Insuring a camper van

Insuring a Camper Van, Campervan Van Life, vanlife
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By Sarah Young  |   Last updated on October 25th, 2022 at 9:47 am

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A few years ago, a life of long road trips and exploring nature was something we could daydream about at our desks in the office. Now that remote work is more the norm, it’s possible to turn your travel dreams into a lifestyle. You can get the job done while taking your camper van to places you’ve never seen. And you can’t beat the commute!

Is a camper van different than an RV?

 Technically speaking, a camper van is class of recreation vehicle. There are three classes of motorized recreational vehicles (RVs):

Class A

These are the big guys. Think Winnebego. Class A motorhomes are approximately 21 – 45 feet long and often are built on a commercial truck or commercial bus chassis. These are the largest RV class and often the most expensive.

Class B

These are the smallest sized motorhomes, and the ones that look most like vans. Typically, Class B recreational vehicles are between 17 and 19 feet long, and the only true “camper vans”. These vans can usually sleep up to four people, and some come with a fresh-water tank and toilet.

Class C

The middle-sized of the three, Class C RVs are essentially a smaller version of the Class A and a approximately 20 – 31 feet long.  They are built on a truck or a van but usually have a cutaway. Often, they have sleeping quarters and a slide-out option to increase the space when parked.

Insurance on a camper van

Getting insurance on a camper van isn’t the most exciting part of van life, but it’s definitely a requirement. Most personal auto insurance policies have language that excludes camper vans from coverage. Imagine spending so much time and money on your camper van and then getting into an accident only to find that your camper van isn’t covered! We’re here to give you the information you need to be sure that doesn’t happen.

Personal Auto Insurance Policy

As we said above, many personal auto policies might contain certain language which could exclude a camper van from being covered. This can include a limit on gross vehicle weight and load capacity, as well as any modifications.

Class B RV Insurance Policy

If your modifications, as well as the items inside your camper van to be insured, you’ll need to get a Class B RV insurance policy. Your van has a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money put into it, so you’ll want to be sure you’re protected in all events, including if the van is totaled or broken into.

Different insurance companies and states have different requirements and definitions around what makes a van a campervan. If you have sleeping and cooking facilities in your van – sometimes this can be as basic as a mattress and a camp stove – some carriers will define that van being used as a campervan.

Other companies require the van to have running water, power, and even a toilet in some cases to be considered a campervan. Check the definitions that the insurance company you’re getting a quote from uses to define what a campervan is and what can be insured as a Class B motorhome. These requirements can vary by state as well.

Should my camper van be titled as an RV?

Some people say that retitling your van as an RV can help lower premiums but it’s worth checking with the specific insurance company you’re looking to do business with to find out more about this before jumping through those hoops.

Insuring a Camper Van Conversion

There is no doubt that insuring a modified camper can is tricker than insuring a standard RV. Insuring a DIY van conversion with RV insurance so the build is covered is doable, it just takes more effort along with carefully documenting what goes into your conversion. One of the reasons that DIY camper van conversions are difficult to insure is that it can be difficult to put a value on the overall build and the time you put into it.

There’s also no guarantee of the quality of the work so that’s another reason insurance companies may be more hesitant. Overall, some companies are willing to insure DIY van conversions and some aren’t so you may have to shop around a little.

What you’ll need to get insurance on a camper van

In order to be adequately covered in case of a claim, insurance companies want to see a paper trail. Otherwise, they’ll have no idea how to assess the value of the hard work and material costs that went into your conversion.

Be sure to have:

Documentation verifying your expenses

Keep all your receipts and invoices throughout your build process and make sure to track the labor hours put into converting or modifying your camper van.

Photos

In the event that you need to file a claim, having detailed photos of both the inside and the outside of your van, as well of the valuables inside.

Camper van insurance requirements

Just like personal auto insurance, RV coverage requirements vary by state, and you’ll need to check with the state where your camper van is registered to be sure you’re correctly covered. When getting a quote, be sure to have the year, make and model of your camper van, as well as the VIN, gross weight info, and all information pertaining to conversions or modifications.

Insuring camper vans is still a relatively newer concept to insurance carriers, so there is a good chance that this process will require a little patience.

If you’re able to plan ahead, it’s always best to shop around. Shopping for insurance ahead of time allows you to compare offers, determine the appropriate level of coverage and find a policy that’s right for you.

The bottom line is that insuring your camper van, whether DIY or not, can be tricky, but it’s important to get it right to make sure you and your property are protected, and you’re free to get on the road and blaze your own trail. Shopping around is the best way to make an informed decision.

If you’re insured with Elephant, or if you’re shopping around and want to see if Elephant can cover your van life goals, contact us to get a quote.



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