Recreational vehicles can be expensive, and for many family members they can be large and clunky. Maybe the idea of pulling a camper around isn’t to your fancy either. What’s the next option? Some households and avid travelers opt for converting school buses into RVs. In fact, full-time travel in converted school buses has become something of a trendy lifestyle. For those of us who travel a lot, whether full-time or every other weekend, our social media fees have become occupied with images of families and individuals who are living the “free life” on the road in their converted buses.
Of course, there are some implications – insurance and regulation-wise – that come with converting buses into RVs. It is possible to convert a bus into an RV, but here’s what you need to know first.
Street-Legal Skoolies in the Province of Ontario
By definition, a skoolie is a school bus that has been retired from its regular rounds at a school district, gutted, and then upcycled and refined to better resemble a temporary or permanent residence. They may contain any four of the following list:
- Refrigerator system
- Air conditioning
- Independent gas and electrical supply
- Kitchenette or other cookie facilities
- Portable water supply system
- Self-contained toilet and plumbing
In addition, converting a vehicle from its original commercial classification to a recreational vehicle requires you to present the following information to ServiceOntario before it can be registered as ‘street-legal.’
- A written declaration, stating the full description of the vehicle and its VIN, description of changes and refining, and any changes made to the vehicle in order for it to meet the criteria of its new recreational vehicle classification.
- Proof of purchase, i.e., a bill of sale or some other receipt.
- Proof of insurance – because a skoolie is self-propelled, it is mandated by the province of Ontario that it carry insurance.
- Permit of ownership or vehicle permit – an “Application for Vehicle Transfer” may be located on the backside of the vehicle permit, which must be filled out by the new owner.
- Safety Standards Certificate
Note that, in Ontario, there are also requirements surrounding a vehicle’s legal gross weight on the highway. Gross weight will include the weight of the empty vehicle, and the maximum legal gross weight is the empty vehicle plus the maximum load that can be put into the vehicle, including any passengers, supplies, belongings, etc. If a gross weight is exceeded, the vehicle may not be as easily handled nor be able to stop as well as it should.
Also note that there are numerous different types of school buses in Ontario. There are:
- Type A buses, which may range between a maximum weight of 4500kg to 6350kg and may carry around 10 or so people.
- Type B, which is longer than A and can carry upwards of 10 people. They usually have dual rear tires.
- Type C – a traditional school bus – can carry between 30 and 40 passengers. These buses are either diesel or gas powered.
- Type D – most closely resembles a motor home can carry upwards of 40 passengers.
Depending on the bus you choose, you may need to familiarize yourself with Ontario’s legal RV requirements. Some buses may also not meet the standards of some RV parks in Ontario.
Bus Conversion Insurance in Canada: How to Insure a Bus Converted to an RV
Before you may insure your converted bus, you are required to re-title your converted vehicle first. Depending on the province, requirements for the specific features a bus may need to be re-titled will vary. Usually, most provinces will require clear living areas, cooking appliances, temperature controls, water supply, and volt power source. In Ontario, an onboard bathroom is also required.
Now for the insurance. Bus conversion insurance in Canada is similar to RV insurance, but know that not all insurance companies are designed the same and many will have different means of determining if they can insure home-converted RVs. RecProtect can help you find the best insurance for buses converted to RVs in Ontario – just apply for a quote or give one of our brokers a call.
Because a converted bus constitutes as a self-propelled vehicle, in Ontario it will require liability insurance. In addition, it is highly recommended that converted bus owners also purchase collision and comprehensive as part of a full-time RV insurance package, if they plan on travelling and utilizing their converted bus as a permanent residence.
Unfortunately, skoolie insurance in Ontario isn’t as easy as insuring a regular RV. There’s more variations, more unknowns, and policies need to be unique enough to account for the specific risks that converted buses may face.
*This article is for information purposes only. RecProtect does not offer coverage on skoolies or any vehicle that has been modified from its original use.