How to Get Insurance for a Camper Van
Register Your Camper Van as an RV
The first step in obtaining insurance for your Sprinter camper van may be a trip to the DMV. Since your Sprinter was originally a cargo van, it is probably registered as a typical passenger vehicle. If you want an insurance policy that covers both the van itself and the build inside, the easiest way to go about this is usually to first register the converted camper van as an RV, then obtain RV insurance.
Laws and procedures to register your van as an RV vary from state to state. In California, you’ll need to fill out a couple forms, take a trip to the DMV, and have the van visually inspected by a DMV staff member to confirm that it meets the state’s requirements to be considered an RV. Usually, this means it must have a place to sleep, a place to cook, and some sort of bathroom (even a portable toilet or an outdoor shower should work.) Really, the inspection is just a way for the state to have a staff member visually confirm that the vehicle is, in fact, built for camping and living, before they register it as an RV.
Personal, Renter and Commercial Insurance
Will you and your family be the only ones using your Sprinter camper van, or will you be renting it out on a rental site like Outdoorsy.com to generate income? The answer to that question will determine what type of coverage you need. Beware – many RV insurers will drop your policy altogether if you rent out your motorhome or camper. If you plan to rent your van at all, Roamly is one insurance company worth checking out, since it offers insurance for both the weekend warrior (defined as someone who uses their own van regularly, but doesn’t live in it for more than 6 months of the year) and those who plan to use their own van AND also rent their vans out to the public. (And if you happen to have a fleet of rental vans and rent out three or more vans regularly, they also offer an attractive commercial policy.)
Consider a Professional Camper Van Conversion
Are you still debating between a professional Sprinter van conversion company or a DIY build? Insurance may be the factor that tips the scales for you. Why? It is WAY more difficult to adequately insure a DIY camper van build than it is to insure a professionally built Sprinter from a certified camper van conversion company.
There are two reasons why this is the case. First, when you reach out to insurance companies to get quotes, they’ll want to be able to verify the value of your camper van. If you build the van yourself, the best you can do is to offer them receipts for the parts and materials. Since you’re not a professional camper van converter, your labor (likely hundreds of hours) can’t be easily valued and the insurance company may not want to insure the van for what you feel it is worth.
The second reason is related to liability. Camper vans have several potentially hazardous systems, including onboard propane and electric, not to mention cabinetry that must remain secure as you drive. Insurers may be reluctant to offer you a policy for a DIY conversion, simply because they can’t verify that the build is safe to use. They don’t want to be responsible if something goes wrong because of an error by the builders.
If you have your camper van converted by a professional builder, you can avoid these setbacks with insurance. It is simple to show the insurer how much the build-out is worth, including both materials and labor. Furthermore, builders follow strict protocols when it comes to safety, and this helps insurance companies feel more secure in offering you a policy that covers both the van and the conversion.
Other Camper Van Insurance Tips and Tricks
- Check for deals. If you’re worried about the cost of insurance for your camper van, you might be pleasantly surprised. Since you’ll be insuring your van as an RV, this implies that you don’t drive the vehicle daily as a commuter. The less you drive the van, the cheaper insurance for it will be. If you have another car that you use to commute to work and drive around town, you might even be able to bundle your RV and car insurance to get more savings.
- Consider personal articles insurance. Personal articles insurance is a good way to make sure that all your valuables inside your van are insured, in addition to the van and build itself. This type of insurance is generally quite affordable and usually comes with no deductibles. You can use it to replace damaged or stolen items like clothes, cameras, computers, and even phones. This can give you some extra peace of mind while you’re traveling with valuables in your van.
- Ask your builder about insurance options. If you aren’t sure who to talk to about getting your newly converted Sprinter van insured, the camper van conversion company who built it out is usually a good place to start! Camper van conversion companies like Muse & Co. Outdoors often have insider knowledge about the insurers their customers usually use, and the local laws and regulations that pertain to obtaining insurance for your van.
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