated selections of leading carriers to make sure you’re covered at an affordable price.
With their online sales approach and multiple carrier options, they are able to offer lower rates than other traditional insurance companies while extending good discounts on safe drivers or policyholders with responsible records.
The prices will depend on these factors as well as more specific details like driving record/vehicle specifications so be sure to get in touch with them!
Esurance offers comprehensive coverage that provides peace of mind when it comes time to buy new van conversion Insurance policies – whether yours has been damaged by fire or theft;
Here is the most important thing about getting your van conversion properly insured.
Be honest about everything!
You may be surprised at how many people tell little white lies or misleading information about their DIY conversion just to get that little piece of paper that shows they have insurance.
With over 17 years in the insurance claims business with major insurers of RVs, expertise, and knowledge is something I gladly offer to others.
After several years of managing a specialized group that only handled RV insurance claims, my understanding of RV coverages is unrivaled. I also worked and managed a team of special investigators who investigated fraudulent RV insurance claims.
My experience in the claims industry gives me a unique insight as to how to properly insure your skoolie as well as what coverages you should purchase when insuring your skoolie.
Keep in mind, however, that I am not an insurance agent and it is always best to consult your local or national licensed RV insurance agent when considering and purchasing any type of coverage for your van conversion, skoolie or RV.
Be completely honest when answering any questions about your DIY conversion to be insured.
Any misrepresentation could not only result in a denied claim but could potentially land you with charges of insurance fraud.
How To Get Insurance For My Van Conversion?
One of the biggest obstacles we have heard others complain about is how to get insurance for a DIY converted vehicle.
DIY converted vans are a specialized type of vehicle. Unless you have the title changed from personal vehicle or commercial vehicle to “RV” or “MotorHome”, many insurance carriers will not insure it.
This is a good time to once again emphasize how important it is, to BE HONEST and transparent about the type of vehicle you are wanting to insure.
You can easily get away with misleading the insurance company or telling them a few little white lies about your self-converted van to an RV, but when push comes to shove and you have to present a claim, you are likely going to get denied coverage.
It is much easier to get your van insured as an RV with some of the more essential or popular coverages if the conversion was done professionally.
When I say “professionally” what I mean is that a company whose primary purpose is to renovate and convert vans to class B motorhomes has completed the work. That company would also have to be licensed and insured against workmanship and installation mistakes.
What is the best way to properly obtain insurance for your converted van?
Talk to an agent, preferably a local insurance agent, and explain what you have done to your van and what you would like covered in the event of an accident.
Be Honest and Transparent!
Did you complete the conversion yourself?
Do you have a rooftop deck? This is often an automatic rejection from all of the carriers who may ensure your van conversion. There aren’t very many, if any, insurance underwriters who are willing to accept that risk.
Falling off the top of your van deck could result in thousands upon thousands in medical bills and liability exposure.
What type of electrical system do you have and who installed it? Electrical fires, which would fall under “Comprehensive Coverage” is one of the more frequent insurance claims aside from collision.
There are companies who will insure your van conversion just as you have built it. The key to obtaining that insurance coverage is matching the risk and coverages to the premium you will pay.
I will say this once again, I have spoken to many people who own a DIY van conversion who have not been forthright with their insurance company on the extent of conversion and what it is they are attempting to insure.
When and if they ever have a claim, I am telling you know from 17 years of insurance claims experience, they are going to be denied coverage.
If the insurance company is so inclined, and there is enough evidence and paper trail of information, the skoolie owner could be subjected to charges of insurance fraud.
So, be honest. There are companies who will grant you van insurance. You just have to be willing to pay for the appropriate premium and be patient in finding a company willing.
What Kind of Insurance Do I Need For My DIY Van Conversion?
There is a term that is thrown around very loosely when people talk of insurance coverage. I have even heard professional insurance agents and claims adjusters use the term.
When people purchase insurance for their personal auto, RV, boat, motorcycle, or anything else they are wanting to insure, they sometimes use the term or phrase, “full coverage”.
There is no legal definition for “full coverage” regarding RV or any other type of property and casualty insurance.
If you purchased every type of coverage offered with every type of endorsement available, then you could be “fully covered”
Generally speaking, however, there is no such thing as “full coverage” insurance.
There are minimal coverages and there is, as I mentioned, purchasing everything in the book.
