If you own a vehicle of any kind, you probably know that insurance is required by law. Plans vary widely depending on your vehicle, how you use it and where you live. Here’s what you need to know to get the vehicle coverage that’s right for you.
Let’s start with where you live
Car insurance in Canada varies by province. Where you live determines what coverage you need and who you buy your insurance from.
If you live in Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island or the Yukon
You can buy all car insurance from private insurance companies, such as The Co-operators.
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If you live in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Manitoba*:
You are required to buy basic auto insurance that covers injury to yourself and passengers from government-run public insurance systems:
- British Columbia – Autoplan
- Manitoba – Autopac
- Saskatchewan – SGI
You then have the choice of buying optional insurance coverage, such as coverage for theft or damage to your car, from private insurance companies or the public insurance system in your province. Shop around to see where you can get the best value for your dollar.
If you live in Quebec:
*Note: The Co-operators sells government-issued ICBC autoplan insurance in British Columbia, and government-issued MPI auto insurance in select agencies in Manitoba. Extension policy offered in Saskatchewan.
You are required to buy basic injury coverage from the government-owned Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). Private insurance companies offer plans to cover automobile property damage and injury claims arising from accidents outside of Quebec.
For more information about insurance requirements in each province and territory, see the Insurance by Province chart.
What your auto insurance plan must include
While insurance plans do vary by province, these are the most common types of insurance you must have before you can use your vehicle.
Liability: If you are in a car accident and you are held legally liable for other people’s injuries, or for damage to another person’s vehicle or property, your insurance company will pay up to the total amount listed on your policy. You are responsible for amounts above that limit.
Accident Benefits: This covers medical expenses not covered by a provincial health plan, plus loss of income as the result of an auto accident. In some provinces, you may be entitled to additional benefits if you are someone's caregiver. Accident Benefits are paid regardless of who was at fault in an accident.
Uninsured Automobile: This is financial coverage for costs related to injury or death if you’re in an accident caused by another driver who is either uninsured or unidentified, as in a hit and run. Damage to your vehicle is only covered if the driver is identified and uninsured.
Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD): Available only in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, this covers the cost of loss or damage to your car in an accident for which you were not entirely responsible. To qualify, the other driver has to be identified, insured and found to be at least partially at fault. In some provinces, you can no longer sue another person for damage to your car.
Your insurance company will look at the degree to which you are responsible for the accident and your deductible to determine how much compensation you will receive. You will be paid if you were partly or not at all responsible for the accident. Be sure to review your auto insurance policy for specific details, restrictions and exclusions. All insurance claims are subject to a deductible.
Value-added coverage for your auto insurance plan
You may want additional coverage to ensure you’re fully protected in the event of an automobile accident, theft or damage. Here are some coverage options to consider.
Loss or Damage
Collision: You’re covered for the cost of repairs or replacement of your car in the event of a collision where you are partially or totally at fault.
Specified Perils: This covers you for specific perils such as fire, lightning, theft*, windstorm, earthquake, hail, explosion, riot and others.
Comprehensive: With this option, you’re covered for any threat or danger other than collision, including theft*, damage or loss caused by vandalism, projectiles, and falling or flying objects such as stones kicked up by a truck in front of you. The important thing to remember is that this coverage applies to your vehicle only, not you or your passengers.
*Comprehensive and Specified Perils do not insure your car against theft in two instances: if a member of your household steals your car, or if an employee whose job involved using or maintaining the car steals your vehicle.
All Perils: This is the most complete Loss or Damage coverage available. All Perils combines Collision and Comprehensive coverage and protects against theft by a person who lives in your household or an employee who steals your vehicle.
The most popular combination is Collision and Comprehensive coverage.
An endorsement is optional coverage you can add to your insurance policy, including the following.
Accident Forgiveness: If you have this coverage on your policy, your first accident is forgiven. That means your insurance rates will not be affected, provided you have been licensed and accident-free for six years.
Loss of use: If your car were damaged in an accident, how would you get to work the next day? This endorsement covers the costs of temporary transportation such as renting a car or taking a bus if your car is stolen, damaged or destroyed. You will be covered, up to the maximum amount specified in your policy, until your car is recovered, repaired or replaced.
Legal liability for damage to non-owned automobiles: This endorsement will cover you if you damage a car you don’t own while it was in your care and control, such as a rental car.
Family protection endorsement: You receive additional benefits if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay a claim for injury or death. This only applies if the other driver has less insurance coverage than you.
Limited waiver of depreciation: This coverage protects against the loss of value or depreciation of a new car if, as a result of an accident, your car is beyond repair and must be replaced. This coverage is only available during the first two years of a vehicle lease or ownership. You could receive an amount up to the price you paid for the vehicle or the manufacturer’s suggested price.
You can only add this endorsement if you have insured your vehicle with Collision and Comprehensive coverage, Collision and Specified Perils coverage or All Perils coverage.
Additional coverage: You can also buy insurance for a stereo or other components that have been installed in your vehicle.
How to pay for your auto insurance
You can purchase auto insurance for your vehicle by cash, personal cheque, certified cheque, money order, Visa, MasterCard or talk to your agent about a monthly payment plan.
To learn more about car insurance, visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Get an online quote right now for your auto insurance, or find an agent near you to get started on creating the right policy for you. Once you have insurance with us, you’ll be able to make a claim quickly and easily using your iPhone.
*Coverage is not available in Quebec.