Anyone who follows us knows that we have aimed our arrows at overlanding in 2022 North America (of USA en Canada† We are going to ship our 4×4 camper to Baltimore, but of course the vehicle also needs to be insured. Your European insurance is not valid overseas. As you probably expect, it is not easy to insure your own vehicle on the other side of the world. In this article I will take you along in the search for a suitable vehicle insurance for our 4×4 motorhome, our house on wheels with which we will travel for a year in the US and Canada.
Plan your vacation to America here
- Tour you compare TUI, Americaplus, sawadee en Djoser.
- Motorhome rental companies you compare WorldWideCampers.com
- Fly & drives you compare Americaplus en Travelworld.
- Cruises and city trips for America you book with Travel deal.
- Flight tickets for America you book with TUI, KLM, KAYAK en Skyscanner.
- Rental cars you compare Sunnycars, Alamo en rental cars.
- Tours and Activities in America you book via GetYourGuide.
- Camping sites in National Parks you book on RECREATION.gov
- Hotels & Resorts in America you book with Booking.com.
- SIM cards you compare USAsim en International sim.
- Parking at the airport you can arrange via Parkos, Central parking of park care.
- travel items (suitcases, bags, world plugs, etc. can be ordered at Bol.com.
Table of contents
Our journey through the United States and Canada
This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country.
Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.
When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.
More blogs from our trip through America and Canada
- Roadtrip USA (1) | New York City Tips and Travel Guide
- Roadtrip USA (2) | Tips for Annapolis
- Roadtrip USA (3) | Washington DC Tips and Travel Guide
- Roadtrip USA (4) | Tips for Baltimore (picking up the motorhome)
- Roadtrip USA (5) | Tips for Savannah
- Roadtrip USA (6) | Tips for Barrington & Blythe Island Country park, Georgia
- Roadtrip USA (7) | Tips and 4×4 camper on the beach in Amelia Island
- Roadtrip USA (8) | Tips for Amelia City
- Roadtrip USA (9) | Tips and why Florida is great
- Roadtrip USA (10) | Tips for St. Augustine
- Roadtrip USA (11) | Tips and danger for alligators and bears
- Roadtrip USA (12) | Florida Off Road Tips
- Roadtrip USA (13) | Tips for Kennedy Space Center
- Roadtrip USA (14) | Tips for Street Art in Wynwood, Miami
- Roadtrip USA (15) | Tips for Everglades National Park
- Roadtrip USA (16) | Shootings, Trump crazies and political unrest
- Roadtrip USA (17) | Tips for The Florida Keys | Dolphin watching and island hopping
- Roadtrip USA (18) | Tips and travel guide Miami
- Roadtrip USA (19) | Tips and Highlights East Coast USA – New York to Key West
- Roadtrip USA (20) | Reality check: What long-term travel does to you mentally
- Roadtrip USA (21) | Our New Itinerary and Itinerary for America: An Update
- Roadtrip USA (22) | Tips for Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Roadtrip USA (23) | Tips for Mesa Verde National Park
- Roadtrip USA (24) | 100 days of living and working in a motorhome (our experience)
- Roadtrip USA (25) | Our Mitsubishi L200 camper has overheating problems
- Roadtrip USA (26) | Tips for the Million Dollar Highway
- Roadtrip USA (27) | Tips for Silverton, Colorado
- Roadtrip USA (28) | Tips for Ice Lakes Trail: Beautiful Lakes and Waterfalls
- Roadtrip USA (29) | Tips for Ouray, the Switzerland of Colorado
- Roadtrip USA (30) | Tips for Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Roadtrip USA (31) | overlanding in a Mitsubishi L200 4×4 camper
- Roadtrip USA (32) | Tips for Rocky Mountain National Park
- Roadtrip USA (33) | Tips for Dinosaur National Monument
- Roadtrip USA (34) | Tips for Salt Lake City and Bonneville Salt Flats
- Roadtrip USA (35) | Tips for Grand Teton National Park
- Roadtrip USA (36) | Tips for Yellowstone National Park
- Roadtrip USA (37) | Travel setbacks – Inflation, weak euro and car problems
(We traveled through Canada as well during this trip, that's why it looks like numbers are missing. You can find all Canada travel blogs here.)
