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How to Get School Bus Conversion Insurance

How to Get School Bus Conversion Insurance

One of the most asked question in the Skoolie community is, “How do I get school bus conversion insurance?  Next comes, “What is needed to get school bus conversion insurance? When the bus is converted, what companies will insure the bus?” Then comes the dreaded question that no one really wants to hear the answer to, “How much does school bus conversion insurance cost yearly?” Finally, people want to know, “Why is getting school bus conversion insurance so difficult?” If you are one of the people seeking to figure out a way around the insurance roadblock, help is on the way.

How to Get School Bus Conversion Insurance

The first bus Jeff and I bought was from a local church. We didn’t think anything about insurance until I was searching the internet for everything Skoolie and started reading that some people were having trouble getting their school bus conversions insured. Right away, Jeff called our agent at State Farm and he said that all we needed to do was get the bus titled as an RV and we would be good to go. Sure enough, a few days later we had insurance. No Problem!

Despite all the chatter on social media about Skoolie owners having trouble getting insurance, I never once thought we would have a problem when we bought our second bus our second bus. We got the new title and imagine my surprise when Jeff came home and said,

We got the new title and imagine my surprise when Jeff came home and said,

“State Farm can not insure the bus until the bus has a kitchen sink, toilet, bed, and an independent power source.”

Well, Crap!!

What are we suppose to do in the meantime?

Jeff and I decided to just not concern ourselves with the problem. We were not going to be driving the bus anytime soon, well unless you count the time that Jeff just had to pull it out of the driveway and take it for a spin on our road. He said something about it “had to be driven”.

If you ask me, I think it was one of those big boys and their toys moments. Just saying…..

Anyway, other than the joy ride down our street, the bus just sat in our yard until it met State Farms requirements. Once the seats were out, I took photos. When the kitchen sink, toilet, bed and stove was in place, I held a photo shoot in our bus. Jeff emailed the photos to our agent who said that he would do all he could to get us liability coverage.  A few days later, the dreaded call came in that the underwriter needed more photos of the outside showing that the stop sign and stickers had to be removed.

We waited….

And waited….. Several days went by and no phone call.

A few more days and finally our agent called.

We have school bus conversion insurance.

Since this day, I decided that there had to be a solution to the dreaded bus conversion insurance problem. The Skoolie community is growing everyday and the tiny house movement is in full swing. People need to know what they need to do to qualify for school bus conversion insurance.

What qualifications are insurance companies looking for before writing a policy for a bus conversion?

I have spent time interviewing agents from State Farm, Progressive, and two other companies. The things I keep hearing are:

#1 The school bus needs to be titled as a motorhome.

#2 The driver needs a good driving record. (If you have had an accident and tickets in the past 3 years it will be harder to get insurance and it will cost more.)

#3 You must live in a state that allows school bus insurance coverage by the company.

#4 The VIN number. It should be located on the title.

#5 Insurance companies need to know that you meet all Department of Motor Vehicle standards.

#6 Proof that the bus has the sign and flashing lights removed, seats removed, an independent source of power, water and toilet, and sleeping area.

What companies provide school bus conversion insurance?

The first thing you want to do is ask your own insurance company. You know the one that you get car insurance and/or homeowner insurance from. Often these local companies, who hold your other policies will do all they can to help you. If you are like us, we have been with our agent for years, and he didn’t want to loose our business.

The local company may give you a discount for backup cameras, security systems, or even a drivers discount course. This is where going with your current auto policy company may save you some money. Ask your agent if you qualify for a multi-car discount, homeowners discount or good credit score discount.

If you can’t get your school bus conversion insurance through your auto insurance provider, here is a list of a few companies that have been known to cover Skoolies.  Most of these companies require that you show photos of the conversion before they will issue a policy.

Check out these companies: State Farm, Farm Bureau, Liberty Mutual, Good Sam, National General, Progressive, and AIS.

Remember to keep a good attitude with the agent. As my Grandma always says, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Why is getting insurance so hard?

After talking with our agent, he said that insuring a DIY conversion is a risk for several reasons. The first one is in the past, inexperienced people were not building the inside securely. During an accident, furniture was sliding around, cabinets were coming apart from the wall and the owners were filing claims for personal damage. The second reason that companies quit providing comprehensive insurance was that several buses had electrical or water damage due to inexperienced and no inspections.  Currently, most companies that provide bus conversion insurance, only provide liability.

