Buying a school bus is only half of the headache: Getting school bus conversion insurance is a whole new can of worms! We’re going to elaborate on some of what we uncovered when finding bus conversion insurance for one of the harder states: New Jersey.
How to Get Bus Conversion Insurance
Since getting registered was so easy, getting bus conversion insurance should be a breeze, right? Yeah, THINK AGAIN. We spent DAYS calling multiple insurance companies and getting constant denials. School bus conversions are tricky, and most agencies don’t want to insure them since they’re “homemade”.
For the most part, it seems like most people who have skoolies are insured with Allstate or State Farm using an RV / Motorhome plan. Depending on the state, these insurance companies may even give issues or tell you no. But, don’t feel too discouraged. You will find something eventually!
It’s also important to know that some companies, including National General, did require “proof” of a fully converted RV. Underwriters will generally need pictures of the following:
Photo of the Back of the Bus to Front
Photo of the Front of the Bus to Back
Once that many insurance companies saw that we had a roof deck and solar panel rack on our skoolie, we were quickly denied bus conversion (RV) insurance.
So, Skoolie Insurance Solution if You’re in NJ or Another Difficult State?
UPDATE AS OF 12/2020: Not pointing fingers, but one of us forgot to pay the insurance bill. As a result, Allstate canceled our plan in Vermont and wouldn’t reinsure us in that state. Unfortunately, this forced us to look into every other option possible since we need insurance to be street legal.
South Dakota: South Dakota was our first option. We know that getting our registration transferred from VT to SD plates would be simple since we went through the same process with another car. As for an address, we were attempting to use a PO Box. The only company that agreed to write us a plan using that state was State Farm.
Florida: Since we already knew of Kelly Newsome and have family members that live in Florida (so, a valid address!), we decided this would be the best option for us. The process was incredibly easy through Allstate and was approved for a Florida plan within a few days. We’re only paying $60 per month – much cheaper than our plan in VT!
Vermont: We secured an address from family to get insurance from Allstate in Vermont. The state’s rules were different and we didn’t have to get a second auto plan. On top of that, the price was cheaper (even with roadside assistance) at approximately $110 per month.
New Jersey: We came across Allstate Insurance and talked to Kelly Newsome in Florida. Kelly is experienced with the skoolie underwriting process and put us in touch with an NJ state representative. Ultimately, we got quoted for a bus conversion insurance plan that included roadside assistance for $160 per month. The issue was that the company required a personal auto insurance plan to know that the bus wouldn’t be used as a “personal” vehicle. So, we’d have to pay another $80 a month for auto insurance. They also required us to have our Vermont registered bus transferred to NJ registration. The price and time were just too much for us and we had to opt for something else.
Side Note: While they couldn’t really help us in our state, Auto Insurance Specialist (AIS) is also a great resource that will provide you access to multiple insurance providers with great coverage and rates. According to AIS, the following are what insurance companies base their decisions on:
- Your bus must show living quarters similar to an RV. Stovetop, sleeping quarters, and possibly a bathroom space(but not required).
- You cannot live in it full time.
- Your bus must be in good condition. It cannot appear that it is a makeshift job and should meet professional standards. AIS, among other companies, may require the bus to have its decals removed and yellow paint covered.
- The insured driver must be a good driver and have a clean record within the last 3 years.
- You must have active personal auto insurance and will be asked for proof because they do not want people driving their bus as a “primary” vehicle (work commute or for personal errands).
- The policies available are usually only liability and uninsured motorist protection and do not usually include comprehensive, collision or any contents coverage.
- Wood stoves or the “appearance” of are not allowed.
Bus conversion insurance is tough, and sometimes certain states are easier than others (NJ is difficult). The best option is to keep calling around and being patient! Luckily, Allstate processed the underwriting within a day and we were able to LEGALLY drive our converted bus after an entire week’s headache!