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Old 02-21-2020, 07:42 AM   #1
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Permanent “Partial Conversion” Insurance

Hi All,

First post. Did my research using the handy search function but I still could not find concrete answers to my question(s).

I’ve purchased a 2007 21 Passenger MidBus built on a Chevy Express 3500 chassis with the Duramax engine from Massachusetts already titled as a “Autohome”. I live in Rhode Island. The bus is NOT converted and still has all the seats in it. It does have the markings and stop signs removed.

I am not looking to convert this to a glorious mini home-away-from-home as seen on Pinterest and Instagram. This will be a work horse to haul 4-6 friends and I and our bicycles to various downhill mountain bike parks in New England for overnight camping trips. I do not want a bathroom, cooking area, etc - just storage, proper seats with proper restraints (replace bus seats with seats taken out from a passenger van such as a transit or express) and “bunks” to set up sleeping pads & sleeping bags.

I read that most people start with “Commercial for personal use” which I, as far as I know, can get from my existing insurance company Progressive on my personal car. Then, they “convert” it, send pictures, and get it insured as an RV / MH at various insurance agencies such as Allstate, National General, etc.

Question 1: Since I am never going to meet the requirements of a Motorhome (no toilet, no kitchen, etc) - and would rather not lie and get my claim refused in the event of an accident - can I just keep Commercial for Personal Use for forever? I know National General offers “during conversion insurance” which piques my interest as well.

Question 2: When doing the “Commercial for personal use” quote online, Progressive asks how many seats there are - the options are “all seats removed”, “16-60” , or “61+”. I plan to remove them all but bolt more comfortable seats in the factory locations to carry my 4-6 passengers - so would I go ahead with “all seats removed”?

Does anyone have experience with this partial conversion use?

Wanted some advice before I went to talk to various brokers in person.

Thanks!
D
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:42 AM   #2
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My build will have a similar use pattern to yours...
(mine will also have a pub/bar built in to the front section -- but the back will be for bikes or kayaks or parts depending on the event we're headed to)

I currently have Progressive "commercial for personal use" and at $187/yr see no need to change it up.

Currently all my seats are removed. Having seating for more than 16 people makes you a commercial vehicle requiring a chauffers endorsement and possibly CDL (depends on the size of the bus).

You'll need to talk to a commercial insurance agent -- it's a different division of Progressive than the "personal auto" insurance you already have -- but start with your local agent if you have one for a good # to call.

Most "U - pull n' pay" junkyards sell seats for $30 to $40 bucks.
I'd look at GM pickup or Suburban seats. Front leather buckets with built in seat belts, heat, etc. With time you should be able to get all matching colors or a fun mix of colors.
* Just be sure the seats are well bolted to the subframe. Use plate washers to spread the load over several sq inches.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:15 PM   #3
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Depending on how the VIN decodes, and the company, if you aren't charging fees or using it in a commercial use, you might be able to get it on a personal auto policy.

Looking at photos of the midbus and the express itself, it's basically a van, albeit larger than a minivan.

Get the VIN and photos and talk to an agent. The important part is to be clear on what you're using it for and that there isn't a commercial use. If you want to charge to take your friends places then you need a commercial auto policy.

Having the place to bed down in the bus leans it more towards the RV than anything else. If I could write in RI I'd be asking the underwriter about doing the policy as an rv-bus under conversion if it's available.
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:11 PM   #4
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Most states you can cheaply & superficially meet the RV req's if you want to, just make certain components stuff removable.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banman View Post
I currently have Progressive "commercial for personal use" and at $187/yr see no need to change it up.
Do you have a Progressive Commercial policy? I have a Progressive Commercial policy and it is a lot more than $187.
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:19 PM   #6
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Do you have a Progressive Commercial policy? I have a Progressive Commercial policy and it is a lot more than $187.
We started with Progressive's commercial policy (commercial vehicle for personal use) and was paying a touch over $1500 per year. We switched the title to MH and got a policy with Allstate for just under $360 per year. Both policies were on the same vehicle with the same limits, both liability-only.
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:10 PM   #7
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Currently all my seats are removed. Having seating for more than 16 people makes you a commercial vehicle requiring a chauffers endorsement and possibly CDL (depends on the size of the bus).

You'll need to talk to a commercial insurance agent -- it's a different division of Progressive than the "personal auto" insurance you already have -- but start with your local agent if you have one for a good # to call.
How do you plan to move forward with legally carrying passengers?

I understand I can get around this with Motorhome insurance such that all “seats” have “seatbelts” such as lap belts (and other do-able hoops to jump through ...) But, since I won’t be going the Motorhome route, I’ll have to specify some range of passengers between 0 and 16 which I seem to not be able to do.

I have spoken with a local AAA agent who agreed in order to be covered I would have to go under commercial auto for personal use, but he just ran the VIN which comes back as a Chevrolet express cutaway, body style “straight truck” (think box truck) which I believe is improper since progressives online quote tool allowed me to specify “bus”.

Just want to get proper insurance for myself and passengers!

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sutphinins View Post
Depending on how the VIN decodes, and the company, if you aren't charging fees or using it in a commercial use, you might be able to get it on a personal auto policy.

