Think you can get away with driving with no insurance? Think again.
Although Canadian federal law doesn't prohibit this reckless action, the provincial laws do. When you're caught driving without mandatory automobile cover, you find yourself in a world of trouble.
You might expect a fine, but it goes much further than that. In fact, your decision drive uninsured affects everyone else in ways you might not expect.
Do you have the coverage required under the law? Keep reading to find out and see what risks are associated with having no insurance.
You don't want insurance. After all, you're a safe driver, and it's expensive.
Did you know that even being underinsured counts against you? It's true. Your cheap insurance policy may not stand up to the standards set out by the law.
For example, in Ontario, automobile insurance is governed by the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act of Ontario. Under the law, you're not allowed to drive a vehicle without proper insurance.
If you're a resident of Ontario, your policy must offer:
Ontario requires a substantial policy, but other provinces differ. Alberta requires only Public Liability and Property Damage (PLPD) insurance.
Does your policy include these coverage types as a baseline? If no, then you could still be in trouble.
To calm your concerns, give your insurance policy a read or call your insurance agent to make sure your plan is up to scratch.
Whether you drive underinsured or with no insurance, there are serious costs. Many people think about the penalties and fines only and weigh the risks. But there are costs even if you don't get caught.
Let's talk about the real (and hidden) costs of driving with no insurance.
One of the greatest misconceptions about penalties for being uninsured is that it's just another traffic ticket. Getting caught without insurance is a serious offense across Canada - and you'll pay dearly wherever you are.
Your first "Driving without Insurance" offense in Alberta will set you back at least $2,500. If you're caught again - you'll go to jail.
The same is true in British Columbia where fines range from $300 to $2,000 and multiple convictions with no remorse could send you to jail.
The cost in Ontario? You'll receive a minimum fine of $5,000 on your FIRST conviction. The penalty is only capped at $25,000. If caught again, you'll pay $10,000 - $50,000 upon conviction.
Ontario also assesses another fine upon conviction called the Provincial Offences Act. It adds another 25% surcharge to your fine.
If you're subjected to a $10,000 penalty, you'll pay another $2,500 in taxes for a total of $12,500.
Proceeds from the Provincial Offences Act are sent to the province to support victims of crime - it's called the victim fine surcharge.
There's one more thing you have to know: you will be convicted.
Unlike traffic violations, which you can fight in court, driving with no insurance charges almost guarantee a conviction. Canadian courts don't take the issue lightly: it is your responsibility as a vehicle owner to insurance it.
If you don't buy insurance, prepare to pay.
If losing a serious chunk of change wasn't enough, prepare to lose your license and your car as well.
In Ontario, a judge is allowed to suspend your license for a maximum of one year and impound your car for a max of three months.
Insurance companies hate risky drivers. Driving an uninsured vehicle is right up there with distracted driving. It's high-risk and ends in disaster.
Getting insurance after you've been cited for going without will cost you in your premiums - and you will need to buy. The court may demand proof of it to minimize your fine.
Plus, when more people drive with unnecessary risk, rates go up for everyone.
Peace officers in northern provinces like Labrador and Newfoundland ticket hundreds of uninsured drivers every year. Indeed, 2,100 uninsured drivers are involved in collisions in Ontario every year.
Uninsured drivers are everywhere - and they raise insurance rates for everyone else.
Not only do insurance premiums account for all the drivers who inevitably go without, but an interaction with one of those drivers raises rates for everyone else.
If you're caught in an accident with someone who isn't covered - and the accident is their fault - you can't make a claim on their insurance. Making a claim on your insurance policy often drives up your premium, and it's a hassle that shouldn't be your problem.
More accidents mean more premiums go up.
All Canadians pay more because some don't want to pay their fair share.
Life is unpredictable. Accidents are just that - unexpected. While you can do your best to prepare for the eventuality, the truth is that accidents are always expensive.
Avoiding insurance means saving money in the short term. But if you get in an accident and you're uninsured, the other driver can take you to court.
Driving with no insurance is frowned upon in the courts, and if the accident was your fault, judges won't necessarily look kindly on you.
It's possible that you could end up paying damages for years after the accident. But you don't need to do that - a good insurance policy means only paying the deductible when the unexpected happens.
Don't pay for an accident for the rest of your life. Protect yourself and other drivers today.
Automobile insurance isn't cheap, but neither is going without. Police pull over uninsured drivers every day, and if you live in a province like Ontario, you'll be slapped with a stiff fine.
When all Canadians do their part, they can bring premiums down and make insurance more affordable for everyone.
Do your bit to help your neighbor and yourself.
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