Insurance ... Nobody likes to talk about it and yet it takes a good one for his van or any other vehicle when one decides to realize a road trip in more or less long term. This is even more true in North America where, in the event of an accident, the sums invested can become astronomical!
As you have seen, for those who read our article "Buying a Van in Canada"we made the choice to buy our "Popo" van on the spot.
We will therefore give you the following steps for the following cases:
- Case 1: I bought my vehicle in Canada, it is plated in Quebec.
- Case 2: I bring my vehicle by boat with its European plates,
- Option 1: and I insure it with American insurance
- Option 2: and I insure it with Quebec insurance
With a French + International license (do not forget to do it a few months before leaving), and a tourist visa, the thing is not necessarily easy at first. As for insurance in France, Quebec insurances take into account years of experience. But your years in France having no value in Quebec, they will then not be taken into account and you will be considered without experience and with a foreign license. Nearly all companies refuse immediately in this case, make sure you do not have a Quebec driver's license. (If you arrive with a PVT no worries you just have to exchange your license with the SAAQ and this article does not really concern you, just choose your insurer since you are a temporary resident).
For our part, we have from the summer 2015 call a broker : DPJL Insurance. At the time, they found us insurance for 1 year for our Van plated in Quebec and with our French licenses. The price was a little excessive, around $ 1000 CA the yearbut we had no choice. The only other company we had directly on the phone and able to secure us was asking us for $ 4,000 CAD (haha the joke ... no, actually they were serious ...).
We had therefore taken this option which thanks to the favorable exchange rate was not so much worse ...
After this year of insurance, we asked to renew the contract, but it went to 1400 $ CA ... Hum, no thank you ... Remembering the assurances that we had refused 1 year ago, we had the good surprise to see that this times, and after one year of experience on the North American roads, they agreed to make sure no problem by noting our number French license! A priori in the meantime insurers in Quebec have also relaxed their requirements towards expatriates.
In short for our Volkswagen T3 Westfalia from 1984, insured in all risks ("Both sides" in Quebec), we are paying now $ 550 CA per year, with 6 months per year allowed in the USA and a refund of the van to its expertise value + 3% per year in case of accident.
A priori, it is now possible to find an insurer more easily and even if you only have the French (and international) license and a tourist visa. Try to call them directly before going through a broker.
If you still have rejections, read the last part of this article, there is an effective solution that works every time!
- As for license plates (see article “Buying a Van in Canada”), you can stow the vehicle when it is not in use (maximum of 6 months per year). The insurance then reimburses you for the overpayment and keep a minimum theft/fire insurance. Ideal therefore when you make a return trip to your country of origin for a few months.
- Similarly, if you go to Mexico at least a month, by notifying the insurance and providing the photocopy of the Mexican customs entry and exit stamp,a company will refund the time spent outside Canada and the USA.
In the last news, it's more and more complicated. So much so, that we met several travelers crossing Canada and the USA without insurance ... No problem for them fortunately but hey ... We are never safe, an accident "it does not happen only to others" ...
The approach will be a little different with the French or European license plates but not impossible either.
At the moment and according to our information, the only insurance that accepts to insure Canada and the USA it is Thum Insurance (Tel: +1 (616) 957-2400).
If you arrive by boat via SeaBridge, know thatthey have agreements with Thum so you can ask directly to SeaBridge to take care of the insurance in addition to transportation. The price is a priori the same ...
Well, it's still pretty expensive, mostly for recent vehicles... We have no price to give you so much they are variable from one vehicle to another ... You can make a quote request online on their website: ThumInsurance.com
Insurance is valid for a period of 6 months or 12 months renewable on demand. They can also insure you for Mexico, but there are other insurances that only insure for this country and they are generally a little cheaper. We'll do an article on that very soon!
A recent source (said like it looks like we're secret agents haha), told us that Progressive Insurance in the USA would only provide recreational vehicles (RV for "Recreative Vehicule" in the USA): motorhomes and other vans equipped with a VASP registration certificate.
Exit at home, the pick up with removable cell or the van fitted with a classic gray card, or the beautiful 4 × 4 Defender with roof tent (one day we will have this one!).
The process is simple and is done online BUT it takes indicate an address in the United States (friends, family, hotel?). In addition you will be obliged to contract for 1 year minimum but it is possible to terminate at any time and the prorate will be refunded. Next address that you will give, conditions may change since they apply differently for each state.
If you choose to arrive via Canada, another solution is available to you! We had considered doing this before finding our broker. And we have since been confirmed, and on several occasions, that this solution works.
Here's what to do:
We'll have to call 5 different companies in Quebec (Google is your friend) Ask to make a "quote" (a quote) to each of them, and get a refusal every time ... Yes, until then it's normal ... Think about note the company, the day of the call, the time and the name of the person that you had on the phone.
Then call him Insurance Bureau in Canada at +1(514)288-4321 and say no insurer wants to insure you with your French plates. They will ask you some info and they will compel the first company that you contacted to make sure!
It will be basic insurance of course. She can go from 3 months to 1 year depending on the case, with possibility to spend up to 6 months in the USA. This is not the best solution, especially for travelers with a brand new campsite that want to ensure all risks ... But it may be suitable for some.
All this information is given as an indication, they can of course change at any time. Moreover, each case being different we can not guarantee you that what worked for us or someone else will work for you ...
In any case, make inquiries and take steps well BEFORE you leave. The vehicle insurance is still a major expense item on a long trip!
A big thank you to Denis for the additional information and to all those (they will recognize each other 😉), who gave us fresh information to write this article.
We will try to update the article if new information reaches us.
If you have even more fresh news, other names of insurance companies that have insured with your French plates, do not hesitate to share in comment!