Finding insurance for your camper(van) as a tourist in Canada can either be really simple or nearly impossible depending on which province you’re in.
When we were looking to buy a campervan in Canada in February 2022, we never expected that insurance would be the most difficult piece of the puzzle. We made some mistakes that could have been avoided if there was any good information online about this process. But unfortunately, we couldn’t find any of this information.
So that’s why I’m writing this post: to help you make find insurance for your campervan in Canada as a tourist.
Things to know before you look for insurance
Before you start applying for online insurance quotes, here are some things you should know:
- What kind of insurance do you want? Do you want third-party liability insurance only, or do you also want your own campervan to be included in the insurance?
- How long do you want to be insured?
- Will you be traveling to other provinces in Canada?
- Will you be traveling to the USA with your campervan?
- How much of the coverage period will you spend outside of the province?
In our case, we wanted third-party liability insurance only. We wanted to be insured for the entirety of our trip, so for a full year. Our plans included traveling to the USA and outside of the province. In fact, we would spend 95% of the time outside of the province where we registered the vehicle in.
You need to be insured in the province where you register the vehicle
Every province in Canada carries its own set of rules. And you need to have your vehicle insured in the province where you register your vehicle.
Believe me, we called over 50 insurance companies, both inside and outside our province, and they would only think about insuring our plans if we registered our vehicle in their province.
So as a general rule of thumb: if the insurance company doesn’t have an office in your province, don’t bother calling them!
Where can you register a vehicle as a tourist?
I wrote an entire article dedicated to this question, but there are currently only 3 provinces in Canada that allow you to register a vehicle in your name as a tourist:
- British Columbia.
- New Brunswick.
How to find camper(van) insurance as a tourist in Canada
Depending on where you’re looking to register, I’ll go through the process for each province.
Finding vehicle insurance as a tourist in British Columbia
Finding insurance for your campervan as a tourist in British Columbia is the easiest when you’re in British Columbia.
The ICBC (The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) provides auto insurance for all vehicles registered in B.C.
In fact, their basic insurance is the mandatory coverage you need for a vehicle in B.C.
When I researched my options, I gave their support line a call, and it was super straightforward:
They offer third-party liability insurance for tourists for a minimum coverage of 200,000 Canadian Dollars. If you want more coverage (which is recommended if you’re also visiting other provinces or the USA), you can opt for extended coverage.
I gave them my situation. For a full year of coverage, with third-party liability coverage for up to 2 million Canadian Dollars, they quoted me 1,600 Canadian Dollars. This would include travel to the USA and other Canadian provinces.
To make it even easier, the ICBC is also the place where you’ll need to go to in order to register the vehicle to your name. So basically, you could have both your insurance and vehicle registration arranged within a single afternoon!
Finding vehicle insurance as a tourist in Quebec
When we traveled to Canada, we decided to start looking for a campervan in Montreal, Quebec. What we didn’t know at the time is just how hard it is to find a suitable insurance plan for our travels in Quebec.
In fact, we called over 40 insurance companies in Quebec, and none of them were able to offer us a suitable insurance plan.
The reasons they gave us varied:
- They couldn’t insure us due to our plans to travel to the US.
- They couldn’t insure us as tourists without a Canadian driver’s license.
- They couldn’t insure us as we planned to be outside of Quebec for >6 months.
If your travel plans are a bit more modest, you may have more luck. We came very close to receiving an insurance quote from Leclerc. They eventually declined me as I hadn’t had any auto insurance for over a year. (I had sold my car in the Netherlands long ago).
Now, here’s the fun part: In Quebec, it’s written in the law that everyone (including tourists) must insure their vehicles. When no insurance provider or broker is able to offer you anything, you can request assistance from the Bureau d’assurance du Canada (BAC). This organization will assist anyone that has been rejected by insurance providers via the conventional methods.
We entered this process, and although it worked, it didn’t help us get what we want. Here’s why:
Before the BAC would assist us, I needed to provide proof of 5 rejected insurance quotes. I had to provide a list of companies that rejected to provide us with insurance.
Thereafter, the BAC would take up to 10 business days to mediate a “deal” between us and an insurance provider.
After 7 days, we received a call from one of the insurance providers, offering us the absolute minimum coverage. Great, right?
No. This would mean that – in case of an accident – we would have liability coverage for only 50,000 Canadian Dollars. In the US, this number would be even lower. So if we ever caused an accident and we would be held liable, we would still be in big trouble, as most hospital bills (especially in the US) would exceed this minimum coverage.
So in the end, we weren’t able to find insurance in Quebec and had to move to New Brunswick.
Finding vehicle insurance as a tourist in New Brunswick
As discussed in our post on how to register a vehicle in Canada as a tourist, we ended up driving our vehicle from Quebec to New Brunswick in order to find proper insurance.
When we were still in Quebec, we called a bunch of insurance providers in New Brunswick. On our 3rd call, we found the Guy R Day Insurance Group that offered us liability insurance with good coverage.
How much does vehicle insurance cost in Canada for a tourist?
We paid 3,307 Canadian Dollars for a year of third-party liability coverage. This includes coverage of up to 2 million Canadian Dollars in case of damage where we are held liable. This coverage extends to all provinces of Canada and all the states of the United States.
This insurance also works with are European driver’s license. This is perfect, as we weren’t able to transfer our license to a Canadian license!
We found this relatively expensive, but after spending 2 weeks in vain to find insurance in Quebec, we were happy to finally have an offer!
If you want to buy, register, and insure a (camper)van as a tourist, finding the correct insurance can be an uphill battle. We certainly experienced some headaches during our search.
If you’ve got the same travel plans for North America as we did, then I recommend you to not start your journal in Quebec. Instead, start looking for a van to buy in British Colombia or New Brunswick.