Looking at photos of the midbus and the express itself, it's basically a van, albeit larger than a minivan.

Get the VIN and photos and talk to an agent. The important part is to be clear on what you're using it for and that there isn't a commercial use. If you want to charge to take your friends places then you need a commercial auto policy.

Having the place to bed down in the bus leans it more towards the RV than anything else. If I could write in RI I'd be asking the underwriter about doing the policy as an rv-bus under conversion if it's available.
Thanks for the advice!

The VIN seems to decode exactly what the chassis is - a Chevrolet 3500 Cutaway - which is more of an incomplete vehicle. The kicker is that there is a ~16’ x ~8’ box attached to this chassis meant to haul 20 passengers ... which is painted yellow .... and has flashing lights ...

I’d love to take advantage of an insurance broker not asking enough questions and allow me to insure the bus for what it’s not - most threads regarding conversions think about insurance as a “tax to legally drive on the roads” and therefor spoof enough info to get insurance but whether it holds up during a claim is another story...

I’m trying to find a way to do right by the books, for all parties involved - myself, passengers, and insurer. If you could elaborate on which insurance company you write for and are open to insuring vehicles such as mine, please do - id really appreciate it, as I will certainly look into it. All I really know and have experience with is Progressive since I have them for my personal auto and motorcycle.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drocks95 View Post
How do you plan to move forward with legally carrying passengers?

I understand I can get around this with Motorhome insurance such that all “seats” have “seatbelts” such as lap belts (and other do-able hoops to jump through ...) But, since I won’t be going the Motorhome route, I’ll have to specify some range of passengers between 0 and 16 which I seem to not be able to do.

I have spoken with a local AAA agent who agreed in order to be covered I would have to go under commercial auto for personal use, but he just ran the VIN which comes back as a Chevrolet express cutaway, body style “straight truck” (think box truck) which I believe is improper since progressives online quote tool allowed me to specify “bus”.

Just want to get proper insurance for myself and passengers!

Thanks for the reply!
Quote:
Originally Posted by drocks95 View Post
Thanks for the advice!

The VIN seems to decode exactly what the chassis is - a Chevrolet 3500 Cutaway - which is more of an incomplete vehicle. The kicker is that there is a ~16’ x ~8’ box attached to this chassis meant to haul 20 passengers ... which is painted yellow .... and has flashing lights ...

I’d love to take advantage of an insurance broker not asking enough questions and allow me to insure the bus for what it’s not - most threads regarding conversions think about insurance as a “tax to legally drive on the roads” and therefor spoof enough info to get insurance but whether it holds up during a claim is another story...

I’m trying to find a way to do right by the books, for all parties involved - myself, passengers, and insurer. If you could elaborate on which insurance company you write for and are open to insuring vehicles such as mine, please do - id really appreciate it, as I will certainly look into it. All I really know and have experience with is Progressive since I have them for my personal auto and motorcycle.

Thanks again!
Exactly why I said "talk to an agent".
An online calculator will never work for this situation...
You can easily explain to an agent you wanna add seating for 6 to 8 people in your crew-cab-truck with open access to the box-body.

No one thinks twice about tractor-trailer cabs having sleeping compartments and micro-wave & refrigerator units built in...


Business' modify trucks routinely for their specific applications so the modifying of a truck chassis IS NOT THE PROBLEM. But Commercial-business-use-insurance is usually much more expensive...
Maybe that's what covers the numerous chassis changes that can get made over the years...
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:19 PM   #10
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Exactly why I said "talk to an agent".
An online calculator will never work for this situation...
You can easily explain to an agent you wanna add seating for 6 to 8 people in your crew-cab-truck with open access to the box-body.
Understood. I’ve exchanged emails and phone calls with a AAA employee underwriting with progressive commercial ... I’ll visit in person Monday to try and explain my situation & concerns.

I’ve asked myself the same question regarding tractor trailers and other similar vehicles / situations where there is typically one driver - and it occurred to me that since these vehicles typically have a single driver which cant possibly occupy the living space and drivers seat at the same time that there is no gray area between the driver and passengers since when the driver is driving there is no passengers.

Whereas a passenger vehicle it is understood that there is a driver and a maximum number of passengers in the car ... I suppose this is where I start to get confused.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drocks95 View Post
Understood. I’ve exchanged emails and phone calls with a AAA employee underwriting with progressive commercial ... I’ll visit in person Monday to try and explain my situation & concerns.

I’ve asked myself the same question regarding tractor trailers and other similar vehicles / situations where there is typically one driver - and it occurred to me that since these vehicles typically have a single driver which cant possibly occupy the living space and drivers seat at the same time that there is no gray area between the driver and passengers since when the driver is driving there is no passengers.

Whereas a passenger vehicle it is understood that there is a driver and a maximum number of passengers in the car ... I suppose this is where I start to get confused.
Plenty of four-door crew-cab medium duty trucks out there...

Almost all tractor-trailer cabs have seating for 2 or 3 and two doors...
There are plenty of couples who work/travel together...

There are trucks with two drivers so one sleeps while the other drives if the timing is that important, or just the desire to keep the valuable asset (the truck) in motion...

