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Hey folks, I've got some insurance woes that I'm at my wits end with. Feel free to skip if you don't want to hear my sob story. Questions to help are at the bottom.

I've read threads here and elsewhere and I'm not sure if it's my state or what, but I am not having as easy of a time as others have had with insuring their Promaster campervans.

Let me start with what I have currently -- I have a 2018 Promaster Commercial policy through an insurance agency with Progressive being the owner of the policy. I pay a whopping $3000+ a year for this policy. Originally when I signed up for it the policy was for $2200 for a 2017 which I wasn't happy about but then I purchased the vehicle and it was a 2018 and then they bumped it to $3K or so due to the year change.

When signing up for that policy I informed them that I was outfitting it to be a campervan and they said "okay*we'll need to go with a commercial policy, let's see how we can do this". They asked what I do for work and I told them I'm a software engineer and I will be sometimes using the vehicle for working in, which they took as their way to have be a commercial policy.

I know I am being ripped off on this policy and the worst thing is that I don't believe I will be covered if I get in an accident. I have called progressive independently of this insurance agency I have my policy with and they told me they will not insure Promaster cargo vans that are converted in the state of Pennsylvania. This makes me thing that regards of my policy being commercial that they will deny any claim I make if I do need to in the future.

So knowing that I am being ripped off and don't believe I will be covered I have called around 8+ different insurance agencies in Pennsylvania looking for alternatives. I always tell them that the van is being outfitted to be a campervan. Usually the conversation ends there pretty immediately. Others will look around for a while and then get back to me that they cannot cover conversions of this type of vehicle.

I have looked into titling my van as an RV, which it seems might be possible to do in Pennsylvania. Progessive (who seems to be the prolific company that I continue to run into for this type of insurance) will only do RV policies if the vehicle is over 9K lbs, which van will not be. Maybe there is something here though?

Anyway -- those are my problems, here are my questions:

1. Any Pennsylvania conversion owners here that have found a good Insurance company that they recommend I reach out to? Do they know that your Promaster is a conversion? Did you run into these troubles?

2. Should I just switch tactics and go with trying to get a personal policy with a new agency and not tell them about the conversion? I was trying to avoid this as I know I will likely get denied if I submit a serious claim in the future, but I am almost resigned to this path at this point.

3. Has anyone gone to another state to title and insure their vehicle? I read somewhere online about staying one day in South Dakota (I think?) and then you're good to title and insure your vehicle there? Would anyone recommend this?

Looking for any help here! Thank you!
 

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#1 not me
#2 Go to the websites of insurers and apply. DON’T talk to any agent.
#3 Don’t be deceptive as that is a reason a claim can be denied.
Let’s be realistic here. If you have a Van that meets the conditions of a Class B RV it should be insurable. If you go about asking for, or discussing, commercial insurance any agent will sell it to you as their commission is HUGE. If you need to go that route for a few months to get the van converted so be it. Cancel ASAP
 

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Don't bother trying Liberty Mutual. I asked them about home-built RVs and they won't insure them. I live in Michigan but I don't think it would be any different in PA. It's probably a national policy.
Oddly, LM covers my handicap conversion as a modified Ford van. I pay the basic price plus an extra $67/yr for $5000 worth of modifications. That wouldn't cover the price of a new conversion, but I figure it's the extra value of my van over stock. I'd be able to buy another handicap van if it should be stolen or totaled.

You made a big mistake saying you use the vehicle for work. You don't really need that rating because you are not hauling goods or tools. I assume it's not being driven by employees. And, unless you are driving to customer's locations to do software engineering, you are not technically driving for your job - just driving to work like everyone else. Using a laptop while parked would not qualify as using the vehicle for work. However, if the vehicle is registered to a business and you are writing off, I'm sure they would required you to have have commercial insurance.

I would just insure as a personal vehicle if possible (many people aren't that lucky) and eat the cost of your conversion if it gets totaled. Maybe see if you can get extra coverage for electronic equipment like your solar, batteries, inverter, etc. That's a good chunk of your conversion cost if it's a DIY.
 

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When I lived in Lancaster PA and used Donnegal insurance. I think they write for all of PA. RDinNHandAZ recommended to get a custom policy based off the value. I told them what I wanted the van insured for (value) and they wrote the policy as such. I told them it was a custom camper van and it wasn't a problem. I wasn't paying anywhere near 3k!
 