Let me know in the comments what company gave you Skoolie insurance. Tell me about your experience in the comments.

If you are in need of more information on how to get school bus conversion insurance, get our new ebook Cover Your Bus: Solving the Insurance Nightmare. It gives you tips, advice, and suggestions on how to get insurance from the moment you purchase the bus, through conversion, and then as a motorhome. I’ve taken hours of interviews with agents and written down their advice for you.

37 Comments
  • Gay Boston
    Posted at 17:15h, 07 March Reply

    We had a horrible time trying to get any coverage at all. We’ve been with USAA for over 30 years. They referred us to Progressive who just said no. We tried State Farm, Farmer’s, and several others. Finally saw a post on Skoolies about coverage for a “commercial vehicle for non-commercial use”. Back to USAA and an agent who took the time to listen. She arranged coverage through Progressive, but they said they will not cover it once it’s converted. (This is FL coverage, as we are using the bus to move there and had it titled & registered there.) I guess we’ll be back to searching for coverage once the conversion happens. For the move, we’re just repairing/replacing all the rusted portions, replacing the subfloor & floor, and installing new driver and navigator chairs. FL has no inspection requirements, so we should be ok there (and along the way, we hope). Where do I sign up for the new course?

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 15:24h, 10 March Reply

      Hi Gay, I have heard of this happening over and over again. I hope that the new eBook that I am writing will lesson the insurance nightmare for future school bus conversion owners. Make sure you are signed up for our newsletters and you will be in the first group of people to get the course information.

  • Wesley Lyon
    Posted at 18:02h, 08 March Reply

    I had a rough time also. What I finally found out was that at first you say absolutely nothing about your plans of what you want to do.
    1. Try to keep the words school bus out of the conversation if possible until asked.
    2. Tell them you bought it as a toy and not sure what you are going to do with it…storage maybe a family outing or something ‘but’ all of the seats are out, or most are.
    3. Let them know you want to insurance as a Commercial vehicle for personal use.
    ***The reason I did this was because, even though i wouldn’t be driving it that much I wanted it to be legal for the road in case I needed to take it somewhere and to get my inspection, so I could get my title.
    As a side note. To transfer the title to my name from the school district, I told them the same thing to get the school bus info of the title as much as possible. Next year or in the next 6 months when I am done with the conversion I will go for the RV title…with lots of pictures. 🙂 hope this helps people

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 15:16h, 10 March Reply

      Wesley, You were not alone. I hear this over and over again about insurance. I have an eBook coming out soon with more tips, suggestions, and solutions to this insurance nightmare. It includes the information gleaned from interviewing several insurance agents. One thing in the book is what you suggested above. Don’t tell more than someone needs to know.

    • Just some dude
      Posted at 16:37h, 09 October Reply

      You really shouldn’t try to keep any info from your agent. Being dishonest on an application can lead to a denial in a claim situation. Remember, you sign the application acknowledging you’ve been truthful.

      • discoveringus
        Posted at 11:24h, 06 November Reply

        We totally agree! There is a difference in not divulging information not asked and being dishonest on an application. Most applications ask for a VIN number which is going to tell them it is a bus. This is the reason for getting the title change as soon as possible. If the title states it is a motorhome, it is a motorhome.

  • Nicolas
    Posted at 01:21h, 13 March Reply

    Very useful info. I’ve been googling this for the past few weeks and randomly found this. Thanks!

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 23:21h, 15 March Reply

      Nicolas, I am glad you found us. It is great having you onboard. I am in the process of writing a Solving the Insurance Nightmare eBook that is coming out in April. If you sign up for our email list, you will be notified when it is released.

  • Kat
    Posted at 20:08h, 17 July Reply

    Friends!

    My boyfriend and I live in Florida, are buying a skoolie from Indiana, and moving to California with it converted. Any suggestions on how to go about getting insurance for it? I’m not sure if I should insure it in California or Florida…or which company would be the most reliable.

  • Pete
    Posted at 22:10h, 02 August Reply

    Is there any info regarding insurance for turning a school bus into a party Bus? I live in Michigan and see them in concert venues all the time.

