Converted School Buses and Car Insurance

I received a call a couple of weeks ago from someone who’d been referred to me. The caller needed car insurance for a Blue Bird bus he and his wife were buying. Their plan is to convert it into an RV and live in it as they drive to different parts of the country where they’ll live and work for varying timeframes. The question is what kind of car insurance would they need and who’d write it?

I initially thought this would be an easy policy to write, after all, I have several carriers who write RVs. None would. I then called the underwriters with the broker firms I work with thinking they could write a car insurance policy for it but they couldn’t either. I struck out with all my carriers but had several interesting discussions which helped me understand the difficulty in writing such a policy. Below are the three issues which resulted in the “no” answers I received.

Commercial vs Personal: Blue Bird buses are recognized as commercial vehicles. Anyone who drives a school bus must carry a commercial driver’s license. A RV, on the other hand, is designed as a personal vehicle to be driven be anyone with a standard driver’s license.

Converting a school bus to a traveling home means changing the vehicle classification from commercial to personal thereby requiring an initial commercial policy until it’s converted to a RV. Once the conversion is complete it needs a personal, or RV insurance policy. No carrier or broker was able or willing to write the vehicle one way and then shift it the other way when the project was completed.

Intended Use: This line of reasoning from a couple of underwriters, is similar to whether this is a commercial or personal vehicle. It’s based on what the Blue Bird bus was originally intended to do, carry people. Converting from a commercial vehicle to a personal vehicle changes its original intended use and caused a couple of underwriters to say no. I run into this with a few underwriters when someone converts a commercial building, barn, etc., into a home. These companies won’t write a home which wasn’t originally built to be a home.

DIY vs Skilled Work: The other problem resulting in underwriters declining to write a RV or car insurance policy is who is doing the conversion work. The couple buying the bus are intending to do most of the work themselves. They will have a skilled electrician and plumber assist them with wiring and adding the kitchen and bathroom, but intend to do the finish out themselves.

DIY projects of this kind, as well as on kit cars, make underwriters decline to write an insurance policy unless the person doing the work has the training to craft such as conversion. The reasoning is an untrained owner who’s watched several YouTube videos does not fully understand all the issues such as weight distribution and its impact on steering, braking, etc. which may result in an unsafe vehicle.

The caller was disappointed I couldn’t find a policy for them, but I haven’t given up hope. We’ve added several new car insurance carriers and I’m hopeful one of them can write it. What do you think? Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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