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Here are some thoughts that might help:
Don’t volunteer that you built it. DIY and home builds are a red flag for the insurer. If asked, answer truthfully. If asked the make list RAM. That's the truth. If you start calling around and begin your ask with the words: “I’m doing a home built camper van and want RV insurance” it ain’t gonna happen.
Don’t get hung up on having the van done when you insure it as an RV. Park it for a few weeks until you can get the basics in. That way, short of a theft or fire you won’t have a claim before it is a camper.
You don’t want to confuse the issue with talk about using it as your office or for work part time. Many people I know use their RV incidentally for their work. They are photographers, writers, a product designer, several carpenters (I have lived in mine on jobs) etc. No one has more than incidental use and none expect the RV insurance to cover specialized equipment like cameras. If you begin your ask with: “I plan to do office work in it for my livelihood” you ain’t getting RV insurance and shouldn’t.
If you are making a Class B qualified camper and plan to use it as an RV (usually rated for the number of days use a year (mine is for 280 I believe) and do quality work so it doesn’t present additional risk it can be insured (no inside unvented Propane for instance.)
BTW I stopped a progressive adjuster (in a white ford explorer!) and asked him to look in my van and tell me if there was any reason he could see that would prevent him from being able to adjust a loss. I had camper windows, fan vent, and the bed and cabinets in so it was “done.” He said it would not be a problem, he had done many similar ones. No question about homebuilt or my record keeping. I know his observations don’t guarantee much but he had no caution for me concerning it. My campervan looks like a home built as I did not try to cover all the interior surfaces with that faux whiteboard and other crap.
Good luck
 

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Im about to go through the same nightmare in PA next month when I finally buy my van. Correct me if im wrong, but I believe in PA that the cargo van has no choice but to be registered as a commercial vehicle which means commercial insurance is the only option.

Once my van is done months from now I will likely just go the route noted above. Which is to just get the policy online and say its a class b van. Its a risk. But a commercial policy is a risk too. Could very well pay 3k a year then them not cover you because its a camper van.

My concern is the insurance for the months from purchase to the finished van. Its crazy that typical personal insurance doesnt seem to be a option in PA.
 

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How is it Registered?

Full disclosure: I spent 19 years as a licensed PA Insurance Broker, then several years in the automotive business, which included taking the PennDot licensing and titling class, as well as PA State Inspection licenses.

My first question is: How is it registered? If it's a converted camper, it should be titled and plated with an HH motorhome plate. You CANNOT insure a motorhome in Pennsylvania without a policy written for motorhomes. this is due to unique risks not associated with a regular van, even with commercial coverage. Your premium will vary by the value stated, limits of liability, stacking on non-stacking with regard to Tort (your ability to sue).

I will point out that you NEVER want to withhold information regarding what you are insuring. You risk being cancelled because you either exposed the insurer to coverage they were not permitted to write in a particular state, or you purposefully misstated a material fact knowing such. These may not be found out until claim time, and then denial of claim is a very real possibility. Insurance fraud could also be claimed.

Several years ago I owned a Class C Jayco, and I insured it with AIG. I no longer have any documents to check but it was very affordable as I recall.

If your van has windows you should currently have a passenger plate. If you bought it without the necessary windows on the sides and back, then it has a truck plate, and you also should have a Class Designation sticker along with your inspection sticker(s). In either case, it will need to to re-titled as a motorhome. In order to change the title and receive the HH motorhome plate, it will need an Enhanced Inspection, performed only at an Inspection Station that has passed the necessary test to do so. If you need more on this, let me know; I have an Enhanced Inspector's License and can walk you through it and help you find an inspection station that can do this.

Pennsylvania is not the only state that requires this. Many states have now put some form of Enhanced Inspection in place. Enhanced inspection includes, Rebuildable titles, Flood damage vehicles, Powertrain enhancements such as gas, diesel or LNG conversions, Street Rods and Homebuilt campers and trailers. Heavy trucks being changed to a different weight class also fall into this area.

Hope that helps.