Full coverage to you may mean something totally different to someone else. Just because you have liability, uninsured, comprehensive, and collision coverage doesn’t mean “full coverage”
My best advice is to do your own homework. Understand what each type of coverage allows for in all circumstances.
Read the policy jacket (your insurance policy) and ask as many questions to your agent as it takes for you to completely understand what the coverages mean that you are spending money on.
Here is a general breakdown of typical RV coverages and what they mean to you.
Liability Van Conversion Insurance:
This coverage is split into two parts. The first part is Property Damage. The second part of your liability coverage is Casualty.
Liability Property Damage;
This coverage will protect you from having to pay for someone else’s physical property damages in the event your negligence caused their damage.
Liability coverage is typically split into three amounts of coverage. The coverage on your policy may look something like this.
This is called liability split limits coverage.
What these numbers represent is that if you are negligent, for an accident or incident then the insurance company will pay up to $100,000 in medical loss to any individual, but no more than $300,000 of medical loss per any given accident or singular incident.
If the exposure to someone’s medical claim against you is greater than $100,000, then you could be legally liable for any amount exceeding your policy limits.
The higher the limits you purchase, the more protection you have. The higher the limits you purchase, the higher your insurance premium is going to be as well.
The third number represents the property damage limits you are responsible for in an at-fault accident.
$100,000 is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for someone’s property damage that you are legally liable for due to your own negligence.
Let’s look at a different amount of liability coverage.
Liability Coverage Example
So, this amount of coverage would pay up to $10,000 in medical expenses for any individual. A maximum of $30,000 for any single accident or incident. A maximum amount of $10,000 for any property damage per ancient or incident.
It is important to understand that the $10,000 property damage coverage is not per individual or piece of property, it is only $10,000 per accident.
In other words, you are at fault for an accident. Your negligence has resulted in the damages to someone else’s vehicle in the amount of $11,000.
If your liability PD (property damage) limits are over that amount, say $15,000, then you will have no out-of-pocket liability to cover the other person’s damages.
However, if your liability PD limits are $10,000, then you would still likely be legally liable for $1,000 after your insurance has paid the policy limit maximum of $10,000.
This coverage would protect you from having to pay any medical, lost wages, or “pain and suffering” to anyone to whom you caused damages due to your negligence.
Both the property and casualty payments to others are only up to your policy limits. If their damages are more than your liability limits, you may be responsible for the excess damages you caused them.
Just as with the Property Damage limits, your skoolie insurance policy would only cover those expenses up to the maximum amount of your purchased coverage limits.
So, all that to say, it is wise to purchase liability limits above and beyond your state’s minimum requirements.
Collision Van Insurance Coverage:
Collision coverage is a part of your van conversion insurance that pays you for the damages to your van caused by your own or possibly someone else’s negligence.
This coverage almost always comes with a deductible. The lower your deductible is, the higher your insurance premium is going to be.
The deductible works like this.
Let’s say you have a single-vehicle accident in your van that caused damages of $8,500. That means it is going to cost $8,500 to repair your van to its pre-accident condition.
Of that $8,500 in repair costs, you are responsible for $500, if your collision deductible is $500.
If you have a $1,000 collision deductible, then your responsibility is $1,000.
So, your insurance company would pay you $8,000 in the first scenario and pay you $7,500 in the second scenario.
Collision coverage provides you with insurance to pay for your insured vehicle’s damages regardless of who is at fault for the loss.
Comprehensive Van Insurance Coverage:
Comprehension insurance coverage for your van conversion works exactly like collision coverage deductibles.
Comprehensive coverage is considered a not at fault incident and typically does not go against your underwriting record. That means, your insurance premium is not likely to increase due to a comprehensive claim.
However, there are some differences here. Collision covers your loss in the event your insured vehicle collides with something. Whether that is another vehicle or a stationary object.
Comprehensive coverage covers a loss to your insured vehicle for all other damages that is not a collision.
Fire, theft, water, hail, and vandalism are all incidents that would fall under the umbrella of comprehensive coverage.
There is a collision situation that falls under comprehension instead of collision coverage.
When you make an impact with an animal, it is covered under comprehensive coverage.
Your comprehensive coverage deductible works exactly the same as the collision coverage deductible.
Uninsured Motorist Van Insurance Coverage:
Uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage protects you from damages to your property or medical self in the event someone else is liable for your damages and they do not carry liability insurance or enough liability insurance.
To qualify for a UM/UIM insurance claim, there have to be two elements present.
