The day has finally come! You've completed your professional or DIY van conversion, but before it's time to hit the road, you must insure your van. Getting insurance for a converted camper van can be tricky; however, this guide is here to help you better understand the process.
An Overview on Van Conversion Insurance
When choosing an insurance policy, a few things will affect your coverage options. The type of conversion, how you claim your van, where you plan to travel in it, and the features installed are all important factors. In addition, insuring a converted camper van will require you to research and review the specific requirements in your state.
You'll also need to call a few insurance companies before finding a policy that fits your needs. In the following sections, we will discuss various aspects to consider when purchasing camper van insurance followed by some tips to make the process smoother.
Types of Conversions: Professional vs. DIY
The truth is, professional builds are much easier to insure than DIY ones. That's because it's easier to measure the exact cost of a professional conversion and ensure it meets safety and weight distribution requirements.
For DIY converted vans, it can be more challenging to estimate the value and quality of the work. You will need to put in extra effort when looking for an insurance policy for your DIY build.
Whichever route you choose, it’s important to find and pull out relevant receipts, design documents, and proof or purchase from your process. If you've done a DIY conversion, you'll also want to document the number of hours you spent and everything you purchased to build it. All these documents will come in handy when you insure your converted van.
Types of Camper Van Insurance Policies
There are a few insurance options for your converted camper van: auto, RV, and personal articles insurance.
A standard auto insurance policy works if you've done a basic, inexpensive build, as it typically only covers accidents, theft, and other damage, depending on your provider. The policy usually doesn't cover interior modifications or objects inside your van. You’ll need to add on personal effects/articles coverage to insure those items, and even then, be sure to read the fine print to know exactly what it covers.
RV (Class B) Motorhome Insurance
To insure your van's conversion and objects inside, you'll need to apply for an RV Class B motorhome policy. These policies generally cover the interior build, your stuff inside, exterior damage, accidents, and theft. The exact amount covered will also vary depending on your policy.
Furthermore, what qualifies your van as a camper will depend on the insurance company and state. For example, some companies and states may consider a van with a bed and basic kitchen amenities a camper van, while others may require it to have power, plumbing, and running water.
One way to make getting RV insurance for your converted camper van easier is to retitle your van as an RV at your local DMV office. This step is only necessary sometimes as some insurance companies don't require it; however, it can help in the case of a DIY conversion.
Personal Articles Insurance
Depending on your policy, personal items, like bicycles, kitchen equipment, computers, etc., may or may not be covered. Additionally, RV coverage may not include van conversion products that aren't permanently fastened.
You should check with your insurance company and decide whether you need additional coverage.
Tips for Insuring a Camper Van Conversion
Here are some aspects to keep in mind to increase your chances of success when applying for van conversion insurance.
What you'll need
Document everything! You'll need detailed records of receipts, invoices, associated documents, photos, etc. Documentation is crucial for DIY conversions because these documents will help prove your van's value. Keep a detailed spreadsheet with each item, its cost, and the hours you spent installing each feature.
Each company will require different documents; however, it's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Talk to a local insurance agent
You may get rejected when requesting a quote or applying for insurance online or through a company's main phone line. It's a lot easier to understand the insurance process (and have success) when talking face-to-face with a local agent. You can try calling first, and if you aren't successful, you can go into a nearby office.
Be prepared to receive various quotes, answers, and requirements from different agents within the same company. Stay positive, ask questions, and keep searching until you find a policy and agent who understands your needs.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time
Insurance companies will want to know if you'll be living in your van full-time or part-time. If you plan to spend more than six months out of the year in your van, you'd be considered a full-timer and you’ll need a policy that adequately covers the costs and uses of your van.
There are different policies available for part-time van dwellers who use their van for less than half of the year. Sometimes companies offer reduced rates during the months your van is being stored and not in use.
Consider Liability Coverage
Full-time van lifers should consider adding liability coverage to their insurance package as this will cover almost anything that happens when your van is parked, like personal injuries or property damage. Depending on the company, full-time liability coverage may include personal liability, medical payments, and loss assessment.
Inquire About Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance is an add-on that some companies offer, and could be a huge benefit if you get caught in an unexpected situation. If you think you want or need this, ask your insurance agent.
Read Your Policy Carefully
Because there are so many differences between camper van insurance policies, you'll want to read the entire policy carefully. This way, you'll know if you are truly covered and what is included, especially in the fine print. It could also be good to have a second set of eyes or even another professional review your documents.
Make Lots of Calls
Getting your van insured can take a lot of work. Be prepared to call different companies, agents at the same company, and visit offices. Don't get discouraged if you're told "no." With determination and dedication, you will find a policy that covers you, even for your self-build.
Insurance Companies to Try
Roamly - A new company that's known to insure DIY and custom builds. Check if it's available in your state!
Foremost - Try this company for professional builds. It's a part of the Farmers Insurance Group.
State Farm - We have had no problem insuring Esplori-owned or customer vans. Check with an agent about your specific build.
Progressive - This company is another popular option for van lifers and has different policy options.
Finding an insurance company that will cover you for an affordable price can take some time. So be patient and try different options. If possible, consider insurance before starting your van conversion, as this may influence the route you decide to take.
Remember to document the conversion process thoroughly and know your vehicle's value (and weight). Finally, if you cannot get an RV insurance policy, you can always use regular auto insurance and personal effects coverage.