Marc
 

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I had a similar problem with Geico in Nevada. Geico said you have to insure as commercial. Same with another insurance company. (can't recall the name) There is a good video on Youtube about insuring your self build. They used State Farm. So I thought let me try State Farm. I was able to get the Promaster insured with State Farm no problem.

 

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Haha, I've been wondering if others had this problem. When we bought our empty cargo van we insured it with X (name withheld because I still have insurance with them). They said, at the time, no problem, just tell us when it's converted, and we'll deal with it then. I don't remember exactly, but it was well under $1,000 for a year. So, 6 months later when it was converted, they said, "Well, we don't know about that brand, but just tell us what's in it." So we gave them a list of bed, sink, toilet, A/C, etc., and they said fine, and sent us a bill for a little more. And we were happy. Then, a year later, I get a certified letter saying my insurance on that vehicle would be cancelled at the end of the year, no reason stated. Since my state, like most, has strict rules (with hefty fines) about being uninsured , I was a bit upset. So my wife called them and they said, "Our underwriters say we can't cover this kind of vehicle, end of story, goodbye." Protesting that they sold us the insurance and we paid for the insurance for a year in good faith made no difference. There was apparently no wiggle room so we moved on. So we bought a new policy for the converted van (as an RV) from (ironically) Progressive, and things have been fine since.
 

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How is it Registered?

Full disclosure: I spent 19 years as a licensed PA Insurance Broker, then several years in the automotive business, which included taking the PennDot licensing and titling class, as well as PA State Inspection licenses.

My first question is: How is it registered? If it's a converted camper, it should be titled and plated with an HH motorhome plate. You CANNOT insure a motorhome in Pennsylvania without a policy written for motorhomes. this is due to unique risks not associated with a regular van, even with commercial coverage. Your premium will vary by the value stated, limits of liability, stacking on non-stacking with regard to Tort (your ability to sue).

I will point out that you NEVER want to withhold information regarding what you are insuring. You risk being cancelled because you either exposed the insurer to coverage they were not permitted to write in a particular state, or you purposefully misstated a material fact knowing such. These may not be found out until claim time, and then denial of claim is a very real possibility. Insurance fraud could also be claimed.

Several years ago I owned a Class C Jayco, and I insured it with AIG. I no longer have any documents to check but it was very affordable as I recall.

If your van has windows you should currently have a passenger plate. If you bought it without the necessary windows on the sides and back, then it has a truck plate, and you also should have a Class Designation sticker along with your inspection sticker(s). In either case, it will need to to re-titled as a motorhome. In order to change the title and receive the HH motorhome plate, it will need an Enhanced Inspection, performed only at an Inspection Station that has passed the necessary test to do so. If you need more on this, let me know; I have an Enhanced Inspector's License and can walk you through it and help you find an inspection station that can do this.

Pennsylvania is not the only state that requires this. Many states have now put some form of Enhanced Inspection in place. Enhanced inspection includes, Rebuildable titles, Flood damage vehicles, Powertrain enhancements such as gas, diesel or LNG conversions, Street Rods and Homebuilt campers and trailers. Heavy trucks being changed to a different weight class also fall into this area.

Hope that helps.

Marc
Hi Marc,
Thanks for all that information! I live in PA and I'm just stepping into the insurance nightmare. I just ordered my van. It's a 2021 Promaster 1500 136 WB high top, with a window in the side door and in the back doors. I believe it's titled for commercial use (I will be using it for a few business trips / year). I should get it in Dec, then I'll be converting it for 6 months. Obviously when I buy it I'll need insurance, even If I won't be driving it home from the dealer and a trip or two to Home Depot. I would like the fact that it's a second vehicle, and one not driven very often, to lower my rates. I'm putting a bed, shower, sink, solar panels with lithium batteries.

My questions: 1. What kind of insurance should I be looking for for the first 6 months? 2. Are there things I should consider in the conversion to make it pass the enhanced inspection?

Thanks so much!
Lola
 

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I'm currently a PA resident and have State Farm. I didn't do a full conversion with a shower/bath, but I told them what I was doing and they told me no problem. I had to keep the reciepts to prove what was done to estimate value in case of an accident.
If it was broken into, it would go against my home owners policy.
It is my daily driver, with multiple policies, and I pay about $65/mo for a 2017 1500 HT, and it's registered as a personal vehicle.
 
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