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Old 09-30-2020, 10:03 PM   #1
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Conversion Conundrum

We have just started our bus build. Right now our insurance coverage is 'commercial personal' but I would like to eventually have an RV policy. Today I got a letter back from my agent in response to my inquiry about that.

He stated that I could have an RV policy underwritten if my bus was done by a RV conversion specialist but not if we did it ourselves.

My family is full of tradesmen that include a licensed master electrician with a focus in design engineering (110 and solar), a retired plumber (propane and water), a contractor with 20 years of residential construction supervision experience and a cabinet maker that has owned his own shop for 40 years. Three of the four have licenses in my state.

Can someone please clarify what an "RV conversion specialist" is exactly and what professional organization oversees them?

I'm not sure if this is a real thing or if the guy is pulling my chain. He wrote my farm policy, with all it's complexities, so I was thinking this was going to be easy peasy...

TIA
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Old 09-30-2020, 11:17 PM   #2
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Sounds like they want the liability from a place that builds RVs and can sign off on it. I don't know if you are in the US or Canada but in the US, you can get insured by National General insurance (Good Sam) as an RV once the seats are out. The liability will be very low but they will raise it once you provide finished photos of your conversion. Incidentally, My insurance agent wouldn't touch the bus either way. They just don't want to go out of the norm it seems.
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Old 10-01-2020, 02:43 AM   #3
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For those in the states, call Kelly Newsome (KellyNewsome1@Allstate.com) with Allstate @ 352-326-9300. She knows and fully understands the skoolie community. If she can not write the policy, she has a network of agents that should be able to help you out. She is also a nice person to talk with.
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Old 10-01-2020, 06:03 AM   #4
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Are you in Pennsylvania by any chance? A skoolie in PA is considered a "modified vehicle" and registering it in the state as a motorhome requires a special inspection by PennDOT and a form signed by the conversion specialist that did the work. When I was initially calling around for insurance, more than one agent mentioned this requirement as also being necessary to get RV insurance in the state.

Fortunately there is Allstate, as Native mentioned. They did not require that any RV conversion specialist be involved, and in fact they're fine with my bus being registered in Vermont despite my being a PA resident.

Long story short: if your agent/company won't give you insurance, get a new agent/company.
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Old 10-01-2020, 06:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Native View Post
For those in the states, call Kelly Newsome (KellyNewsome1@Allstate.com) with Allstate @ 352-326-9300. She knows and fully understands the skoolie community. If she can not write the policy, she has a network of agents that should be able to help you out. She is also a nice person to talk with.
I second this recommendation. I sent her an email and within the hour she contacted me, and shortly thereafter she had an agent in my state give me a quote for insurance. She was great and made it completely hassle free.
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Old 10-01-2020, 07:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Are you in Pennsylvania by any chance? A skoolie in PA is considered a "modified vehicle" and registering it in the state as a motorhome requires a special inspection by PennDOT and a form signed by the conversion specialist that did the work. When I was initially calling around for insurance, more than one agent mentioned this requirement as also being necessary to get RV insurance in the state.

Fortunately there is Allstate, as Native mentioned. They did not require that any RV conversion specialist be involved, and in fact they're fine with my bus being registered in Vermont despite my being a PA resident.

Long story short: if your agent/company won't give you insurance, get a new agent/company.
I'm in PA and got insured through Good Sam. They got me a liability policy through Progressive as "Commercial Personal Use Only" so that I could drive the bus back from out of state. Once the seats are out and its inspected, I can switch over the policy to an RV policy through National General via Good Sam.

Additionally, I did not have to go through the enhanced inspection. Registered as an RV with an MV-41 only. I had to go to a couple titling places before I found someone to work with me.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by RamRod4 View Post
I'm in PA and got insured through Good Sam. They got me a liability policy through Progressive as "Commercial Personal Use Only" so that I could drive the bus back from out of state. Once the seats are out and its inspected, I can switch over the policy to an RV policy through National General via Good Sam.

Additionally, I did not have to go through the enhanced inspection. Registered as an RV with an MV-41 only. I had to go to a couple titling places before I found someone to work with me.
I've written about this a number of times. You don't even need a title place involved, you can just change your title from bus to rv with a mail-in MV-41. Regardless of whether or not a skoolie counts in PA as a "modified vehicle" (and requires the enhanced inspection and extra paperwork), there appears to be nothing in the PennDOT system that automatically flags any title change request as requiring form MV-426B.

