Is Driving Without Insurance Illegal?
You just bought your first car. And it seems like the perfect time to go for a short drive. A few minutes later, you are pulled over. And you realize you do not have a valid insurance policy. You may have forgotten to renew your policy or are switching to another insurance provider. But is it illegal to drive without insurance?
Yes. Driving without insurance is illegal. Every province and territory requires drivers to demonstrate financial responsibility for liability or damages in the event of an accident. Apart from legal penalties, you can be sued by the other driver for medical bills and vehicle damages that they incur from an accident.
What are the consequences of driving without insurance?
Different provinces have varying road and insurance provisions. However, most are not lenient to drivers caught without insurance. Among the consequences that you may face if you drive without insurance include:
- Licence suspension- Driving with insurance may warrant licence suspension. In addition, you may get a ticket. Different provinces and territories have varying rules pertaining to licence suspension. Reinstating a licence can be expensive not to mention the additional fines and the cost of purchasing an auto insurance policy.
- Hefty fines- A person caught driving without insurance can face substantial fines. In Ontario, a driver can face fines between $5,000 and $25,000 for a first offence and between $10,000 and $50,000 for any subsequent offence. In addition to these fines, the driver will be required to pay a victim surcharge fee.
- Financial consequences- Fines for driving without insurance can be expensive. However, the cost of an accident that occurs when driving without insurance can be even higher, especially where an accident involves extensive damage. And as the driver, you are liable for the loss incurred, often referred to as third-party liability. These costs can even drive you to bankruptcy. In a case where a person dies from an accident caused by a driver while uninsured, the driver’s liability will even be higher.
- Vehicle impoundment- Another potential consequence of driving without insurance is vehicle impoundment. In Ontario, the driver’s vehicle could be impounded for a maximum of three months.
What happens if you are involved in a car accident without insurance?
Where you are at fault for the accident
If you are an uninsured motorist, being involved in an at-fault accident is a serious situation. Not only will you be required to cater to any bodily injuries or property damage incurred but will also be considered a high-risk driver. Do not be surprised when your insurance rates go above the regular market rate. Also, expect to be charged with legal penalties especially where other parties sustain bodily injuries. As well, the infraction can stay on your records for years, making it difficult to get insurance.
Where you are not at fault
Different provinces have varying laws regarding this. While some limit the compensation an uninsured motorist can get if they are involved in a not-at-fault accident, others do not offer any compensation. Determining who is at fault for an accident can be difficult, hence the need for insurance. For instance, insured motorists use a representative or claims adjuster to speak to the other insurance provider and pursue insurance funds.
Living in a no-fault province
If you live in a province that has adopted no-fault insurance, like Ontario, every driver is required to file property damage or bodily injury insurance claims under their insurer. If you are an uninsured motorist, you will be forced to cater to medical bills and vehicle repairs/replacements out of pocket. If you were wondering whether you can drive without insurance, we have seen the consequences that could arise from that decision. And now, let’s focus on getting you that insurance policy. If you do not know where to start, here are factors that you should consider before purchasing auto insurance.
- Coverage- Auto-insurance coverage differs with insurance providers, provincial laws and even a person’s financial capabilities. However, you need to ensure that you check and compare the coverage offered before purchasing car insurance. While basic car insurance is mandatory for all road users, different provinces have varying requirements.
- Policy terms- You may be in a rush to get auto insurance. However, if you do not check the fine print of your insurance policy, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when making a claim. Ensure to understand all terms, including exclusions and inclusions.
- Claims procedure- Insurance aims to safeguard our finances in case an accident occurs. But that should not come with an extra headache. Some people dread making claims due to unclear and lengthy procedures. You can avoid this by checking the claims procedures before committing to an insurance provider.
- Brand reputation- Brand reputation also comes into play when buying auto insurance. Getting insurance from a reputable brand increases the probability of the company delivering as per the policy. If you are unsure of which brand to consider, look for reviews online or among friends and family. This way, you have a better chance of getting a great insurance deal with a reputable company.
- Add-on coverage options- There are various ways you can use to strengthen your car insurance, such as additional insurance. Additional insurance benefits such as roadside assistance, loss of use and claims protection are just some of the add-on coverages that you can consider, depending on your insurance needs. While add-on insurance offers more protection against perils, be sure not to over-insure since you may end up paying for insurance that you will never use.
- Discounts- Do not shy away from asking for discounts from insurance providers. For instance, some insurers may offer discounts for members who install anti-theft devices. These discounts can significantly reduce the cost of your insurance.
So, can you drive without insurance? The answer is: it is illegal. The consequences range from hefty fines to licence suspension and more. Should the driver be involved in an accident while uninsured, there will be legal and financial repercussions that could last for years to come.