North America makes it hard for us
We're only two months away from our trip to the US and Canada, but planning and preparation for sure makes it our hardest trip yet. Normally we prefer to do as much as possible on the spec, but for the US and Canada…? get that out of your head, it won't work.
Applying for visas and closed embassies are all part of the hassle, but by far the most challenging mission is to insure your vehicle in the Americas. Thinking back on the past few weeks, I realize that I have literally been arranging insurance for weeks. Bizarre.
I took the experienced overlander's websitetuck truck' as a basis and searched and visited hundreds of websites and sent countless emails. I sent many reminders and on request I often sent additional information and documentation about the vehicle. Sometimes we also had to take pictures of the inside and outside of our motorhome to get a quote. And there were also insurers who asked for copies of my passport and driver's license…
In the end, usually nothing came out. They don't respond at all, or after a few emails they stop responding. A lot of energy was wasted, but fortunately there were reactions from some insurers. However, I almost fell off my chair when I received the first quotes in my mailbox… That's promising.
The insurance problem
It is problematically difficult to arrange insurance in the United States and/or Canada. Astonishing, I know. After all, they are Western countries, one even calls itself 'the greatest in the world'. But from an administrative point of view it is a bureaucratic mess – which you as a traveler have to maneuver yourself through.
And it hasn't gotten any easier in recent years. On the contrary. For some reason, it has become extremely difficult in recent years for private vehicle travelers from anywhere in the world to purchase auto insurance for North America. Once upon a time there were travelers Europe, Australië, Timbuktu or wherever who shipped their RVs to North America, took out insurance, and just went on a road trip. You would think nothing to worry about.
Insuring a vehicle has become difficult
That's no more. Since 2016, it has been difficult (and very expensive) to find coverage for the US and Canada. More recently, since 2018, additional restrictions have been added specifically for Canada. Now the few companies that offer coverage, usually Canada, are also phasing out coverage.
Speculate all you want about the reasons… Some argue that it is due to European privacy laws. But if that were the case, travelers from Australië of South Africa don't have the same problem as those laws don't apply there.
Foreign vehicles are nightmares
But the fact is, it's turned into a bit of a nightmare. For insurers, and therefore also for us, the customers. We understand that it is a foreign vehicle. That the drivers have a foreign driver's license. That travelers do not have a residential address in the US or Canada. This entails increased risks, which is logical. Yet it is not entirely clear WHY more and more insurers stop insuring overlanders or foreigners.
That said, I'll leave the how and why up for now. You can speculate about that in the comments. For now, let's move on by listing the different options and options available to insure your vehicle in the US and Canada.
Vehicle insurers in the US and Canada
Insurers that do not offer cover
I have approached countless insurers myself in the hope of taking out insurance. I also consulted other overlanders and asked for help. Together we came up with a list of insurers that responded to e-mails, but could not offer cover to overlanders from another continent.
These are the insurers that don't offer coverage – they all responded to our questions but declined coverage.
Insurers who don't even respond
All of these insurers did not respond. Despite multiple, polite reminder emails. I'm not saying this is always the case, just try it yourself. Every situation and vehicle is unique, but at least I was blunt here…
The insurers we can turn to
I was able to make real progress at only three (!) companies. These are Thum, Seguro Gringo and Progressive† These insurers responded quickly to emails or questions via socials and I have now received quotes from all three. However, a clear distinction can be made between these three.
It doesn't matter where you live or where you come from. They are very quick to respond to questions via email.
With Progressive it is a lot more difficult. In principle, they are open to foreigners to insure here, also with a vehicle from Europe or another continent. However, you cannot continue on the website if you do not have an American postal address. When I asked via facebook chat if we could insure with them without a US postal address, I got a 'no' in response. They did indicate that in principle this is the only obstacle, so if you can arrange a postal address in the US then you can probably also contact Progressive.
Progressive is extremely interesting for us because it is (according to hearsay) a lot cheaper than Thum insurance. The only problem is that we don't have a US mailing address.
Help us: if you read this and know someone in the US, or do you live in the US yourself and would you like to help us out with a postal address? We are eternally grateful to you and will bring you a box of stroopwafels and licorice ?. Do not hesitate to contact us!
