Problems with Canadian RV Insurance

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ICBC does not protect RVers in the US!

I know full-time RVers face many challenges obtaining adequate insurance on your Canadian RV Insurance and continues because of the “Full-time” status. There are companies who will insure them but you may have to do a lot of searching.

Canadians - long term traveling

What if you are Canadian and want to do some long term traveling through the United States, returning periodically to Canada to ensure your medical and domicile residency are kept legal?

That doesn’t sound difficult does it? Well it is. If you bring your RV home each time, there’s absolutely no issue.

But.. if you want to leave your RV in the states, putting it into storage while you are home, then fly back when you are ready to start traveling again. This way there isn’t any backtracking and less wear and tear on the RV.

It can’t be done! 

BC residents at least can’t do it. I haven’t checked with other provinces but if you leave your RV in storage and it’s insured in BC, once you leave it there the insurance is void.

RV insurance Agency

Insurance Agent Information

I spoke with a representative of an insurance company in Kamloops who sells ICBC insurance (which is the basic that we all need to insure our vehicles).

They also provide our licence plates which we need. If we want extra coverage we can then go to a private insurer which is fine but if we don’t follow the rules regarding the ICBC portion then we run into trouble.

If we don’t follow their guidelines completely ICBC will not protect RVers in the U.S.

Canadians Can Insure their RV in the United States

There is a way around it but it can become very expensive. I spoke with an insurance agent in Arizona who said that most Canadians who have RVs in Arizona and leave them there, they insure and register them in Arizona.

That’s fine because most of these RVs are set up in a park and never move.

There aren’t any real problems with it because the RV never comes into Canada so a person never has to worry about transferring registration or insurance.

But what can a person with a motorhome or RV who wants to travel?

The same Arizona insurance agent said that a Canadian can register their RV in Arizona as long as they have a mailing address (RV Parks may allow this) and then insure it.

You can then travel anywhere in the US and leave it in storage periodically.

Sounds good, except if you choose to bring the RV back into Canada you will have to re-register it in Canada again which will prove to be very costly.

One of my readers did even further research and shared it with me.

Hi Carol Ann
Just a quick follow up. I have confirmed that if I export, register and insure my motorhome in Az (or any US jurisdiction), it can no longer return to Canada without going through the actual import process. Aside from other expenses and taxes I would have to pay the Federal sales tax (5% of value) and the (BC) Provincial Sales tax (7%) of value to return it to Canada. On a $50000 motorhome that’s $6000 plus inspection fees etc.
It appears that there are many ways to run foul of insurance and registration laws. For example, a vehicle continually in Arizona for more than 6 months is supposed to be registered there. I note that many of my Arizona neighbours leave vehicles with the licenses of their home states for years. Again an interesting situation should they have a serious accident. Is an improperly registered vehicle still covered? Not really a question but an example of the complexities of this issue.
Thanks again for your interest
I will send you updates

A few years ago (quite a few) I traveled for 12 months all through Canada, the United States and Mexico, only obtaining different insurance for Mexico. I guess ignorance is bliss and thank goodness we didn’t encounter any problems because I’m not sure we would have been insured since ICBC does not always protect RVers in the U.S.

Thoughts anyone?  Canadian insurance companies are going to have to start servicing the needs of RVers better – we don’t always want to stick close to home – there is so much to see out there and time is running out!  Please let me know what you think about the problem with Canadian RV insurance.

Happy travels,

Carol Ann

 

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Hello Carol;
    Thank you for your great information. I am in Ontario looking for a Full time rv insurance. I have talked to many different brokers and they all say Aviva no longer offers full time RV coverage. UGH Have you heard of anyone else, i have done tons of research, websites say they do and then you get a quote they say oh as of march 1 we don’t anymore……..they all seem to be brokers for aviva. Any ideas? Thank you!

    1. hi Sarah, I’m glad you find the information helpful. Ouch as to Aviva! I have put in a call to my insurance agent to learn more about Aviva and see what’s available. I am currently camped with no wife so will do my best to get back to you this weekend. Sorry for the delay.

      I’ll talk to you soon.

      CarolAnn

  2. Mary

    I have a question, If you are Canadian and living in Canada at a home address, but travel to the USA for the allowed time to be out of Canada per year, If as a Canadian you buy a motorhome or trailer in the USA and leave it there to use while there without ever bringing it into Canada as your US home and just put it in storage while you return to Canada, can you get US insurance on it without needing to look for Canadian insurance to put on it??

