The steps required to insure your school bus conversion with links to insurance companies who offer coverage for school bus conversions.

~ Written By: Laura Scothern from Skoolie Nation ~

You converted a skoolie!  All systems check out and you're ready to drive away towards unknown adventures, right? Not quite. Obtaining insurance for your liberation mobile can be nearly as daunting as the build. Hopefully our experience of the process outlined below will make legalizing your dream machine less disheartening.

After calling several insurance companies and receiving many rejections, we discovered AIS (Auto Insurance Specialist). With access to multiple insurance providers, AIS makes finding the best coverage and price possible. The following information is our experience with AIS regarding their policies and procedures.

Companies are ever tightening their requirements for Skoolie insurance so having a few things prepared for your potential insurer before calling will really help.

  • Your bus must show living quarters similar to an RV. Stovetop, sleeping quarters, and possibly a bathroom space(but not required).
  • You cannot live in it full time.
  • Your bus must be in good condition. It cannot appear that it is a makeshift job and should meet professional standards. AIS, among other companies may require the bus to have its decals removed and yellow paint covered.
  • The insured driver must be a good driver. Our Sales Representative informed me that a policy was denied because the driver had an accident and a ticket in the last 3 years. More than 1 accident will usually result in a decline.
  • There is not a big difference from state to state in regards to insurance, other than each state has their own minimum coverage requirements.  In Florida any personal injury claim within any 5 year period will usually result in a decline.
  • You must have active personal auto insurance and will be asked for proof. This is because they do not want people driving their bus as a primary vehicle (used for work commute or for personal errands).
  • The policies available are usually only liability and uninsured motorist protection. They do not offer comprehensive, collision or any contents coverage.
  • Wood stoves or the "appearance" of a wood stove and chimney pipe are not allowed.

The following pictures will be required of the interior:

  • cooking area
  • sleeping area 
  • bathroom space 

Cooking Area

Sleeping area

Bathroom area



After sending those, they requested the following:

  • photo from the back of the bus towards front 
  • photo from the front of the bus towards the rear 

View from back of the bus to the front.

View from the front to the back of the bus.

For the exterior they requested the following pictures:

  • Front
  • Back
  • Both sides



After an entire week of hope and anxiousness, National General became our new insurance provider, freeing us to take our home onward and upward.  

There are other insurance companies who will insure bus conversions but will not consider coverage if your bus was previously used for school. If you're in a pinch and need to get insurance quick, Progressive offers insurance online however you will be dropped within two weeks.

AIS also has pre-conversion commercial insurance available. Even if your skoolie is not used commercially, one of these policies may still be possible; however, they are usually slightly more expensive than personal policies. For more information regarding bus conversion insurance, visit the AIS website at:

Below is the contact information of the Sale Representative that we worked with at AIS. Please let him know that Laura Scothern of @skoolienation sent you his way.  

Auto Insurance Specialists

Phone: 866-570-7335 fax:866-732-6739



Living care-free in a Converted School Bus around America.

What life changing E-mail are you waiting for?

What are you currently trying to accomplish? Achieve? Acquire? What do you need to happen in life for you to feel more fulfilled? What passions are you pursuing? What makes you get up in the morning?

Do you ever say to yourself “If only I won the lottery, I would...”


“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s a beautiful story of a young shepherd boy who travels the world looking for a worldly treasure that was promised him. During his travels, he meets all sorts of interesting people, makes a lot of money, loses it, makes some more and seemingly endures one hurdle after another. That is, until his grandest dreams come true.

The Alchemist has my name and story written all over it.

I herd sheep and my name is Alchemist.

Actually it's not. 

I'm Patrick, a dude living in a School Bus.


On March 4, 2015 the idea of “SkoolieLove” was born. A Skoolie is a converted school bus, which I would ride around spreading awareness and Love. Social Media accounts were created, and everything was setup for me to become a famous Bus driver. 



 But how?!

I set off on my EPIC 10,000 mile road trip across this great country on August 15 of that year. I lived as much as I could, enjoying myself tremendously, taking notes and as many pictures as I could. Building my Tiny Home on Wheels, and the ensuing adventure was a success!