- The other person has to be legally responsible for your damages
- They do not have liability insurance or an insufficient amount of liability insurance to cover your damages.
UM/UIM skoolie insurance coverage will compensate you for not only your property damage and medical loss, but it will also compensate you for lost wages if your injuries require you to miss work. You may be entitled to “pain and suffering” or sometimes called” inconvenience” payment.
Hotel costs, RV rental, and meals may also be covered under your UM/UIM coverage under the appropriate circumstances.
UM/UIM coverages are very similar to your liability coverages. The difference is that the coverages are meant to compensate you and your passengers instead of a third party’s damages.
UM/UIM coverages may never exceed the liability limits you have purchased.
In other words, if your van insurance has liability limits of 10/20/10 (which means $10,000 single medical, $20,000 total medical per accident, and $10,000 property damage) then the maximum amount of UM/IUM coverage you can purchase is also only 10/20/10.
UIM coverage stands for Under-insured Motorist.
What that means is simply that the other party who is legally responsible for your damages has liability insurance. However, they lack an adequate amount of coverage to compensate you for all of your damages.
Person A is negligent and 100% liable for an accident you are involved in. Their liability coverage is a minimum of 10/20/10. ($10,000 injury coverage to a single person. $20,000 casualty (injury) coverage maximum per accident. $10,000 maximum property damage.
Your damages are:
Medical costs and bills of $35,000. A passenger in your vehicle has $25,000 in medical bills and costs. The repairs to your skoolie are $18,000.
Their liability coverage is insufficient to compensate you and your passenger for all of your damages.
There is an excess amount of $40,000 for you and your passenger’s medical costs. There is an excess amount of $8,000 in property damage to your skoolie.
Your liability, as well as UM/UIM limits on your van conversion insurance policy, is 100/300/50. That means you have $100,000 available for medical costs and bills for you as well as up to another $200,000 for any qualified insured person that is a passenger in your van. You have $50,000 of UM/UIM coverage to compensate you for any damages to your skoolie.
You would then be able to file a UIM claim for the damages Person a’s liability coverage was unable to cover.
Check with your insurance agent as to whether your state requires UM/UIM coverage. If not, this is optional insurance coverage. Even though it may be optional for your state, it is highly recommended you purchase this coverage for your protection.
Emergency Roadside Assistance Coverage:
This is a “must-have” insurance coverage for your van conversion. Most of the time when your van breaks down due to a flat tire or mechanical issue, the cost to repair can be potentially expensive.
Let’s say you run out of diesel and the closest fuel station is 100 miles away. Being able to get to the closest fuel depot is only half the battle. The cost to fuel your van to get to the closest fuel station could require several gallons of expensive diesel fuel.
Having Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage will pay for a vendor to bring you the needed fuel wherever you are.
What if your van has to be towed?
A tow for a van can be well into the hundreds of dollars. Depending on where you are stranded and how far away your skoolie is from the closest repair facility it could be potentially several thousand dollars.
Emergency Roadside Assistance will tow and deliver your van to the closest qualified repair facility at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
The typical situations where emergency roadside assistance comes in handy are dead battery replacement, running out of fuel, blown tire(s), electrical issues, lost keys, stuck in mud, sand, or snow, and mechanical breakdown.
If you are a full-timer, your insurance company may not offer this coverage to you. In that situation, it would be prudent to purchase supplementary emergency roadside assistance through a company such as Good Sam, AAA, or Coach-Net.
Trip Interruption Coverage:
Trip interruption coverage is supplementary insurance coverage you can purchase if you are not a full-timer.
This coverage will compensate you for emergency hotel, food, and possibly even rental coverage should your skoolie breakdown while on a vacation trip.
The circumstances and extent of coverage will vary per insurance company, so be sure to thoroughly read and understand your policy coverages before purchasing this coverage.
If you are still unsure of how the coverage works, ask your licensed insurance agent to explain this to you.
Full-Timer Van Life Insurance Coverage:
*If you are going to be living in your RV full-time, purchasing full-timer insurance is a very good idea.
This is where I remind you to be blatantly honest with your insurance agent. If you spend more than 6 months living and or traveling in your van, then Full-Timer RV insurance is a requirement you do not want to be without.
Full-timer RV or van conversion insurance will protect you not only from liability to others while driving and operating your skoolie, but it will also protect you from others’ damages while you are parked and stationary.
Some of the coverages that go along with a Full-Timers package include the following coverages.