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      Hi Mary,
      Yes, you can definitely insure an RV in the US – leaving it there. You will need to provide an address to the insurance company which is possible I’m sure – potentially an RV Park or? Sounds interesting. 🙂

  3. Ryne

    Hi, thank you for the post and the information you bring because I was intrigued and also at the same time struggling to find the right RV motorhome insurance for an RV I’m planning to purchase. A lot of insurance brokers that I’ve reached here in Ontario Canada don’t support for full time permanent residence in an RV motorhome.
    I’m sending a message here to look for guidance on something I’ve got an issue with, and its having an address and also to insure the RV that I’m getting as a full time residence. I was looking into the Escapees website and I noticed it seems like they’ll give a mailing address in the RV Park but I’m not sure everyting about that because it seems I have to pay annually for that still. Is there any thing to do that I can get advice on this? I’m pretty new to this all.
    Thank you.

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      Hi Ryne,
      Okay finally I can respond to this for you. I’ll answer each question at a time – hopefully this will give you the answers you are looking for.
      1. Insurance for full-timing in Ontario (Canada) – one of the most popular ones is Aviva. We have used their services for years, not only for our RV but our home and have been satisfied. I do recommend – if you are living in your RV full-time make sure your insurance agent knows this. Or if you have a problem and need to place a claim you may find you aren’t insured.

      2. Address – in order to license your vehicle for Ontario you must have a physical address in Ontario – not a Post office box. You mentioned Escapees – they are in the US and although they have a great mail forwarding service, their address does not address your need for a physical address in your home province.

      How you go about obtaining a physical address is different for everyone. Some rent a room in a family member’s house; partner with a RV Park in their home town and if you will be there during the warmer months they may allow you to use their address. There are ways to make it work.

      Some provinces also allow you to be absent – with permission- for travel up to 2 years. But… you have to verify that and get confirmation before you leave.

      3. Address part 2 – you must have a physical address for your medical insurance and driver’s license. Here’s what is required as a minimum from your provincial medical website;

      To meet the minimum qualifications you must:

      *be physically in Ontario for 153 days in any 12‑month period
      *be physically in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after you began living in the province
      *make Ontario your primary home

      The other thing is your province (and other’s may follow up with this too) does not cover you for medical if you leave the country. It’s okay if you travel within Canada but not out of the country.

      Canadians face challenges when they choose to RV full-time – but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. There are hundreds living the lifestyle – just by getting creative.

      I am sorry I don’t have anything good to say except to respond to your question about full-time RV insurance – Aviva.

      If you need anything else please don’t hesitate to email me.

      CarolAnn

      Here’s a link to another post I did that may clarify it even more for you.

  4. paul

    I am in another situation. I want to leave my motorhome in Mexico where I can get a 10 year permit for it. No issue getting Mexican insurance. I would, however, like to keep the BC registration up to date and do not know if that can be done without insuring it here, which is a bit of waste if its not here. One option may be to just keep storage insurance on it even though its not in BC. Since i would never claim on it, it should not be a big deal. Only issue is if i have to turn back the plates. I do need those in mexico at least.

    1. Hi Paul. I don’t believe our ICBC insurance is valid when we are in Mexico. But… I am going to do more research. Let me know if you have learned anything on this as well please.

  5. Pat

    I too travel to Florida each year for three months leaving the trailer in a secure storage facility and am having a difficult time finding an insurance underwriter who will write RV insurance for a travel trailer registered in Canada. Do you know of an underwriter in the Florida Area who provided insurance options?

    1. Hi Pat,
      I am sorry I don’t but will post this to see if we get a response. I will post it on FB as well.
      CA

  6. Ken

    I am planning to leave my 5th wheel in California year round (I will just be using it for 3 months and just drive my truck back in April. Will US Customs require special paperwork to be filled out?

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      I don’t believe so but I would check with them before you head back – or maybe on your way south. I know there are many people who do this so it shouldn’t be a problem. However, make sure your unit is insured if you leave it down there.

  7. Katie

    Hi Carol Ann, I looked at the Escapees website linked above and was going to join but I’m confused. (no surprise there) The Canada version is $10, the American is $40, what is the difference? If your Canadian mostly RVing in the US should you join the US?

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      Hi Katie,
      The difference between US membership and Canadian is +$10 – so it will cost you $10 more. It’s in US funds. Hope that helps.
      I continue to be a member even though we haven’t traveled in the US for awhile. I just am loyal to the club and love the magazines and information they provide. Some of my feelings are just sentimental. I should have got a lifetime membership years ago when it was only a few hundred dollars. Not worth it for us now. Hope this helps.

  8. Grampakoot

    I’m still not clear on this.
    If I leave my motorhome in storage at park I’m staying for a couple of years, what’s the problem if I have up to date ICBC insurance?

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      Unfortunately according to ICBC if you leave the vehicle in the US and return home without it your insurance becomes void. I would double check with your own agent but from my research that is the policy. A number of people probably do this and never run into problems but if it gets stolen or damaged while in storage and a claim is filed you may find that you are not insured. My recommendation is to confirm this with your agent. I know it’s frustrating but it’s better if you know what you’re up against. Thanks for the question.

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