Now that you know what the possible options are, I will go into more detail about the three different insurers.
Would you like to request quotes from Thum Insurance yourself? Then consult here their website.
Thum has been one of the preferred insurers for European overlanders in North America for quite some time (several decades). Their responses to emails are always prompt, efficient and polite. They can certainly afford to retain a high-quality workforce if you know what insurance costs with them – just count on $3.500 to $10.000 a year depending on your vehicle and its value.
What is important to know is that Thum Insurance no longer insures just any vehicle. There are restrictions on off-road vehicles, vehicles over the age of 30 and homebuilt RVs, especially for Canada.
Offers third-party vehicle insurance
Because I always try to be as transparent as possible on this website, I will also original quotes share with you. And to really give you a complete picture of the possible costs that you can expect, I have also enlisted help from other overlanders.
I have therefore included four recent quotes from Thum insurance for three completely different vehicles below. Two of our 4×4 pickup camper with demountable unit, one of a large truck / truck camper (the one of @familyeverywhere) and one of a self-build bus camper (from Fons and Marja).
1. WA quote: Mitsubishi 4×4 pickup
This is the quote of our own 4×4 camper. When applying for the vehicle insurance, I immediately asked for a quote for both third-party liability and All-Risk.
Note: the value of our vehicle has been slightly reduced for the third-party liability insurance because this did not matter in terms of coverage, but it would ensure a cheaper premium. You therefore see a difference in current value with the third-party liability and all-risk insurance. Kyle from Thum Insurance also came up with this herself.
2. WA quote: Mercedes Sprinter campervan
Fons and Marja have a 2019 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and were kind enough to share their quote for this article. On behalf of me and our readers: thank you Fons and Marja!
Quotations All-risk vehicle insurance
Below are two examples of all-risk quotes from Thum. What is particularly important to know here is that Thum insurance offers two different all-risk options. At an additional cost of course.
Option 1 of the all-risk vehicle insurance covers fire, lightning, explosions, vandalism, accidents and also the overturning of your vehicle.
Option 2 of the all-risk vehicle insurance covers everything from option 1 + wind damage, theft, hail, water damage from flood and earthquakes.
Obviously, both options also cover the WA portion, so damage you inflict on others.
1. All-risk offer: Mitsubishi 4×4 pickup
2. All-risk quote: Mercedes 1017 truck
With option 1, @familyeverywhere's Mercedes 1017 expedition truck comes out $6822 per year with a deductible of $5000. It should be noted, however, that theft is not included in option 1.
For option 2 with additional coverage such as wind damage, theft, hail, flood and earthquakes, the quote comes out at a sloppy $8911 per year with a $5000 deductible.
ouch. Those are really painful amounts. Especially when you consider that this insurance is not valid in Canada and Alaska. You will have to arrange separate insurance for this.
No more coverage in Canada unless…
Have you noticed that it often states that there is no coverage for Canada and Mexico? To clarify, I asked Thum Insurance why they couldn't offer us vehicle insurance for Canada. You can read the answer below. Click to enlarge.
So they no longer insure 4×4, expedition or off-road vehicles in Canada. It seems that vehicle insurance through Thum in Canada is only really viable for standard, road-going, professionally built RVs that are of low enough value to keep the premium at a viable level. To clarify, I also asked whether a self-built bus camper could be insured by them in Canada, the answer was 'no'. It's really just for standard factory motorhomes.
Also not mentioned, but in the fine print, is that Thum Insurance does not provide standard coverage in Alaska. You can get coverage from Thum Insurance in this state, but you will have to request a separate quote for that too. So this is going well…
Seguro Gringo Insurance
Would you like to request quotes from Seguro Gringo Insurance yourself? Then consult here their website.
Seguro Watte? That's right, Gringo… In other words, the word that is used in Latin America to invoke Westerners and/or whites. A questionable name if you ask me but they both have options.
Seguro Gringo is a Mexican company that provides coverage for many types of vehicles from every corner of the world. Best of all, they offer vehicle insurance for both the United States and Canada and Mexico, on one policy if desired. This makes things a lot easier if, for example, you want to combine the United States and/or Canada and Mexico in one trip, like us.
