Our Hard Won Canada Insurance Card - Obv. Blanked Details

Driving Insurance for a European Motorhome in Canada and the USA

Shipping your own motorhome to Canada or the States is in itself a small piece of the puzzle to doing something like this (see my post on shipping your motorhome) but unless you have desire to drive through the most litigious country on earth without some form of insurance you will need to address the issue of driving insurance.

We tried to get this out-of-the-way early on. It seemed that (as we were not prepared to drive without the legal minimum) it could dictate all sorts of other pieces of the puzzle; not least of all when we went and where we landed.

So once the shipping was booked we asked the shipping company for information on insurance and received very detailed and helpful information on the process. There were several US companies all geared up for insuring us. That was until we read the sentence – your vehicle will need to be less than 19 years old! …. ah … mmmm …. okay and if it isn’t less than 19 years old?

It seems that only one broker in Germany was prepared to offer hope and we took it. That was approximately 17 weeks before we left and 14 or so weeks before we shipped Hanna.

To say that the process was tortuous would be a slur on twisty, turny and tortuous processes world-wide. It was like wading through mud with added goo.

The German brokers (www.tourinsure.de) had very strange opening hours and their ability to respond to calls and emails, was, in the beginning random. There was a bit of a break through when Heidi began taking our calls but only enough to give some false hope and no results.

It seems that the US insurance company would NOT issue any form of quotation until 4 weeks before the policy inception date. As in there was no concrete evidence that we could get insurance until that time – and leaves aside the problem of knowing how much that insurance might cost – prohibitively expensive? – but it forced us to find out more about this problem.


If your vehicle is older than 19 years old we found out that there was another US company (The Sunrise Group, 206 N Woodland Blvd, Deland, FL 32720, Telephone: 386-738-2812, www.sunriseworldwide.com) that would insure us – BUT only if we shipped in to the USA and then drove to Canada – we would not be covered if we landed Hanna in Canada and then drove to the States – Even though the insurance was valid in both countries.

If your vehicle is older than 25 years it may be possible to get insurance from specialist US companies for classic vehicles – but as ours was less than 25 years we didn’t investigate this any further.

If your vehicle is 19 years old or less you will have a range of options with regard to insurance and therefore quotes to choose from for your particular needs.

Anyway we had to go with the flow and wait ….. and wait ….. and wait …. all the time the ferry costs and the flights home from brussels and the coach tickets back from London were rising and we still didn’t actually know if we would get insurance – so would we have to ship into New York instead; changing our whole itinerary?

Then as things were getting very very close to leaving we decided that we would ship to New York and give this company the heave-ho. And on the very next day …. we received a quote which was £400 – ish – for me alone and another £40 for Sas to be on it too. This is for the most basic legal insurance you can get – 3rd party pretty much and that’s it.

We did ask for a quote for fully comprehensive insurance and that was 1828 euros and did not include legal assistance. We elected to take the 3rd party insurance and paid accordingly and it still took them until the day after we arrived to email our insurance certificates to us and I am still (4 weeks later) hassling them for a digital copy of the policy document and terms and conditions! Apparently they only have a paper copy and they are loathe to scan it for me …… seriously if they weren’t the only option ….

So in the end we are here and we are both insured to drive in Canada and the US – we still haven’t seen the policy at all – we have received the relevant printable certificates.

Our Hard Won Canada Insurance Card - Obv. Blanked Details
Our Hard Won Canada Insurance Card – Obv. Blanked Details

The cost of getting Hanna to Antwerp was around £250 more because of how long we waited (expecting to have to cancel the shipping booking if the plans changed) and the flights to Canada were about £150 more each for the same reason.

If you haven’t bought your motorhome yet …. please consider the age of your vehicle OR the point of entry to the North American continent and if at all possible DO NOT use our insurance company – Progressive American Insurance Co – if you have to use them, as we are, then be prepared for slow, snail like progress with anything you may wish to contact them about and check ALL your documents as we just checked our Canadian insurance card that they sent through and it has someone else’s vehicle listed on it but the US one has the correct one ….. so help me …

13 Responses

  1. Scott LJ
    | Reply

    and you still managed to avoid teh irony of the company name, “Progressive” American Insurance!

