Owners of motor vehicles driving on the public roads of Canada are required to insure their automobiles. The auto insurance laws vary depending on the territory or providence in which one lives. Here is basic information concerning the car insurance required by the various governments within Canada.
When you purchase automobile insurance in Canada you should receive a Canadian Inter-Province Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card. This insurance card is also referred to as your insurance "pink card." If you have recently moved to Canada from the United States this card is comparable to the insurance card your American car insurance company would have previously given you while insured in the U.S.
The Pink Card should be honored as proof of your vehicle having car insurance anywhere within Canada. This card is thus a very important document that you should keep with you and supply to a police officer if requested. It is recommended to not leave your insurance card in your vehicle, just in case the vehicle is ever stolen.
In British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba you cannot obtain your vehicle registration until you provide proof of the necessary mandatory basic insurance being purchased. Again in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the government insurer provides the basic or required minimum car insurance policy. Both government insurers and private insurers can sell enhancements thus add extra coverages to your basic policy.
In Quebec, injury claims are covered by a government program. In Quebec, vehicle and property damage claims, as well as bodily injuries due to a collision outside of Quebec, are covered by private insurers. According to the Canadian government, the provinces and territories that are attended to by private insurance companies all must have standard terms and conditions listed within the insurance policy. Each territorial or provincial government though sets its own standards and minimum limits for the amount of liability coverage that motorists must buy.
Though provinces and territories legislate auto insurance policies and coverages there should be numerous choices of limits (above the mandatory amount), deductibles and other optional coverages available. So, as in many other nations, motor vehicle insurance coverage can vary between insured individuals. When in need of using your car insurance you will need to know what coverages you purchased and have on your policy.
In provinces where government insurers must provide the basic mandatory coverages insured usually do not receive a printed policy. Instead the vehicle registration itself stands as proof of insurance coverage. If additional, optional coverages were purchases as part of a policy bought by a non-government insurance carrier an extension policy should be issued. Documents outlining the coverages should also be received by the individual purchasing insurance.
Lawsuits for economic losses, exceeding the no-fault accident benefits of your insurance policy, are permitted everywhere except Manitoba and Quebec. In Ontario, your ability to sue for loss of income is subject to various conditions such as medical, rehabilitation and other related costs and only when the injury is termed to be very serious. In Saskatchewan, you may legally recover only with respect to the gross income losses that exceed a specified amount.
In Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba laws do not permit you to sue for pain and suffering due to a motor vehicle accident. Ontario allows lawsuits for injured persons but only if they sustain permanent serious disfigurement, impairment of important physical, psychological or mental functions or if the person is killed. A court in Ontario would assess the damages and a deductible would apply.
The automobile insurance system in Quebec is different than other areas. It has two main components - bodily injury and damage to property. Bodily injury is covered by a public administered plan while property damage is covered by private insurance companies. In Quebec and Ontario your insurer compensates you for the loss of use of automobile and the share of the damage caused to your vehicle when another driver is legally at fault. You thus deal with your own insurer and not the other party's insurance carrier. This is called direct compensation.
In Canada, accident benefits coverage is mandatory everywhere except Labrador and Newfoundland. Uninsured automobile vehicle protection is universal though. Accident benefits coverage compensates you and your passengers, regardless of fault, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Car insurance in Canada has a few universal coverages but for the most part motor vehicle insurance coverage varies greatly from province to province or territory. The basics of insurance might stay the same but certain variables and laws change. For more information on the area of Canada in which you live, or plan to move to, you can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
References for this article include the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Transport Canada which both have very helpful and informative websites if you wish to learn about Canadian insurance coverages as a whole or about a specific province or territory insurance system.