What will sailing away do to my car insurance?

Question: My wife and I will be spending a couple of years cruising on our sailboat. Are we going to be penalized when we want to get new car insurance?

Answer:

It was common in the not too distant past for insurers to penalize drivers who had a gap in their insurance coverage. However, this is generally no longer the case. As long as your absence from the world of insured drivers was not caused by such things as suspension of your licence because of a conviction, an unreported accident, or cancellation of your coverage for non-payment of premiums, you should encounter no problems at all. That wasn’t always the case. In Ontario, for example, there used to be a legal requirement that if you left the country for more than a year or so, you were treated as a new driver on your return – as if your previous record did not exist! Now, it’s up to the individual insurance company to decide, and most will not take that position if you had a good record both before and during your absence.

In order to minimize your chances of encountering any difficulties, let your insurer know your plans. It is a good idea to prepare a letter explaining that you’re ofon a world cruise and you are letting your coverage lapse. Let them know before you cancel your existing coverage. When it comes time to re- establish yourselves, your first choice for insurance should be either to approach your previous car insurance company, (assuming you were happy with them and had a good driving and claims record).

Alternatively, talk to any insurer with whom you already have a history, such as your home insurance carrier. You might even approach your current car insurance company to get some form of written statement from them about your (hopefully) stellar history with them. Ask for a letter that details your insurance company, policy number, the amount of time you were insured by them, and your claims history. You will need to satisfy any new insurer that you had insurance previously.

Taking these few simple precautions will go a long way to ease your return to insured driver status from ocean cruiser.