My local title place has taken three skoolie builders through the process of registering their skoolies as RVs, and their process included the special inspection and modified vehicle form. Since PennDOT accepted these, that means they do consider a skoolie to be a modified vehicle. I asked the title person about this, and she said that compliance with MV-426B is essentially voluntary as far as getting the actual tags (in other words they have no way of knowing if a vehicle has been modified or not), but that problems could arise in the future because of an accident or a traffic citation.

I'm perfectly happy with my Vermont registration but I am curious to know what the true situation as far as PA is concerned. I know of nobody who has actually contacted PennDOT and gotten written confirmation that MV-426B is not required for a bus to be retitled or registered as an RV. I haven't done it myself because I don't want to possibly call their attention to the issue.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I've written about this a number of times. You don't even need a title place involved, you can just change your title from bus to rv with a mail-in MV-41. Regardless of whether or not a skoolie counts in PA as a "modified vehicle" (and requires the enhanced inspection and extra paperwork), there appears to be nothing in the PennDOT system that automatically flags any title change request as requiring form MV-426B.

My local title place has taken three skoolie builders through the process of registering their skoolies as RVs, and their process included the special inspection and modified vehicle form. Since PennDOT accepted these, that means they do consider a skoolie to be a modified vehicle. I asked the title person about this, and she said that compliance with MV-426B is essentially voluntary as far as getting the actual tags (in other words they have no way of knowing if a vehicle has been modified or not), but that problems could arise in the future because of an accident or a traffic citation.

I'm perfectly happy with my Vermont registration but I am curious to know what the true situation as far as PA is concerned. I know of nobody who has actually contacted PennDOT and gotten written confirmation that MV-426B is not required for a bus to be retitled or registered as an RV. I haven't done it myself because I don't want to possibly call their attention to the issue.
I went back and checked the thread I had initially read and you were in fact the poster. I greatly appreciate the advice and that is why I went the route I did with the MV41. I pushed it through a title place so they could use the automated system and keep any manual PennDOT transaction out of it in fear of being flagged. We got it to pass through the automated system and i was issued a registration card and motorhome plate on the spot.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:23 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by RamRod4 View Post
I went back and checked the thread I had initially read and you were in fact the poster. I greatly appreciate the advice and that is why I went the route I did with the MV41. I pushed it through a title place so they could use the automated system and keep any manual PennDOT transaction out of it in fear of being flagged. We got it to pass through the automated system and i was issued a registration card and motorhome plate on the spot.

Thanks again!
Man, this is killing me. Every time this comes up I get overwhelmed with the urge to call PennDOT and ask about it. I have this fear that it would be followed days later by a bunch of posts from PA skooliers about how their titles just got revoked. I don't need that kind of karma.

I did make one call to PennDOT before I went the VT route, and I was told in no uncertain terms by the person I talked to (and by their supervisor who was called over) that any vehicle titled as a "BUS" had to remain a bus forever - that there was no way to ever change it to anything else. So perhaps the strategy of counting on PennDOT to never figure out what is actually going on is a valid one.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:32 AM   #10
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http://www.dot.state.pa.us/Public/DV...ed_Vehicle.pdf

Quote:
Some examples of vehicle modifications which would require a Modified Vehicle Title include but are not limited to:
- Changing fuel type (e.g., gasoline to diesel)
- Addition or removal of an axle
- Replacing the engine (e.g., replacing the stock engine with an engine that was not available as original equipment on the vehicle)
- Changing a standard truck bed to a flat bed or dump bed
- Changing the vehicle body type (e.g. bus to truck)
I think that last one is what PennDOT would consider relevant in the case of a skoolie. Also amusing in light of the PennDOT employee telling me there's no way to change a bus to anything else.
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Old 10-01-2020, 09:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Man, this is killing me. Every time this comes up I get overwhelmed with the urge to call PennDOT and ask about it. I have this fear that it would be followed days later by a bunch of posts from PA skooliers about how their titles just got revoked. I don't need that kind of karma.

I did make one call to PennDOT before I went the VT route, and I was told in no uncertain terms by the person I talked to (and by their supervisor who was called over) that any vehicle titled as a "BUS" had to remain a bus forever - that there was no way to ever change it to anything else. So perhaps the strategy of counting on PennDOT to never figure out what is actually going on is a valid one.
The titling place told me that the automated system is 3rd party and anything that it accepts, PennDOT accepts so as not to double handle information/data entries. Which, as assumed, is the whole point that PennDOT uses a 3rd party, so they can be hands off in the process. He said its possible that someone could flag it but at the minimum my registration is good for a year and that gives me time to convert it and have the necessary equipment to have an MV426 done. He said the chance of that happening is likely extremely small since there likely isn't a human reviewing any/all apps going through the automated system.
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