Requesting a quote yourself is easy
Because we don't have a regular camper, but we also don't have a campervan, I asked which one I should choose (with a photo of our car that was sent). Our 4×4 camper falls into the campervan category for Seguro Gringo, if you have a similar car.
The online form is easy to use and within minutes you will have a quote in front of you. Within a few hours I also had a quote via email.
Advantages and disadvantages Seguro Gringo
Seguro Gringo is actually known for accepting and insuring anything on 4 wheels. But it also definitely has its limitations. For example, they do not offer all-risk insurance and the third-party liability coverage is quite limited in terms of amounts, especially when you consider how quickly amounts can add up in the US if someone ends up in hospital, for example.
Advantages of Seguro Gringo:
- No North American address needed
- Foreign driving licenses are accepted
- Insure almost everything
- To be closed per 30-90-180-360 days
- Only third-party vehicle insurance possible
- Based in Mexico, so falls under the Mexican legal system
- Limited Coverage Levels
WA Quotation Mitsubishi 4×4 pickup
Although the premium for third-party vehicle insurance here costs 'only' $2.000 a year compared to Thum's $2.700, the coverage is about 5x less when you look at the insured amounts.
That's a huge difference for an almost comparable premium. I have no experience with the US insurance market and can only assume that Seguro Gringo's coverage is designed to simply keep you legally on the road. The amounts mentioned do not seem to me to offer realistic coverage for possible costs and liabilities in these countries.
For instance: It's more than doubtful that $2.000 in medical expenses to occupant would cover US or Canadian hospital bills in the event of a serious accident.
In fact, I think the balance of liability (as little as $100.000) could become a matter for the US court if you hit someone else's expensive car or RV, for example. With $500.000 at Thum, that feels a little less worrying – although you can absolutely compare it to the amounts that you usually get insured in the Netherlands – there it quickly goes into the millions.
Save the best for last, I'll just say. Progressive Insurance is a well-known insurer in the US. You can insure everything for cars, boats, campers, trucks and trailers. Provided you live in America, because for a foreigner it is in principle possible to use their service, but you will have to overcome some obstacles to get something done on this website. That's the main reason it's at the bottom of the blog - by no means everyone will be able to overcome all these obstacles.
US zip code needed
For example, I couldn't manage to request a quote via the website at Progressive because you have to enter a zip code immediately. You can of course get around this by Googling a fake address with zip code and filling it in… No sooner said than done – then you go one screen further. If you want to test yourself, use the zip code 21224.
A physical mailing address in the United States
But just enter a random zip code, that is of course not the intention. They just want to check if you live in the US. Upon inquiry, it turned out that a postal address is also enough, so you can choose to buy a physical 'post office address' in the US online.
These are simply physical PO boxes somewhere in the US that your mail can be sent to. Useful. These mailboxes are often subscription-based and range from approximately $7 to $25 per month, depending on location and service chosen.
For example, some mailboxes offer to open all mail and photograph it or scan it and forward it via email. Super convenient, but at an additional cost of course. Some providers of physical mailing addresses in the United States of America:
Of course you can also use the address of family or friends in the US. If I had it, I would absolutely use it.
An American IP address
All right, you have an address in the US, you've crossed the first threshold with Progressive. But then you run into the following problem one or two screens later: the website no longer works as soon as the quotation engine starts running – resulting in a white screen. If your connection does not come from an American IP address, you will not get any results on your screen.
You can also circumvent that with the help of a VPN. Anyway, if you have also overcome this threshold, you can request a quote via the website and even take out insurance. Whoops!
Be honest about the information you provide
But beware… The above is indeed a hassle for many – but there is more than that. In principle, you are already lying about the application for your insurance, you are not in the US at all while you are pretending to be.
So I waited a while before actually taking out the insurance because I don't want to complain about the information given at the time of applying or taking out.
You know how insurers can be… If there's the slightest reason to refuse a claim, they will. And should something actually happen along the way, I want to make sure I did the right thing.
Contact Progressive Insurance
That's why I first tried to contact them via email. Just to cover myself. After a search online and on their website, it seems that there is no email address for questions.
I ended up on them official contact page† They do have an online e-mail form, but that also doesn't work without VPN.