A few days into December of 2015, I posted a “Bus Road Trip” picture album on the site IMGUR, which went completely nuts! I posted it and soon had 10 views. 30 views. 250 views. 1,000 views. 5,000 views! It went viral. You can see it HERE. Now up to over 250,500 views! 


I stuffed my face into a pillow on the couch to calm my breathing. This was so amazing! I was so excited. It was the first nod to me, that people appreciate the way I live. They were approving of my choices and wrote some tremendously positive comments. It’s nice to know when other people agree with my life choices and accept me for them. 


“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The next morning, I saw that my email inbox had blown up. There were requests for interviews! I couldn’t believe it! I got in touch with as many people as I could to get the word out about down shifting and living in a bus.

Over the next couple days, I talked with ABC Travel news, Mirror, DailyMail, and other outlets that were covering the Big Blue Bus story. Once the articles came out, it was so super awesome to see my life’s story, Bus Life, written out like that. To be mentioned because I chose to live in a bus, after posting an album on a picture website! 


When I started, all I wanted to do was live in a Bus, and do nothing except the things I loved. Less dishes, less cleaning, and NO job to go to. Reading when I want to read, seeing what I want to see, doing exactly what I want to do. I wanted there to be nothing that I HAD to do. I wanted MY time to be MY time. 

That was my goal when I bought the bus. Was is possible? I HAD to find out.

A couple weeks after the interviews came out, I received an e-mail from a Home Show director in New Jersey. Turned out, he heard of the Bus and loved my story, inviting me to come attend the show. He would even pay me for doing so! I was beyond excited. What a wonderful opportunity, to have my Tiny Home FEATURED at an event!


I called my dad, and teared up on the phone, my leg shaking. We built this bus together. We had such growth in our relationship because of the build. Here, it was being acknowledged. It was beautiful.


The show went amazingly well. 




In July of 2017, I had gotten an email from a production company in England. They were sending a production team over to the States and wanted to shoot an on-the-road documentary about Marijuana Legalization. They contacted me wondering if I would be willing to rent them the bus. Long story short, AWESOME OPPORTUNITY, not great timing. Did not work out. 



These are the possibilities! I never imagined these would be the calls and e-mails I’d be answering. Bus Life has been the right decision, through and through. 

So let me ask you this:

If you received one e-mail today, which could dramatically improve and change your life, what would it be?

What are you currently trying to accomplish? Achieve? Acquire? What do you need to happen in life for you to feel more fulfilled? What passions are you pursuing? What makes you get up in the morning?

Do you ever say to yourself “If only I won the lottery, I would...”

What do you wish you would do? What are you excited about, waiting for?

Step out of your current life’s “limitations” and think about what you would do if everything was possible. Imagine how you would feel if you get what you are working to attract?


I was tired of paying rent, exhausted from long hours working a job that wasn’t right for me, and driving too long and often to get there. I had money, but was always short on time. I wanted to reclaim my time, even if it meant I would have less money. Working as a digital nomad, freelancing could provide me with more time AND more money.

My main objective back then was to live in a place that I felt comfortable in. A place where I could put up anything on the walls, paint it however I liked, and make it feels as homey as possible.


I wanted to live in a bus and came away with a whole new outlook on life, realizing each moment is filled with endless opportunities. Put your intentions out there; you never know how far they will reverberate and come back to you ten fold.

Putting a number on it, I would say life has become 99.98% more interesting since I bought a church bus to live in. It’s a different kind of buzz.


Currently, I feel like I have won the lottery of Life, cause I feel like a million bucks! I’m a soon-to-be-married, debt-free homeowner; in the process of writing two books and SLOWLY making writing a viable source of income for our “Bus”hold. (Household)


Since quitting my time-clocked, steady paycheck job, I have been questioning myself regularly: “What do I have to offer? What can I do, what can I provide to be useful? What is my value and how does that lead to creating an income?”



It has been a balance of physical day labor, as well as mental, creative labor; in the form of writing, building websites, e-commerce, social media and photo editing/graphic design. 