Medical Coverage to Others: This protects you from having to pay someone else’s medical bill due to an injury while entering, exiting, or occupying your skoolie, regardless of liability.
Personal Liability Coverage: This coverage protects you from paying medical or property damage to others while driving or parked stationary. This coverage requires that you be legally liable for the other persons’ damages.
Storage Shed Contents Coverage: This coverage protects you from damages to your personal property while it is being stored in a shed or building that is owned, leased, or rented to you at the time of the loss.
Campsite Liability Coverage: This coverage protects you from any damages you are legally responsible for to others’ property including medically-related damages. This coverage will not be available to a full-timer as it is intended for the occasional or part-time skoolie user.
Personal Effects Coverage: Personal effects coverage is another supplementary coverage available to full-timers. If you have a lot of valuable property that travels with you, this could be beneficial coverage in the event you experience a covered loss.
Medical Coverage to Others:
PE coverage goes above and beyond what your regular full-timer policy will cover in regards to personal property. As with all insurance coverages, there may be limits to the amount of coverage for certain types of personal property.
It is advisable to discuss this with your insurance agent so that you are aware of how much of your personal property is covered.
This optional coverage is great for the van conversion owner who does not anticipate making any insurance claims against their policy.
Disappearing deductible will reduce the amount of your collision and comprehensive deductible for each completed policy term you go without a claim being submitted against your van insurance.
This is how it works with many insurance companies.
For each policy term, you go claim-free, your deductible will diminish by 25%. If you continue to be claim-free for four consecutive policy terms, your deductibles will be $0.
Your deductible will remain $0 until you have or submit a claim against your skoolie insurance. At that time, your deductible would go back to the original amount and you would then start over.
Adding disappearing deductibles to your insurance plan can save you money in the long run if you don’t anticipate needing to make a claim.
In some states, medical payment coverage is optional, and in others, it is required, so make sure you know the law for your state.
Med Pay, as it is often referred to, pays for any medical expenses you or anyone else entering, exiting, or occupying your van accrues.
Even if you have medical insurance, MedPay is a great option to have because it would be considered primary coverage and this saves you on high health coverage deductibles.
It does not cover general or routine medical care, so using it as supplemental medical coverage would be a good idea.
Personal Injury Protection:
Sometimes referred to as PIP coverage protects you and any passenger in your skoolie from expensive medical bills that result from a covered loss.
Depending on the state where you have purchased your van conversion insurance, it may even cover lost wages from a covered loss as well.
Pet Injury Coverage
If you are anything like we are, your pet is as much a part of your family as your children. If you are in any type of accident, it is very likely and probable that your accompanying pet might also get injured.
Pet injury coverage would pay for any and all veterinary-related costs due to a covered loss. It would even cover accidental death expenses.
This type of van conversion supplementary insurance is only available to domesticate animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and possibly reptiles.
Just like with Med Pay and PIP coverage, this is not primary healthcare coverage. It will only kick in where the pet has sustained an injury as a direct loss from a covered loss.
Mexico and or Canada coverage is a must-have if you intend on traveling south or north of the border. Note that most RV insurance policies only cover you in the event you have a loss in the United States.
If you have a loss while outside of the United States, you may be on your own for all damages incurred. Also, be aware that in Mexico, if you do not have vehicle insurance coverage, it is a criminal offense that could land you in jail.
* To dive any kind of vehicle in Mexico, you must purchase Mexican Insurance from a qualified, listened agent inside of Mexico. You can purchase the Mexican insurance policy online while you are in the United States, but it has to be a Mexican policy.
If you have any questions about this, do not hesitate to reach out to us directly.
Fire Department Service Coverage
Believe it or not, some municipalities will try to charge you for a fire department service call in the event you are in an accident or experience a fire in your van conversion.
Although these charges can be disputed and are arguable as to whether you are legally liable for them or not, this coverage will pay for those reasonable and customary charges associated with a covered loss.
Do I Need Insurance Before I Drive My Van Home From the Purchase?
Yes! That is the clear, short, and precise answer. Here is why you need insurance before you drive your van home from your purchase.
Anytime you drive any type of vehicle on the roadway, you need to ensure it. The insurance is to protect you from any liability mishap that may occur. Even if it is wholly or even partially your fault.
Getting liability coverage will protect you in the event your negligence causes injury or damage to someone else.
Also, it satisfies any mandatory liability insurance coverage that may exist in your state. Should you get pulled over by law enforcement or get in an accident, you will be covered.
