Knowing how to properly insure your van is CRITICAL! You have spent a lot of time and money on your conversion, so you want to make sure that entire thing is covered!
When looking to insure our van, we heard a lot of conflicting information regarding insurance for converted vans. The world of auto insurance can be confusing, so in this article, we’ll share how we went about getting insurance on our van. This does not make us experts in the field, but hopefully it can help you when you need to insure your van.
Please also note that we are insured in Utah. Although you’ll hear chain insurance names everywhere, they may not cover the same things in different states!
Start by making a list of the insurance companies you want to contact, grab a drink or some water, and prepare to make lots of phone calls! When we first considered getting insurance for our van, we thought it would be simple to add it to our normal insurance policy. It certainly wasn’t that easy.
We called all the major insurance companies before finally deciding on one. Only two companies even offered us coverage and the others flatly refused to insure our van because it was a DIY conversion. The reason companies weren’t prepared to provide a DIY conversion is that there is no guarantee that a DIY conversion will be done properly or safely.
We ended up going with the insurance provider we already had for other vehicles and our house; State Farm. We had to speak directly to our local insurance agent. Calling their general customer service and visiting the website was not helpful.
If you want to watch our fight for insurance, you can watch our “Van Insurance” story on our Instagram.
2. Make sure it covers the cost of conversion
When we first purchased the van, it was just an empty van with typical car insurance coverage. This meant that if the van was damaged, the insurance would only cover the cost of the van itself. Converting a minivan to a small RV is expensive! Even a simple construction costs thousands of dollars. You’ll want to make sure your insurance also covers conversion costs.
In our particular case, we have an additional endorsement on the insurance policy that covers the cost of the transformation. Be sure to keep receipts during the construction process in case you need to prove the cost of items to the insurance company. We ended up having to submit a few photos showing the interior of the van to prove it was a converted van.
3. May need to rename as VR
In order to cover the cost of converting the van, you may need to rename the van to an RV. This will depend on your insurer and state laws. The other company that would cover us was Allstate, but only if we rebranded it as an RV.
We didn’t have to rebrand our van as an RV for SateFarm, but we did review it. For our home state of Utah, having a vehicle renamed as an RV requires a vehicle inspection at the DMV. They are looking for proof that the vehicle is actually an RV conversion, such as a permanent bed configuration, bathroom, sink, toilet, etc. They can also verify that the conversion work meets certain safety standards. For Utah, this was also an expensive process, which also meant more expensive vehicle registration down the road, so we chose not to rename the van.
Some other notes on the title change as VR:
- You can legally drink alcohol in the vehicle (when parked) and not have to worry about DUI laws.
- It opens options for parking areas reserved for recreational vehicles.
4. Possessions in the van
This is a VERY important thing that many people forget, so don’t overlook this step. Make sure your insurance policy covers the cost of items in the van. The majority of vanlifers travel with everything we own including expensive computers, cameras, drones, outdoor gear…etc.
If the construction caught fire, you will also have to replace all these elements. We made sure to ask specific questions about this when we spoke with our insurance agent. You may need to purchase additional personal property insurance depending on who you are traveling with.
5. Every case is different
Before we started contacting insurance companies, we did a bunch of online/youtube research to see what insurance providers other people have gone through for their converted vans.
We made a list and called these companies first. Thought; “They already cover other vans, that should be easy.” It certainly wasn’t. It seems like everyone we spoke to needed a full explanation of the van conversion. There didn’t seem to be an official policy with any of the major car insurance companies.
We think it really depends on who you talk to that day. Just be patient and truthful, so you can get the appropriate insurance that actually covers your van, the conversion and your belongings inside!
For more information, check out our website!