Creating a structured story out of thin air is one of my favorite passions. I spend most of my time reading, writing, and researching.


That “Winning the Lottery!” Email

When first coming up with the “SkoolieLove” idea in March of 2015, creating social media accounts and trying to find other bus people, I came across “Bus Life Adventure” on Instagram. I was BLOWN AWAY that Brock was living out of a white shorty bus, hitting the slopes wherever he and his friends could find snow.


I was searching for anything Bus Life/Skoolie/Bus Conversion related, and found Bus Life Adventure to be one of the Top Skoolie accounts sharing positive information with the Tiny Living community. (Still is, 3 years later) 

So the other day, while sitting in the dining room chair of my Bus home, I was working on a story about a time traveling bus, when my phone lit up. I turned on the screen and saw I had gotten an e-mail from Brock, the Bus Life Multi millionaire-Extra-extraordinaire. (He’s probably more of a thousandaire, but his personality and style is AWESOME!)


It has been so amazing following their popularity rise over the years. It was especially amazing to meet Brock in person, years after “meeting” him and his bus Bruce online. He has been my best friend since the first day we met, his personality is that positively infectious.

Bus Life Adventure – Contributing Writer

View SkoolieLove Blogs & Articles

I met Brock and his fiancee Heidi in person in September of 2017, at the Tiny House Living Festival near Portland, Oregon. There is an immediate connection and bond among the Bus and Van Lifers, sharing so many of the same experiences living in a small home on wheels, traveling across the country. We instantly felt like we had been close friends forever, and he did not hesitate to invite me into their Bus Home for a glass of whiskey. Bus Life is the Good Life.



Then we talked about engine troubles, how we built our interior walls, where we poop and shower, what we eat and how we cook it – you know - typical Bus Life stuff.


The e-mail I was looking at on my phone was from Brock, tossing around the idea for a “Contributing Writer” and social media assistant he was looking to hire. He knows I love writing, and asked me to start putting some articles together for the site. 

The journey continues! Another e-mail has found me alive and well.

Meet the newest Contributing Writer for BusLifeAdventure!

Through my writing, I hope to get more in touch with the Bus Life/Vanlife/ community. Sharing positive knowledge, and growing the network of information- That’s what Bus Life Adventure and SkoolieLove are all about. We don't have a product to sell, as much as we are promoting a way of life.

Every moment is a new opportunity. The next moment could be The Grand Opportunity.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” 
― Seneca 

Never Stop Exploring

-Bus Life Adventure and Skoolielove



~North Carolina high school students in drafting class challenged to design a school bus conversion.~

Interview By: Brock Butterfield ~

Instructor: Todd Matthews ~

I opened an email in my inbox recently that both surprised and intrigued me. Topsail High School teacher Todd Matthews sent me an email explaining how he had tasked his students with designing a skoolie for their family as the final project for his Drafting I class. He asked if I had some time to do a Google Hangout the students that had some questions from an "expert". We organized a time and I spent just time with his two classes to answers some questions they had in regards to building a skoolie. At one moment when we were talking about the layout I asked how many of them had taken into account for the wheel wells of the bus of which no one raised their hand. A mistake I had also made in my first drafts and layout of my first school bus conversion.

After the video call I spoke with Todd and asked if I could write an article on the students and the class curriculum. The fact that high school students are now being given the challenge to look at tiny living as a way of the future made me realize that one day it may not be a fun challenge but yet, a reality.

Todd Matthews drafting class reviewing school bus conversions.

Topsail High School Teacher Todd Matthews shows the students the Bus Life Adventure website to give them an idea of what they're going to be designing.



"Wave to the camera kids! I wanna take a screenshot!"


I was curious more about the class and how Todd had come up with the idea so I composed some questions and shot them his way.

How did the idea come about to have your students design a skoolie layout?

I came up with the idea from my love and experience of traveling. Also I use a final design project to assess the students by giving them a hands on project that will encompass the full curriculum/class.

Students use software to layout the school bus conversion.

What criteria did they have to follow?