Contact via Facebook chat
That's why I decided to contact them via Facebook. I explained my situation via chat. That I was going to travel in the US, I don't live in the US and the website doesn't work when I request a quote, because I'm currently in the Netherlands. And that I couldn't find an email address.
Within two hours I received a very nice response. Greg the customer service representative indicated that the website is indeed blocked outside the US. But at the same time, he himself gave the tip to use a different VPN, in order to be able to request quotes. I indicated that even with a VPN it had not worked.
I followed Greg's tip and tried a different VPN (Avast), with which I managed to get quotes.
When asked why we necessarily need an address, I got the following answer: it would be used for all necessary postal correspondence, but this is more of a formality because nowadays you also get the policy etc via email.
Quotes Progressive Insurance
Now that I had the green light everywhere, I could actually get to work requesting quotes from progressive. And where I first fell off the chair with Thum because of the price, I fell off the chair again with Progressive because I was so surprised, but this time about the low price. Wow!
And please note: the quotes below are for a kind of all-risk insurance. I've included the original quotes below for completeness.
1. Quotation Mitsubishi 4×4 pickup
To give you a good idea of the coverage of Progressive, I have added the detailed policy pages in two parts below.
Note: I've selected maximum coverage wherever possible. For example, I also put the personal items from 1000 to 12000 dollars. This really only saved a few tens a year, so why not?
And yes, you read that right. With all coverages I come up with a maximum, out of $1201 a year† This is a whopping $2446 each cheaper than Thum Insurance. It took quite a bit of time and effort, but I'm saving almost $2500 in one fell swoop. You can do a lot of fun things with that!
2. Quotation Mercedes 1017 truck
Because I could now enter the system, I immediately decided to request quotes for @familyeverywhere's truck. Filling in a few pages of information later, the following quote came out. Also this time I put as much coverage as possible on maximum!
I have a civilized website but HOLY [email protected]#$% SHIT. What a bizarre difference! For the most complete coverage Progressive can offer, you only pay for an expedition truck worth $100.000 $3599 a year.
I don't know if you had in mind what Thum Insurance was asking for the same truck? who asked $8911 a year for more or less the same coverage – and then without coverage in Canada and Alaska. It makes a messy $5312 a year!
I don't know about your wallet, but this is a difference that no one can ignore.
After a few months of searching and checking every possible vehicle insurance line in the United States and Canada, I can confidently say that you have three options. These are Thumb Insurance (US), Seguro Gringo (Mexico) and Progressive (USA). In Canada itself, to my knowledge, there are no longer any insurers where you can go.
Thumb Insurance is recommended by many shipping companies as the go-to vehicle insurers for the US and Canada. They are fast and clear in communication, insure many types of vehicles, but the price is also absolutely right. Just count on $3.500 to $10.000 a year. And unless you have a standard factory motorhome, in most cases Thum Insurance doesn't cover you in Canada and Alaska, so you may need to take out additional insurance for that, which will only increase the price.
Seguro Gringo is in any case the easiest of the three insurers. They insure everything and hardly ask any questions. Price-wise, they fall between Thum Insurance and Progressive Insurance at about $2.000 a year. The convenience is of course worth something, but I am seriously concerned about coverage. The insured amounts are so low that it looks more like 'legally keeping your vehicle on the road', and that's it. The insured amounts are simply not realistic, should something really happen. They also operate from Mexico, so in the event of a possible conflict you will have to deal with Mexican law.
Progressive insurance is the absolute winner in my opinion. That is, if you manage to overcome all the barriers of Progressive. You must have a postal address in the United States and you cannot use the website without a VPN. For extra certainty, I also recommend that you ask customer service again for confirmation via Facebook Chat. Ask if what you are doing is OK. You are not a resident of the US and with a borrowed or rented postal address + VPN connection you circumvent the restrictions that the insurer uses on their website. Take screenshots of the confirmation you get.
Those willing to overcome the barriers of Progressive Insurance can easily save $2500 to $5500 a year. And that only on insuring your vehicle! It has taken me a lot of time over the past few weeks to figure this all out, but if I just look at our own quote and that of @familyeverywhere, we have already saved a sloppy 7500 euros together.
Those are results that personally make me really happy, and I hope you do too. Good luck, and see you in the next blog!