In Canada, you have a legal requirement to carry the minimum mandatory insurance coverage to drive on public roads. This coverage provides you, your passengers and others on the road around you with financial protection. But unfortunately, accidents do happen, and sometimes they happen with people illegally behind the wheel. Here is some information to help you understand what happens when someone is uninsured while driving in Ontario.
What is an uninsured driver?
An uninsured driver is someone who is driving a car and does not carry the minimum mandatory insurance coverage. It’s illegal for you to be driving without insurance, and there are serious repercussions. Therefore, as the owner of the vehicle, you are responsible for insuring it. It’s equally important that you and anyone driving your car has a valid driver’s licence. As the owner, you must contact your insurance company to let them know of anyone who may be driving your car on a regular basis.
If you are planning to drive someone else’s car, be sure you have the owner’s permission to use the vehicle. Additionally, you should have adequate insurance coverage.
Fines for driving without insurance
Although it is not a criminal offence, section 2(1) of Ontario’s Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act states, “subject to the regulations, no owner or lessee of a motor vehicle shall operate [it] or cause or permit the motor vehicle to be operated on a highway unless the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.” While you are not committing a criminal offence and no demerit points are involved, you’ll face some serious penalties:
- Your fine for driving without a license starts at $5,000.
- The Ontario car insurance regulator, FSRAO, will charge an additional 25% surcharge to your fine.
- Your license suspension lasts for a minimum of 30 days and up to a year.
- Possible impoundment of your vehicle for three months.
An accident with an uninsured driver
One of the coverages in a standard auto policy in Ontario is called “uninsured auto”. This type of auto coverage protects you in the event of an accident with a “hit-and-run” or driver who is unidentifiable. It offers you protection to a limit of $200,000 for damage to your vehicle (minus a deductible). However, you can increase the limit if you wish. Your insurer will pay for the damage to your vehicle, any injuries you may suffer and any other claim expenses.
Important: If you find out the other driver is illegally driving without insurance, you must contact the authorities. The procedure to follow is the same as with someone that has insurance. Review what you should do if you find yourself in an accident by clicking here.
Coverage available for accidents with uninsured drivers
Ontario is a No-Fault Insurance province. If there’s an accident where an uninsured driver is at-fault, you will have coverage through your own insurance policy.
If you or your passengers suffer injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver, the Accident Benefits portion of your policy will cover your medical expenses. This will be up to a limit of $200,000 on a standard insurance policy. If you have the Family Protection Endorsement (Form 44R) on your policy, both you and your family will have coverage. You can speak to an isure representative for more details surrounding this endorsement.
Uninsured Automobile coverage on your auto policy covers damages to your car, as well as other property damage. Depending on the province, there can be limits to how much coverage is available, as well as a deductible.
Hit and runs
If you are in an accident with an unknown or hit-and-run driver, your injuries or your passenger’s are typically covered under your policy’s Accidents Benefits section. For damage to your property (including your vehicle), coverage is dependent on whether you have collision coverage on your vehicle.
I got in an accident without insurance. Now what?
Deciding to cancel your insurance coverage or simply letting it lapse accidentally is very ill-advised. If you are the uninsured driver with involvement in an accident, you will be held personally responsible. This will include responsibility for all the repairs to your vehicle, as well as any medical bills. You will also be financially responsible to pay for the damages to any other vehicle(s) in the accident. This will apply even if you’re not at-fault for the collision. Depending on the amount of damages or type of injuries, it can be financially crippling to some.
How does a “driving without insurance” conviction affect insurance moving forward?
As we’ve shown above, fines and penalties you will be guilty of for driving without insurance are serious. This conviction stays on your driving record for three years. Not surprisingly, your conviction will affect the cost of your insurance in the future. Your insurance company will treat your conviction as seriously as a conviction for impaired driving. It is possible you may find:
- Many insurance companies refusing to insure you.
- You are classified as a high-risk driver, which makes it difficult to obtain insurance.
- If you do find an insurer that will offer you a policy, the cost won’t be cheap. It may perhaps cost thousands of dollars per year for insurance.
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your auto policy will offer you the coverage you need. However, if you let your own insurance lapse, there are some very real consequences. Driving without insurance is not worth the risk to save money on your monthly expenses, and may cost you more than you can afford. In the long run, it may prevent you from securing insurance coverage in the future. Speak with one of our isure brokers to find the best auto coverage to suit your needs!