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 17:51h, 08 October Reply

      Hi Pete, As of today, we have not completely converted a bus into a “party bus”. Therefore, I am not sure. I would think that due to transport others to and from an event the insurance would be more costly than that of a typical motorhome. But that is just my guess. – Missy

  • Paul Bevilacqua
    Posted at 12:26h, 15 August Reply

    just found this site while trying to find skoolie insurance and read that you have Bus Buying Service (what is meant by bus buying service?) do you find the bus for me and if so what does that service cost?

  • Gerald Fike
    Posted at 23:58h, 27 September Reply

    Same problem here in Florida as those above. Just have the title paperwork and halfway done with my conversion. About to try and get insurance again in about 3-4 weeks and would very much like to read your info!

  • Eric McLain
    Posted at 20:18h, 24 November Reply

    We converted our first bus, a GMC PD 4106 that had been a Trailways line coach, years ago. Had already joined FMCA. Noticed that their insurance affiliate would not insure us without an inspection, joined Good Sam and got insured with them, GMAC. Now we have converted a forty foot Thomas ER. Still with Good Sam. As well as our cars. Highly recommend.

  • Derek pryor
    Posted at 13:52h, 19 December Reply

    I am in the searching process now for an appropriate school bus for conversion. My first question is once i have purchased one what is the best way to get it home? I would like to avoid the cost of having it towed. Can i drive it?

  • Desere Hitzhusen
    Posted at 10:05h, 15 February Reply

    Hi there! Really enjoying your blog, what a life! Skoolie dreaming here, and wondered what kind of coverage you were able to get. Does it cover personal items? Theft? Curious to know! Thanks so much!

  • Aaron
    Posted at 16:28h, 21 February Reply

    So, I just checked Good Sam and they have 0 selections for Bus conversions. Also Progressive and National General both are no go’s. Yeah it’s Starting to look bad for insurance.

  • Angie
    Posted at 17:53h, 22 February Reply

    I was about to ask that. I am possibly buying a bus tomorrow. How do I get it home without a tag?

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 19:16h, 22 February Reply

      Hi Angie,

      It depends on the state. Most of the time the Bill of Sale is good for at least 30 days. Be sure you have the title handy.

  • Tiffany
    Posted at 23:27h, 19 March Reply

    Would the same requirements go for a short bus? We do not want to add a shower, toilet, or running water as it would just be used for short term camping trips where the campsites provide bathrooms and shower houses.

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 23:31h, 25 April Reply

      Tiffany, it really depends on the insurance company.

    • Barbara Sklar
      Posted at 13:17h, 24 November Reply

      Hi Tiffany,
      We are also hoping to buy a short bus and have similar intentions. I am wondering what you may have come up with for insurance?
      Thanks.
      Barbara

  • Jasmine
    Posted at 18:06h, 17 April Reply

    Do you need to have a second car to get insurance on your bus? I’ve read that it’s harder to get insured if your bus is your primary vehicle, but I would like to sell my car to help finance the bus purchase, and I won’t really have anywhere to store my car once we start living in the bus full-time.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 22:54h, 25 April Reply

    Hi my husband and I bought a bus that had been converted years ago and it even has a motorhome title; since they got the title they striped it bare again and we are rebuilding it. we have beds and a camp stove as a cook source and a bucket toilet until we can further convert it we had progressive as our insurance company for the past year, but now they say they cannot insure it due to it being a converted skoolie we are travelling to California
    from Az this summer to attend a family members wedding and need to figure out how to get insurance for our extended home for the trip, any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • Amanda Noble
    Posted at 12:43h, 30 April Reply

    This is good to know. Thanks!

  • William G StCyr
    Posted at 13:35h, 02 July Reply

    That website “skoolieinsurance.com” is no longer doing insurance – referring to National General instead:

    Next Steps…
    Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to offer any further school bus conversion quotes. This program has been canceled due to difficulties meeting the needs of the very unique insureds that own skoolies. For school bus conversion insurance, please call National General (877) 468-3466 and reference Martin Burlingame.

  • Anna Marie Sprain
    Posted at 19:49h, 19 September Reply

    Missy we have been with Farmers for years and when I bought the bus they covered it under Commercial Van until the conversion was complete and with the MH registration they then switched it to a MH policy. The day it was switched I did have to go to the office and provide the receipts for everything involving the conversion. So advice to all keep records of everything!

    • discoveringus
      Posted at 23:40h, 05 January Reply

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and let us know. Safe travels!!

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