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What do you wish you had known before you started renovating your dirtbag van?

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145
Anna Swanson wrote:

definitely! but to lose it all without adequate insurance coverage would be quite devastating. like I said, at this point, they dont even want to insure it as an automobile because its more than that, but apparently not quite an RV to their standards. 

Im way under insured at the moment while I sort this out.  It would take a very long time to recover financially if something happened. 

It really sucks! Its crazy, they just turned the tables on me after I already had a policy built out for it. whatever though, I'll figure it out.

and yeah, perhaps I shouldn't worry about something happening. being paranoid about it wont help. however, I can't ignore the potential consequences. The reality is, I'd be quite screwed for quite a long time and I know it would've been worth it to shell the cash for something insurance would recognized as a manufactured RV.

from my relaxed side: Hell with them. I love my van, I loved building it and it was much cheaper haha

Have you had any trouble getting liability insurance? I'm not that concerned if it takes some time to work out other insurance, but liability insurance has to happen immediately because it's legally required in my state.

Owen Donnelly · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 146

If you are converting a sprinter, don't worry about making it "Stealthy". Theres nothing stealthy about a sprinter van.

Anna Swanson · · Jackson Hole, WY · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 30
David K wrote:

Have you had any trouble getting liability insurance? I'm not that concerned if it takes some time to work out other insurance, but liability insurance has to happen immediately because it's legally required in my state.

Yeah, I am having trouble getting any insurance on it. I've worked with multiple companies at this point, even with the question "Is there ANYTHING you can do?"
I also talked to a company that converts vans to see if they would look at my systems and certify it. He said even as a business building systems his customers struggle with insurance as well. He didn't want to do certifications on builds that weren't his anyway (understandable)
I joined an RV club that is assisting with the problem now. I'm waiting on paperwork, We'll see where it goes.
Another option would have been to build a simpler van so I wouldn't have ended up in the in-between. Then just skip the full-time benefits.

Yeah, I 100% know the shit storm I'm in lol. 
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Just  register it as a  truck  and don't  tell them  it's a build.  That's what the  lady on the  phone  told me.  

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145
Nick Goldsmith wrote: Just  register it as a  truck  and don't  tell them  it's a build.  That's what the  lady on the  phone  told me.  

I'm not a lawyer but it seems like that could result in them not paying out.

Anna Swanson · · Jackson Hole, WY · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 30
David K wrote:

I'm not a lawyer but it seems like that could result in them not paying out.

It certainly would. They wouldnt cover it in an accident as an automobile if they see pictures and it doesn't qualify as an automobile. I would be lying to them about what they are agreeing to cover. They have every right to decline me at that point. 

Its very important to be 100% honest about what you have so they can't weasel out of paying for it in the event of an accident. 
jake T · · Park CIty, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

To stop caring what desk jockeys on a played out internet forum as a short mental break from their boring ass 9-5's slowly developing a pooch had to say and done it sooner

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

 not shure why all the hate for  van people wanting to find a  place to park. we stayed at Wallys in Ellworth Me last night.

 all kinds of rigs there. everyone from the uber rich to genuine homeless.  we saw this rig from Austrailia. 
  Its not just about a free spot to park. it's really all about  freedom to roam and park.  no point in have a van for freedom and then having to put yourself in a campground every night like a bunch of sheep.  When on the island which is super crowded and fragile environment we stayed in an official campground but on the way there and back we were free to rome…  One night at Wallys and one in a log landing in east nowhere ME... 
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

seems like some of the same people who hate on folks sleeping in their cars in resort towns like to go to those same resort towns and be waited on by the folks sleeping in vehicles because there is no affordable employee housing...

M Mobes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 910

You go on vacation and sleep in a lighted parking lot with a bunch of cheapskates in RVs. I'd personally shell out for a campground so I could wake up and have coffee in the woods or on the cliffs without driving.

Or bring me some yummy beer and park at my place in the woods a mile from the park?

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

wallys is fine if you  are passing through and need a safe clean place to crash.  it was on our way out of town and it was time to crash..   one night out of  4 on this short trip.   We only use wallys when we are stuck in urban areas...  thanks for the invite. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

as far as the insurance thing goes when I talked to progressive the lady just told me that she didn't hear what I told her about the conversion and we will just call this a truck.   Obviously she was just trying to make her commission. I did not go with that company. the next company I called I simply never mentioned a conversion and they did not ask. . I assume that means that they will not cover anything other than the base truck but as far as liability goes its likly  a non issue.. 

David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145
Nick Goldsmith wrote: as far as the insurance thing goes when I talked to progressive the lady just told me that she didn't hear what I told her about the conversion and we will just call this a truck.

Maybe she didn't hear it, but the recording "for quality assurance purposes" did. ;)

If you just want liability coverage to comply with the law, that will probably keep you from getting fined or going to jail for not having liability insurance, but if you actually want them to pay out, this all sounds like pretty shaky ground.
mbk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

I wonder what happens if a DIY electrical rig burns down a parking garage.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

This is precisely why I didn't  buy  insurance from her. 

Dan Cooksey · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

I have had insurance on my van in 3 different states and 2 separate companies (ANPAC and Liberty Mutual).  

I mentioned that my van was converted and I use it for weekend trips and vacations.   I don’t live in it full time

Things like climbing, camping equipment, etc would all be covered for things like theft or damage in an accident.

They are not likely going to pay for another build.  

I am willing to accept that.  The risk is worth the reward.

Either you don’t insure your van and do nothing, or risk a pretty expensive bill or
Law suit.

Or you insure it as a regular vehicle and continue to live your little van life dream.

  The most important thing is that people on Instagram don’t know or care how you’re insured.  So really, just make the staged cooking photos count. 

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

I asked my friend who has been in insurance for 35 years for his take on this aspect, pointing him to Anna's post and subsequent replies:


Yes, an RV policy will allow her to have coverage for personal property, whereas a passenger auto policy will not. Also, some insurers treat full-timers differently than weekenders, which is understandable as the risk assumed for a full-timer is far greater.

She's wrong about if her vehicle is totaled. The insurer owes actual cash value regardless, which would be the market value of the vehicle in its condition at the time of the loss. However, most personal auto policies will restrict the type of modifications on a vehicle that would be covered -- hence the need for an RV policy.

Most policies don't contain language about whether or not there's a bath facility, and what type. If she's getting that kind of restriction it's time to find another insurer.

All of this could be solved with a stated value policy, as the response from Mike Mooney mentions. However, she has to be sure that the stated value policy isn't one that just "caps" the coverage at the stated value, and nevertheless uses ACV for claim determination.
David K · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 145

That's great Marc, thanks for providing info from a real expert!

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Most of my regular auto policys only covered $500.00in modifications. Whatever ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz  . I have liability collision and comprehensive but undoer no illusions that I would get actual values if I was a fault.   much more interested in the build than the paperwork.  you can see her down there on the side of the road  under my feet soaking up the last of the days sunlight in her solar panels

  lot was full when I pulled in...
Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Mickey, do those brass ball catch rigs work???   The units I found in the marine supply store looked truck but were $45.00 ea....
Thanks. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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