How do we insure a decommissioned ambulance?

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A reader has asked us for help insuring a decommissioned ambulance they want to convert into a mobile escape room, which poses a unique challenge. Despite multiple inquiries, including with the DVLA and Motor Insurance Beaurea, a reclassification is required before insuring and MOT testing the vehicle.

The problem:

My daughter has purchased a de- commissioned ambulance to turn into a mobile escape room.

However, it needs an MOT and when she tries to insure it so that I can drive it to the garage for her (she doesn’t drive) , it doesn’t appear in any drop down list.

My own insurance company couldn’t find it on their system so wouldn’t help.

But it doesn’t appear because it’s still registered as an ambulance on the V5 (though all the emergency equipment, lights and decals have been removed)

Here’s the rub.

We can’t change the classification to van till it’s MOT’d! But we can’t seem to get it insured to take it there!

The solution:

My first port of call to try to solve this problem was to speak to some motor insurance companies.

I tried Aviva. They said as this is a modified non-standard vehicle, they couldn’t help.

Axa also couldn’t help, and recommended I speak to the DVLA.

When I first laid out the issue to the DVLA, they told me two things.

Number 1 – contact the Motor Insurers Bureau about the difficulties in obtaining insurance for this particular vehicle as they would be best placed to advise.

Number 2 – it would be for the customer to organise insurance on their vehicle or to transport the vehicle to a garage for the MOT – DVLA is unable to assist.

So off I went to speak to the Motor Insurance Bureau.

The MIB informed me, however, its remit is compensating victims of uninsured drivers, and holding data, such as the record of all insured vehicles – they don’t actually amend that data as it comes from insurers themselves.

Equally, the MIB has no control over the classification of vehicles.

For the classification to be changed, the MIB said this will have to be a DVLA conversation for this very unique circumstance.

I also asked the MIB if an insured driver can drive an uninsured vehicle under driving other vehicle (DOV) cover (which allows drivers to drive any other car with a third-party only level of cover).

The MIB said this would not be allowed. The other vehicle, in this case the decommissioned ambulance, must have a valid insurance policy already for a driver to use DOV cover from their own policy.

Finally I asked the MIB about towing the decommissioned ambulance to an MOT test centre (to avoid driving it altogether until MOT’d).

The MIB said they believed towing the vehicle would also not be allowed, though they weren’t sure.

So back I went to the DVLA. This time they said I should speak to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

But the DVSA told me, regarding the reclassification of the vehicle, this would be a DVLA matter.

Once the vehicle is re-classified, the issue with insurers should sort itself out, the DVSA said.

They also said regarding driving the vehicle under third party insurance; that is a discussion for the customer and their insurance company.

By this point, as you can imagine, I was losing hope. I told the DVSA I had already spoken to the DVLA several times without luck.

So the DVSA took up my quest for answers, and spoke to the DVLA themselves.

Finally, after the DVSA’s intervention, the DVLA came back to me with a resolution.

The final answer from the DVLA is this:

  • Our advice to your reader would be to firstly make a notification of a change of body type to DVLA.
  • They can do this by completing the relevant section of the V5C. Include a covering letter explaining the circumstances and also photographs of the vehicle concerned.
  • More information can be found here:
  • After the vehicle has been successfully reclassified it should be possible to get insurance.
  • (Insurers told me you may need to contact a specialist insurance broker like Adrian Flux to get cover)
  • Once the insurance has been obtained, the vehicle can be taken to the MOT centre.
  • Following a successful MOT, an application can made to change to the taxation class:

So there it is. After a lot of being passed from pillar to post, an answer.

Hopefully the escape room your daughter is planning for her decommissioned ambulance won’t be as hard to get out of as getting this riddle solved!

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