Kim Wesley

Van Life: what to know and how to insure your van

Summer is just around the corner, and people are raring to hit Quebec’s roads. Is there anything better than a road trip under the hot summer sun? Over the last few years, van life has seen a massive surge in popularity. The pandemic has also contributed to this lifestyle craze, with land border closures and international air travel restrictions making globetrotters eager to explore other ways to travel. Trips within Quebec and the rest of Canada have become an increasingly attractive alternative for those who’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Travelling in your own van is also a great opportunity to maintain your family bubble and your privacy while waking up to new scenery every day. What’s more, it offers freedom of movement while keeping basic amenities right at hand.

Still, this type of trip requires plenty of planning, and when it comes to insurance, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Watch out for modifications

Specialized van conversion companies have sprung up like mushrooms over the last few years. Nowadays, you have plenty of options to choose from. However, to get ahold of a fully equipped van, you will need the right budget and a healthy dose of patience, since many in-demand companies have waiting lists. If patience isn’t your strong suit or you’re on a tight budget, you can also purchase an older vehicle and convert it yourself. Plenty of websites and YouTube tutorials explain how to do it. Although this is a great project for DIYers, make sure to keep your insurer in the loop, since modifications can significantly increase the value of a budget vehicle. The insurer may request a professional appraisal to assess the value of your beloved van. It’s in your best interest to agree, since this will ensure you have the right coverage if something happens and will simplify the claims process.

Coverage area

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Quebec automobile insurance policy form has a territorial limit that restricts coverage to Canada and the United States. Once you cross these countries’ borders, your insurance coverage no longer applies. A trip to Mexico can quickly turn into a nightmare if you haven’t bothered to take out insurance in that country. In addition, insurers only allow you to spend a certain number of days outside Quebec without incurring extra charges. This means that if you’ll be out of province for too many consecutive days, the insurer may charge you an extra premium. The exact number of days varies from insurer to insurer: for some it’s 30 days, for others it’s 7 weeks, and in some cases it’s 180 days. The reason for this limited time period is the risk of exposure to civil liability claims.

In Quebec, we have a public insurance plan, meaning that the SAAQ covers bodily injury, regardless of who is responsible. Furthermore, each person claims property damage to their vehicle from their own insurer without the option to sue. In countries like the United States, however, there is a strong culture of litigation. That’s why it’s also important to take out at least $2 million in civil liability coverage when travelling outside of province. Excess liability (umbrella) insurance is another way to extend your policy limit.

Personal liability insurance

Some adventurers have made the decision to hit the road permanently, leaving their car, house and belongings behind. With real estate prices skyrocketing, others see it as an opportunity to have a place to live that allows them to travel full time; after all, working from home has also led many people to rethink their lifestyle. However, a home insurance policy also includes civil liability insurance. What happens when you have no fixed address and your RV’s civil liability policy covers you on the road, but doesn’t cover the damage you may cause to others? Keep in mind that it’s possible to take out civil liability insurance along with your RV policy to cover the expenses you may incur due to bodily injury, property damage or loss of use you involuntarily cause to others in your private life, anywhere in the world. If your trip means you’ll have to leave your belongings in storage, it’s also possible to cover them.

Some of our insurers offer plans tailored specifically to recreational vehicles, which means that you can enjoy your lifestyle with peace of mind. For any questions about specialized products or coverage, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Lareau team, who will be happy to advise you.

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Kim Wesley Personal-Lines Director
Damage Insurance Broker
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