Food for thoughtTrip Journal

The Muddy Waters of Trailer Insurance

By July 7, 2018 No Comments

We haven’t been able to leave Berkeley yet, solely because we don’t have our trailer insured yet. Since we’ve run into significantly more trouble than we imagined trying to get our trailer insured, I figured I’d write down what we’ve learned so other people might avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

The details: We now have a converted cargo trailer. The trailer is a 2002 Pace American cargo trailer  (14-feet total in length, including the nose, and 8-feet wide). Although it was already converted into a livable space before we bought it, we completely gutted it to fit our needs. What’s the problem, you ask?

Little Dude does not get what the problem is.

AAA: we went to AAA first because we’ve been with them for years. Since we had an itemized spreadsheet of everything we bought for the trailer – they said they could insure it, if it was stationary at our home address for over half the year. Well, that’s not going to happen. Next…

Progressive: they are the #1 major RV insurance company, but a converted cargo trailer is a dealbreaker for them. At this point we asked — who should we call next?!

Farmer’s Insurance: a quick no – because it’s a converted cargo trailer.

The problem, it turns out, is these major companies will happily insure a travel trailer that you have customized – but it has to have started as a travel trailer. The fact that our trailer was a cargo/utility trailer in a previous life does not jive with their policies.

At this point, we’re stumped. Spenser asks the Farmer’s agent,

So do you recommend we just roll the dice and leave without getting this insured? Do we have any other options?

Farmer’s recommended us to get in touch with a local independent insurance broker. They have more leeway, they said.

Groundhog day, anyone?

It’s been 2 weeks of insurance hunting at this point and we’re frustrated, but holding out hope for this new option. We find an independent insurance broker on Yelp. Spenser explains our urgency to get outta town, and the broker seems to have complete faith he can get us insured in just a few days.

The next morning, we get a call from Brian the Broker,

I can’t find anyone who will insure you…

Unless you happen to be an LLC?

Spenser replies in the affirmative, and Brian goes back to work. We go back to being hopeful.

The next morning, we get an email from Brian the Broker — things are not looking good, and he won’t be able to have any more information for us until July 13th (this email is sent on June 29th).

Spenser is at his wits end – he has been dealing with insurance for the past 2 weeks, and now it looks like we’ve reached a dead end. Spenser excuses himself to go on a long meditative bike ride, and I get on the phone.

I call Geico. I’ve recently learned they are insurance brokers, and not an actual insurance firm, and they also have people they call “RV experts” so I figured I’d start there.

An hour later, after getting passed around to a few poeple, and working my way up to a supervisor,

We have no underwriters¹ who will insure you.

Why? Because it’s a converted cargo trailer. They’ll insure a cargo/utility trailer. They’ll insure a travel trailer that has been modified in any way imaginable, but they will not insure a cargo trailer that has been converted for people to live in. The Geico rep recommends we call an independent insurance broker.

Back to square one. Back to Google. There had to be someone else in the world wide web that was in a similar position to us.

The bottom line was, not really. I found great forums on converting cargo trailers – but the insurance aspect always lead to a dead end, probably because most seem to not insure their converted cargo trailers at all.

I resort to calling any insurance company that came up after I searched, ‘converted cargo trailer insurance.’

Finally, I spoke to Teresa at I-Have-No-Recollection Insurance,

We don’t insure things like that, but MBA Insurance does.

Sure, that us sound like we’re trying to insure a converted cargo trailer for space travel, but it was the first time I heard something other than “no” in hours!! I immediately call MBA Insurance. Sure enough, they would insure us — but they do not insure anything over 15 years old – that’s 2003. Our trailer is 2002.

It hurts.

However, Kristy did have a recommendation: Prime Insurance

I call Prime, the nice receptionist Martha tells me no one is available to take my call. I wait 10 minutes, I call back.³

Jimmy’s available. I tell him everything. You better believe I’ve got it dialed by this point.

Oh yea, we’ll insure that.

I was just trying to find a fireworks gif to express my excitement, but this was too good not to include. Hope this guy’s dick is ok. Or maybe not, better he doesn’t procreate.

At this point it is Friday, June 29th at 3pm Pacific Time here in California, making it 4pm Mountain Time in Utah where Jimmy is. He’s confident he can have us insured on Monday.

The rest of the story is unfortunate drudgery. It’s 4th of July week so they’re working with a skeleton crew, Jimmy explains on Monday. We call Jimmy on Tuesday, but he hasn’t been able to get an underwriter to look at our application. Wednesday is 4th of July. Thursday we hear nothing in the morning. Finally, Jimmy answers his cell phone. He’s in Yellowstone. He tells us to call his best friend and co-worker Carlos. Spenser advises to not get eaten by a buffalo or a bear.

Carlos can’t find our application in their system, so I forward him the one I had sent Jimmy. Seems like his best-friend Jimmy never did send it to an underwriter.4

Carlos says he’ll have a quote for us by the next day (Friday) or Monday. At this point, Spenser and I were done living in one-more-day limbo. Since we were supposed to be in Wyoming weeks ago, we had a flight back for a family function on July 12th. It’s July 5th at this point, so it makes little sense to drive to Wyoming just to fly right back — so we’ve decided to push back our departure to a firm July 13th.5

Theoretically, we realize we could still get declined for coverage by Prime since we lack confidence in best-friend Jimmy. Our back up plan is to insure the trailer as a production vehicle. This will be a significantly more expensive option — we haven’t looked into this thoroughly yet but know it would be around $5,000 – $10,000 per year. I will write another post if this is the route we are forced to go.

Final conclusion for full-time trailer dwellers: we will insure everything separately. The truck will be insured via AAA, the trailer via Prime, and all our production gear is covered by an entertainment insurance provider.

I just loved that one of the stock photos on the Prime Insurance website was a rock climber


¹ An underwriter is a person or company that agrees to pay for a certain kind of loss or damage by offering an insurance policy.

² Full disclosure for those actually seeking insurance – after calling Prime, we were routed and are now working with Evolution Insurance Brokers. The two are affiliated.

³ This is to explain how the insurance hunting process took weeks.

4 Seriously. What. The. Shit.

5 To whoever controls the kindness of underwriters, I’m begging you.

Leave a Reply