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How to Find Camper(van) Insurance as a Tourist in Canada

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.
  • Quebec.
  • 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!

Wrapping up

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.

10 thoughts on “How to Find Camper(van) Insurance as a Tourist in Canada”

  1. What a goldmine of information! I can’t thank you enough for this very informative ‘series’ of articles about registering and insuring a vehicle in Canada as a non-resident. My wife and I are actually Canadians, but we’ve lived outside of Canada for many years and will be moving back soon, but want to buy a truck in Canada before our move back and this info will be very useful for our planning. Thanks again!

    • Goede vraag, ik weet het niet, aangezien we dit niet voor onszelf hebben uitgezocht. Ik verwacht dat dit het beste vanuit NL verzekerd kan worden. Dat denk ik omdat geen enkele “out of province” verzekeraar ons een verzekering aan kon bieden. Ze konden alleen voertuigen verzekeren die in hun eigen provincie waren geregistreerd. We zagen tijdens onze overigens reis overigens behoorlijk frequent campers/busjes rondrijden met een NL-kenteken!

      Translation for English readers: The commenter asked if the content of this article applies to vehicles that are transported to Canada from abroad (such as our homecountry the Netherlands). The short answer, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s best to arrange your insurance in the country where your vehicle is registered. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much, this is all super helpful stuff, I have also been having trouble as I am a UK (and Dutch ;D) citizen. I am just wondering how you guys drove from Quebec to New Brunswick without having insurance yet, as I currently study in Ontario where I could get a van, but I am unsure how i could get it to new Brunswick.

    Thanks 🙂

    • It’s my pleasure. Glad to know that our story can be of help to others! This is a bit technical, but here’s what we did:

      We purchased our campervan, and we arranged a temporary permit with the seller. This was a 10-day permit that allowed us to relocate the campervan to another province, where we could get it re-registered. With this temporary permit, there was no need for us to register the campervan in Quebec.

      Once we had purchased the campervan, we bought the insurance. The insurance company needed a copy of the purchase agreement and the 10-day permit, in order for the insurance to kick in.

      Once we were insured, we drove it from Quebec to Fredericton in a single day, where we re-registered the campervan the next day! That’s where they finally gave us our very own license plates, and we were good to go!

      This is probably possible in your situation as well. Best to call around and make sure before you buy something!

  3. Thanks for your efforts for sharing this information about CAN insurance suitable for overseas tourists ….. The first really useable and sensible article I´ve ever read in the net !!!

    Maybe you can elaborate a bit on the following : you found your car ( lets say in the Toronto area ), you paid the seller ( and eventually the sales tax ) – now, you need to get it over to New Brunswick

    What about insurance coverage between Ontario and New Brunswick ?

    Further, if you wish to drop the car off at the port of Halifax NS and you’ll use the “temporary registration alley”, how you you handle the insurance then ?

    Thanks a million for a response

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      We had arranged the New Brunswick assurance before we completed the purchase of our van. In order for the New Brunswick insurance to activate, they needed a copy of the purchase agreement and the 10-day permit. From that point, we were fully insured on the condition that we would fully register the van in New Brunswick as soon as possible, and send them the new documents once done.

      I suppose this works the same for other provinces.

      As for Nova Scotia and shipping… (I’m not sure if that’s what you mean). I’m not sure if there are insurers in Nova Scotia that are willing to give you an offer for this situation. We haven’t checked! 🙂

      Also, from what we researched, it’s impossible for a tourist on an ETA visa to register a car in Nova Scotia (which would be required for insurance).

      If I were you, I would contact a few insurance companies in Nova Scotia to find out for sure!

  4. WOW .. so pleased I found this article … and all the incredible information. It must have taken weeks out of your trip climbing over all these hurdles.
    We are “senior” Aussies and planning to travel CAN/USA for 12 months from April 2025.
    I think the first thing we have got right so far is planning to fly into Vancouver and you have simplified our journey tremendously.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Fiona! You’re right, it took us 3 weeks to figure out all the paperwork before we could legally drive our van across North America. I’m happy to hear that our website has helped your journey. 🙂


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