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Living the Van Life? Better Check Your Coverage

May 1, 2019
3 mins
Friends sitting outside and hanging out in the park

The "Van Life" movement has surged as a popular alternative to conventional living around the world, and Canada is no exception. Search the internet and you will find hundreds of blogs and news stories about "van-lifers" who traded their pricey city apartments for converted vans and an adventurous life on the open road.

Van dwellers make their way from provincial campground to the next in camper vans and RVs configured for full-time living. The movement is largely made up of millennials who are open to non-traditional lifestyles and able to make a living as artists, freelancers or remote workers. Many also have embraced van life for financial reasons, whether they are looking to save money or have been priced out of home ownership.

As exciting as the notion of living such a free-wheeling life may be, an important question comes to mind. How do van dwellers insure their vehicle and their things?

The Perils of Van Life

Van life may look glamorous on Instagram, but it isn't always as easy going as it might look at first glance. Vanlifers forgo many conveniences of daily life like daily showers, private bathrooms, and plentiful wardrobes. Many van-lifers travel with their spouse or partner, and the lack of privacy can be a point of occasional strife.

But more than that, they tend to rack up lots of miles on their vehicles. That means they need to contend with constant maintenance, frequent oil changes, and potential breakdowns. Traffic accidents are an ever-looming possibility, which means van dwellers need to be prepared for any contingency. There is also the risk that you might go on a hike and come back to find that someone has stolen your van and all of your stuff.

Van Life Insurance Options

Van life is a relatively new concept, which means it can be a challenge to find a comprehensive insurance solution that protects your vehicle and your stuff at the same time. That means many van-lifers will need to consider a few different options.

First and foremost, van-lifers will need to have an auto policy that protects the vehicle and provides medical coverage for its inhabits in the event of an accident. However, auto policies generally will not cover personal possessions while inside the vehicle.

That leaves van dwellers with a couple of different options for covering their belongings. If they continue to own a home or rent an apartment, the personal property in their van could be covered by a homeowners policy or renter's policy. But most van-lifers don't have the luxury of maintaining a home or apartment, and live and travel in a van full-time.

The next best choice depends on the value of the personal property they need to be covered and the cost of premiums and deductibles they'll have to pay. One option is to take out a travel insurance policy that covers personal property. Another option would be to cover certain individual items, say a laptop computer, with a specialty gadget insurance policy – similar to an extended warranty that covers theft or accidental damage. If the insured's vehicle is an actual RV, as opposed to a converted van, then they may be able to add full-timer liability coverage to their existing RV insurance policy to insure their personal property.

If you are thinking about joining the van life movement your best bet is to be upfront with potential insurance companies about your plan so that they can provide you with the best options. Be prepared to a few different quotes and compare a lot of different policy options. is a great place to start if you are looking for an auto policy or travel policy to help you start your big adventure!


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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