Final Design Project Drafting I Skoolie Design

Design a Skoolie (Converted School Bus to RV) that will fit your family. It needs to have the following:

  1. Bed/Sleeping area for each person.
  2. Kitchen area with sink and cooktop/oven
  3. How will you have electricity? (Solar/Generator)
  4. Bathroom with toilet and shower/tub
  5. Laundry Washer/Dryer
  6. Living room area/Gathering area/Dining area
  7. Walls need to be 2” thick

Grading Rubric

  1. Brainstorming Ideas/questions? Full Page = 20 pts.
  2. Research notes with website URL’s (Wikipedia not allowed) 4 websites and full page of notes = 20 pts.
  3. Sketches with explanation notes. 1. Sketch Isometric/Oblique/Perspective 2. Multiview = 25 pts.
  4. Engineered blueprints with Title Block, Border, Dimensions, Multiview, and notes. = 35 pts.






What obstacles did they encounter in their designs?

        - Time management (students get distracted by talking to each other)
        - Lack of creativity or lack of motivation
        - Not taking into account the wheel wells of the rear tires after discussion with you.
        - Fitting all of their immediate family. I have a student that has 7 people living with him.
        - Lack of design experience this is a Drafting I class.

Students use drafting software to layout school bus conversions.

Students use drafting software to layout school bus conversions.

What was the most creative use of space that a student demonstrated?

One picture had the bathroom right behind the driver area and the washer and dryer across from it, followed by the lounge/living room/kitchen area and beds at the back twin XL underneath parents Queen above. I like this idea since you don't have to walk all the way to the back of the bus to use the restroom if you're outside hanging out. Another one was the student with 6 people in his family. 2 sets of bunk beds with parents queen at the back. One student with a washer/dryer across from the bathroom made a statement that this location gives easy access and convenience. (Awesome thought, take off dirty clothes put in washer/hamper, dirty towels, etc.)
The coolest ideas was the student that had the sliding porch/deck that came out from under the bus. It would take a engineer to work out some of the issue and I'm sure water tanks would hinder placement and size but it was an out of the box thought. This is the first time I've done the skoolie project, I've done the container house project and small under 1,000 feet project. I enjoyed this one because I want to be able to travel with my family across this great nation. When teachers are passionate about something it helps motivate and inspire their students.


One students school bus conversion layout concept.


Another creative use of space and layout for a school bus conversion.


- Some thoughts and comparisons from guest blogger and owner of Van Sage -

Guest Blog Written By: Veronica Cavanaugh ~

Over at, we’re always contemplating the idea of converting to the Skoolie world, and there’s no guarantee that we won’t someday. Truth is, every time I see a well-outfitted school bus I dream of an on-board shower, the room to cook a real meal, and maybe even have a guest or two in for coffee. Just a few reasons we were excited to get this invite to compare van and bus life.


You Live in a What?

That is the most common question I receive after people ask my address. Very few people ask to see my van when I tell people I live in one. In fact, most people simply look at me as if I’m crazy.

However, judging from what I’ve seen when a decked out bus rolls into the campground, I bet most people want to take a look into your vehicle.

I know I love seeing inside converted school buses, so I can only imagine how many requests you get from strangers to see inside. Although potentially time-consuming and inconvenient, do you let them look?


Veronica's Dodge Campervan


Trebventure in their full size school bus conversion.

Oh the Lessons You’ll Learn

My friend belonged to a family of 6 that renovated a bus and traveled the United States for 5 years. He said it was the best education he could have received growing up.

Although I am grateful for the campervan experiences I’ve had over the last decade or so, I am jealous of my friend who was able to learn so many powerful life lessons at such a young age. Imagine if more parents raised their children this way!

School buses often provide enough privacy, amenities, and space; perhaps the perfect travel vehicles for families. Van life, on the other hand, can be difficult enough for couples. On the other hand, if you’re rolling solo, a van can be a blissful adventure into minimalism.  


Dharma Tribe Bus teaching their little one the joys of being a kid growing up in a skoolie.

Playing Hostess/Host

I love to entertain and while out on the road I have longed for the option to host friends new and old in a larger space.

I know from experience trying to have friends over in an old Dodge conversion van is a bit difficult. Of course there’s no standing up, and even if the bed is of the hideaway variety and the seating is carefully planned, it gets crowded fast.


