Accidents happen, right? Finding the right insurance for your car is tricky enough at times, but getting it for our vans was even more confusing. A normal cargo van is easy enough to cover under a typical auto policy, but what about your build modifications, belongings, and additional coverage for the labor you’ve put into it? Everyone’s situation is different, but we thought it’d be helpful to offer some general aspects about insurance you should consider, as well as what we ultimately chose in the end. Keep in mind we are not insurance brokers, so take our advice as personal experience and refer to a good website such as Allstate which will give you more information.

Some aspects of Auto Insurance to consider:

  • Liability Coverage: Auto liability insurance is a type of car insurance coverage that’s required by law in most states. If you cause an accident, liability coverage helps pay for the other person’s expenses. There are two types of auto liability coverage that drivers in each state must have: bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.
  • Collision Coverage:  Coverage that helps pay to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged in an accident with another vehicle or object, such as a fence or a tree. If you’re leasing or financing your car, collision coverage is typically required by the lender. If your car is paid off, collision is an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Helps pay to replace or repair your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged in an incident that’s not a collision. Comprehensive typically covers damage from fire, vandalism or falling objects (like a tree or hail). If you’re financing or leasing your car, your lender likely requires comprehensive coverage. If you own your vehicle outright, it’s an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.
  • Medical Expenses Coverage: May help pay your or your passengers’ medical expenses if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage is optional and not available in all states.
  • No-fault Insurance: Is a type of car insurance coverage that helps pay for your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage is also known as personal injury protection, or PIP insurance.

My experience:

In my situation, I already had Geico for my car, so it was easy enough to add a second policy when I bought the van. I kept the lowest coverage possible while I worked on the van. I would occasionally drive it to get supplies, so it made sense to have the legal amount of coverage.

The biggest stress came about when I heard how making any modifications to your vehicle had to be reported to your provider. So I started by calling a separate provider, Progressive, so that I could verify this information without getting cut from Geico. I was 100% honest about living in the van and the modifications I had performed. Progressive verified some interesting information:

  • If you modify the interior or exterior of your vehicle, those changes need to be reported or when you get in an accident, your policy is null and void. WOAH!
  • If you build out things such as a kitchen, bed, desk, etc, they would need to consider this a Motorhome.
  • If you want Motorhome coverage, you need a residential address (#VanLife) or have a primary vehicle so the van/motorhome is your secondary vehicle.

All of that information was disheartening as I figured I’d just lose my coverage. I called a few places before I gave up:

I was honest with both companies about living in the van and the modifications I’ve done and they told me they couldn’t write a policy for me.

Dark times ensued, but I was referred to an old co-worker’s contact who is an Allstate agent and I told him my situation. For whatever reason, they had no issues with insuring my van as a motorhome without any of prior pre-requisites I was informed I needed through Progressive. What a relief.

They gave me an initial quote that was half of my current Geico policy, to which I questioned thoroughly. The only thing that raised my rate higher than the initial quote was my average mileage. Apparently it is common that most motorhomes are considered to only be taken out a few times a year, which sounds pretty lame! With all that said, the details of my coverage are as follows. Of course this price could depend on your driving history, personal credit, etc. So don’t take these values as final numbers, but rather a guide to go by.

Give our VanLife-saver, Ryan Hartwigsen, a call and hopefully he can help you out like he helped us.