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Oh so tempting to have gone there … I let the name speak to those that studied the post … I wondered who would be the first … 🙂

  2. Jamie
    | Reply


    Sorry this may sound like a silly question, but what do you do about your MOT whilst away traveling. When we have been traveling around Europe we have always had to come back to the UK every year to renew it, otherwise the Insurance wouldnt have been valid. Hope your trip is going ok, your blog is amazing!

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Hi Jamie. Thanks for leaving your comment and it isn’t a silly question. We arranged our MOT to run out after USA, Mexico and Canada. Those are the only 3 country’s where the MOT would need to be valid for the USA based insurance. After that it seems the idea of a yearly inspection is not really valid. Central and south america appear to have a more ‘relaxed’ attitude to such a thing. I agree Europe would be different but having traveled there I would probably get a local version of an MOT if the insurance company would allow that. We will be posting some more up to date posts in the very near future, please check in soon. Regards Mark.

  3. Maggie
    | Reply

    I enjoyed reading about your experience. Is it possible to import a small RV to the US?

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Hi Maggie
      Thanks for reading the blog.
      So to answer your question – If by import you temporary import for travelling around the US and then taking it out of the country again the answer is yes.
      If you mean permanent import to the US then unfortunately I have no information for you – I am sure that it is possible but what hoops and costs there are I have no idea.
      If you would like further information on temporary import from me please ask and I will do my best to advise you based on our experiences.

  4. Paul
    | Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Great blog, Hard to find some of the information you share on here !

    My wife and I are shipping our vw camper ( 2017 model ) to NYC in March for a 9 month trip around the the US and Canada and we are really pulling our hair out when it comes to finding insurance companies, could you please share the companies you have on your list. Many thanks, I will get back to reading your blog now.

    Best Regards

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Hi Paul
      Sorry its taken so long to reply. I dont have a list of insurance companies – sorry.
      I shipped with Seabridge and they passed us over to their insurance provider that then helped me to find a US based insurance company that would insure us.
      Who are you shipping with?

    • Valtteri Rantala
      | Reply

      Hey Paul,

      Can you share which insurance company you went with? Trying to find one that is better deal than what seabridge offered?

      Thank you


  5. Jamie
    | Reply

    How’s your trip going. I’m still hoping for a blog update. Where are you now. My wife and I are just oh the final stages of opening our trip to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. How’s you are ok,

  6. alana
    | Reply

    HI Guys hoping you can help with some info. We want to purchase motorhome in UK use for a couple of months then ship to continue trip in USA.
    Do you still get the no VAT option and how much of a hassle is all the red tape in getting a van across.
    Any costs would be such a help.

    • Mark
      | Reply

      Hi Alana
      Thanks for reading and sorry for the delay in responding.
      I dont honestly know what the ‘no VAT’ option is as far as I know all products bought in the UK for use in the UK attract VAT at 20%.
      The red tape getting the van across? depends on if you see it as hassle or part of the experience?
      It has to be said that for a short visit I dont believe that the shipping costs outweigh the time taken to buy one in the US or Canada and then sell it again … but I havent done that so I cant be very precise.
      I took a german one to a: Know what I was buying before I left so I could get used to it b: Have german engineering and practicality (sorry USA but your older motorhomes/live-in vans are just not up to european standards of build quality, insulation etc) c: size of vehicle – metre for metre European motorhomes have more in them for less external size d: Fuel consumption and finally I was going for at least 2 years.
      Honestly, in your situation, I would probably get a uk address and a USA address and then buy and sell in the UK and then buy and sell in the USA.
      Shipping just got a whole lot more difficult with the Grimaldi ship sinking 2 weeks ago and the tightening up of what you can and , more importantly, cannot carry inside a shipped second-hand motorhome.
      Hope that helps.

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