In a skoolie you can have a potluck and invite your other skoolie friends over!

Design and Décor

There’s not a lot of room for decorations in a campervan and the inside of a newly demo’d school bus must be like a massive, open canvas in comparison. Much more like designing the layout of a studio apartment, with many possibilities.

While we may have one or two options for our chuck box design and a modicum of storage (every inch counts in a campervan), skoolies actually have enough room for designated dining area, bedroom, bath, etc.

I imagine it is much easier to feel at home when you can personalize your surroundings with cabinet choices, window coverings and other fun stuff.

On the other hand, van lifers aren’t burdened with big design considerations, and a bit of color goes a long way in our tiny space.

Valerie Bus showing how cozy you can get with your school bus conversion.


Clean livin’

In a refurbished bus, there is room for certain things a person in a van would consider a luxury such as plumbed in toilet and shower. Van life made it necessary for me to find public showers.

For van people, some of the best places to shower are laundry mats, campgrounds, and local outdoor outfitters. My portable solar shower bag, while a lot of fun in the sun, is a rough choice in bad weather

When it comes time to use the restroom, my choices are my little portable camp toilet (keep in mind, that’s in my living space), public restrooms or out in nature. It would be very convenient to be able to take care of all of my hygiene needs at home.


Aw. The ability to take a hot shower anywhere inside or outside the bus with this little portable shower.



Of course many school bus models are known for their durable motors and transmissions and I think many Skoolies take pride in the durability and longevity of their rigs.

Luckily for bus owner, many of the parts are interchangeable. Additionally, there are a lot of different bus makes and models available from a wide range of eras. This makes it easier to find the specifics you may want.

Many campervan makes/models are ubiquitous and we rarely have issues finding parts or mechanics who know our machines.

I have heard it can be a challenge to find mechanics that know how to work on buses. And then there’s the shear size of many of your parts. For example, while the tires on buses may last longer, when it is time to replace them they can be pricey and difficult to find.

Still, given the longevity of bus parts, I’d imagine cost of care and maintenance is a wash between buses and vans.


As opposed to a van, most buses you can access everything easily by tilting the hood. Makes self repairs a little easier.

Matters of size

As a campervan queen, there have been many nights I have needed to sleep incognito in town. Other than full length Sprinters, vanners can usually go unnoticed while stealth camping. Even if you have to pull over in broad daylight for a quick nap, your normal looking van won’t garner much attention.

Of course school buses face some real challenges with regard to staying low key and this is one of the biggest differences between the two awesome types of vehicles.

However, I’ve read some accounts from experienced bus dwellers that they always manage to find a spot, stealthy or not.

If not, it can get expensive staying in campgrounds where you may be required to use RV stalls vs the cheaper car/tent spots. Though I am sure the power and water hook ups are well worth it (depending on how you trick out your bus).

Veronica's quick nap setup in her van conversion.  



It was a breeze for The Woody Bus to find parking.

Road awareness and Safety

When I was a new van driver, I had a bit of a learning curve ahead of me as the road awareness required to drive a van is very different from the sedans I’d learned in and always driven.

As a school bus driver, you must be constantly alert. It’s more of a truck driver mentality and includes being aware of overhead bridges, awnings, drive throughs, etc.

It’s easy enough to stay low key in a van and no one needs to know you’re traveling long term or even living in it.

However, when most people see a school bus that’s not bright yellow and packed with kids, they might assume someone is living in it.

So I’d imagine that buses can become a target for break-ins. I’d be tempted to keep windows covered most of the time and install a good alarm. Perhaps even get a mid-sized dog? Be safe out there, please.  


Thanks for reading!

As I mentioned at the top of this article, we’re always considering a bus. If you’re reading this, chances are that you share the same insatiable love of adventure and freedom that we do. So no matter what you choose for long term wandering, we’re all brothers and sisters of the road.

When she's not writing guest posts about van life, Veronica Cavanaugh from is camping, backpacking, or planning her next outdoor adventure. She also enjoys watching old movies and writing poetry.