The coverage purchased for your trip to where you are going to build your van is up to you.
Purchasing the minimum required liability coverage may make you legally qualified to drive on public roads. You may be grossly underinsured to cover you in the event of an at-fault accident.
If you fail to purchase collision or comprehensive coverage and your van is damaged beyond repair on your way home, you may not have any insurance at all to cover your newly purchased van.
In summary, yes, you should most definitely purchase insurance to cover your van in the event of a loss.
Do I Need Insurance While Converting My Van?
Yes, you definitely need to have some insurance for your van while you are converting it. Here are a few reasons why you will want adequate and relevant coverage.
Mind you, as I have stated before, I am not a licensed insurance broker or agent. My advice and information only come from my personal experiences.
The type of insurance needed while converting your van would best be determined by a local licensed insurance agent.
Generally speaking, however, there are two types of coverage you will likely want to consider while the conversion is taking place. These coverages will both protect your financial interest as well as your liable interest should something go sideways in the course of the build.
Check to see if there is a liability policy you can purchase that protects you in the event someone is injured while working on or around your van conversion at your direction.
If someone is on or even around your van and receives an injury from directly or even indirectly working on your van, then you could be liable and responsible for their medical bills and injuries.
Also, in the event, your van catches fire and causes resulting fire or smoke damage to any neighboring structures or vehicles, a liability-only policy may cover you in such a loss.
How Much is Van Conversion Insurance?
This is one of those questions we hear over and over again. How much is van or RV insurance going to cost me? Can I afford van insurance? What if the van insurance is too expensive?
These are all relevant questions that even we have pondered prior to obtaining an insurance policy for our van conversion
The quick answer is, that it varies of course.
Just like auto, life, and homeowners insurance, your premium is going to be influenced by a number of variables.
Your driving record is the main consideration for your premium amount. Other variables such as whether or not you are married, own a home, credit score, age, education, and the year make, and model of the vehicle you are attempting to insure.
The type of insurance coverage you are wanting to purchase has another significant factor in your yearly or monthly premium.
The best advice when getting a quote for your van insurance is…..you guessed it! Be honest, forthright, and transparent when it comes to the questions being asked by your insurance agent.
Misrepresentation will result in a denied claim and possible criminal charges. It pays to be honest when dealing with insurance.
Van conversion insurance as well as other expenses in van life can certainly add up. We wrote a piece on How Much Does Van Life Cost to help others in planning just what they need to effectively and safely live van life.
How Can I Reduce My Van Conversion Insurance Premium
There are several ways you can decrease the amount of your van’s insurance premium. The best and most reliable way to reduce your insurance premium is by having a good driving record.
Citations and accidents remain on your driving record for up to five years. Keeping a clean driving record makes the insurance underwriters very happy.
It’s always good to run a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) report on your driver’s license every now and then.
Another way of reducing your van life insurance premium is by taking a vehicle safety course. You can present proof of completion to your insurance.
They may consider reducing your premium since you have shown you take safety and risk seriously.
Another sure way to reduce your van or RV insurance policy is by cutting back on some of the coverages. We do not recommend this method, however, we realize that sometimes you have to cut corners due to finances.
Be very wary of reducing or eliminating coverages. You never need insurance coverage, until you truly need it.
Shop around once you have already obtained van insurance. As tough as it is to find someone to adequately insure your van, once you have it, you are good.
Check other carriers periodically and get a quote. A quote does not obligate you to purchase nor does it disqualify you from your current insurance policy.
You may be surprised to find out there are other companies who want your business!
The Wrap Up
Insurance! Definitely not the most exciting topic when thinking about your van life.
It is, however, one of the necessary evils of being a responsible van conversion owner. Insurance is one of those “adulting” things we all must grin and bear.
Instead of taking the p[erspective of “having to have insurance” we choose a different approach to van conversion insurance.
We like to look at van conversion insurance as a benefit and a sense of security. It gives you confidence as you trek into the BLM lands and boondock off-grid.
Driving your self-converted van off-road, over mountains, and through deserts requires confidence and skill. However, accidents, whether our fault or not, happen every day.
Having the proper coverage to protect your tiny house on wheels and your loved ones is the only way.
Here is another in-depth blog post on skoolie/van conversion insurance.
If you are not sure where to start to get a quote for your van conversion, drop us a note. We will be glad to help steer you in the right direction.
Until then, happy adventuring!