But I digress...

I do look forward to hearing what your AAA rep has to say about Progressive.

I think one big difference between our vehicles is mine is a full size bus on a medium duty truck chassis while yours is one-ton van chassis.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:52 PM   #12
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Plenty of four-door crew-cab medium duty trucks out there...

Almost all tractor-trailer cabs have seating for 2 or 3 and two doors...
There are plenty of couples who work/travel together...

There are trucks with two drivers so one sleeps while the other drives if the timing is that important, or just the desire to keep the valuable asset (the truck) in motion...

But I digress...

I do look forward to hearing what your AAA rep has to say about Progressive.

I think one big difference between our vehicles is mine is a full size bus on a medium duty truck chassis while yours is one-ton van chassis.
Gotcha. Yeah, I’ll definitely talk in person and report back. I will probably see an independent progressive agent over the AAA agent. I was just posting to see if I could get some “in practice” advice rather than “in theory” so I can be more prepared during my in-person conversation.

Yup, lots of my buddies who are tradesmen drive commercial vehicles... it’s the main reason I ended up with the duramax! Point taken ... I’ll see what they say about reducing the number of passengers. Again, I’m not asking if I can get insurance - I’m seeing if people had advice and / or experience getting it the right way.

Maybe I should just get minimum insurance regarding my midbus and some hefty umbrella insurance to cover the rest
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by drocks95 View Post
Thanks for the advice!

The VIN seems to decode exactly what the chassis is - a Chevrolet 3500 Cutaway - which is more of an incomplete vehicle. The kicker is that there is a ~16’ x ~8’ box attached to this chassis meant to haul 20 passengers ... which is painted yellow .... and has flashing lights ...

I’d love to take advantage of an insurance broker not asking enough questions and allow me to insure the bus for what it’s not - most threads regarding conversions think about insurance as a “tax to legally drive on the roads” and therefor spoof enough info to get insurance but whether it holds up during a claim is another story...

I’m trying to find a way to do right by the books, for all parties involved - myself, passengers, and insurer. If you could elaborate on which insurance company you write for and are open to insuring vehicles such as mine, please do - id really appreciate it, as I will certainly look into it. All I really know and have experience with is Progressive since I have them for my personal auto and motorcycle.

Thanks again!

I'm an independent agent, so we write with, all lines except life/health considered, 25 or so companies. The agency is set up to write with some of them in other states, but VA is our residence/primary state.

For Bus RVs I can write them in VA with National General. I keep asking them to let me write in other states.

There should be a version of trustedchoice.com if they don't have your state listed to connect you to an independent agent.

Personal auto policies have weight/size restrictions on what they can insure, which is why buses and some cutaway vehicles are not eligible. Tractors for tractor-trailer setups are, as far as I'm aware, only insured on a commercial policy, due to their size/weight.

Truck-tractors are too big/heavy to be on a personal policy as far as I'm aware. I have seen them as unlicensed farm vehicles on a farm policy, but that has a severe limitation on how far you can go in it and what you get for coverage.

VA has been tightening up on farm use vehicles/tags. I live on a farm, but I have no farm use so I couldn't get a small pickup and stick farm use tags from Tractor Supply on it to use to go to the dump. I might never get stopped or asked about if I did it, but it's not worth the risk/headache/hassle/money if I do get stopped. So I'm looking at getting a hitch on my Outback and a small trailer for dump runs or to pick up larger things.
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Old 02-25-2020, 06:44 PM   #14
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Update 2/25/20

Progressive:
Progressive auto for personal use is a no-go. Spoke with an agent through the phone about my completed quote. Since the bus will be slept in overnight, it classifies as a “converted school bus” even though some seats in factory locations will be left... there is no electricity or running water .... or a bathroom.... Bummer.

National General:
I spoke with two agents through the phone. They do not offer insurance for in-progress conversions in the state of Rhode Island - only completed conversions. The three required items to be considered a completed conversion are 1) school bus needs to be gutted aka no seats remaining, 2) there needs to be a bedding area, 3) there needs to be running water. I could for sure add a half assed bedding area (74”x30” wooden bunks, glamorous) and running water (foot pump from full 5gal to empty 5gal in a stainless steel dish with a drain hole cut into the bottom) but I am unclear why it needed to be gutted - they explained so it does not carry passengers to which I inquired “what about a family of five in an RV” to which he replied “it’s ok to carry some passengers” yet I won’t be able to have any seats if it’s gutted therefore no passengers... I digress ...

Update 2/25/20 part 2

Liberty Mutual:
Big, phat “No” through the phone even after the agent “looked into it”.

Local agents who work with a variety of companies are up next!
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:09 PM   #15
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You should call Kelly Newsome. If you search that name here you'll find her number. She works in Florida for Allstate, but she'll get all your information and then call an agent in your state and walk them through the process.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:54 PM   #16
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You should call Kelly Newsome. If you search that name here you'll find her number. She works in Florida for Allstate, but she'll get all your information and then call an agent in your state and walk them through the process.
Kelly Newsome 352-326-9300 KellyNewsome1@allstate.com
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