Is driving without insurance illegal?

Oct 29, 2019 9 minute read

Is driving without insurance illegal?

In Canada, it is illegal to drive or operate a vehicle without having an insurance policy. This law can be found under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. Although it is not a criminal offense, meaning that violating this law will not go on your criminal record, there are many other serious consequences that you will face if you are caught driving without insurance.

Operating a vehicle without insurance not only puts you at risk, but also any of your passengers and all other drivers on the road. This law is in place in order to keep everyone on the road as safe as possible.

Is driving without insurance common?

While some people may not think that this is a big concern in Canada, there are more drivers without insurance than you may expect. In Ontario alone, approximately two per cent of all cars on the road are uninsured. Considering the fact that there are around 8.5 million drivers in the province, this means that about 170,000 of these cars do not have insurance.

What happens if I get caught driving without insurance?

If you are pulled over by a police officer, and are unable to present them with your policy, you may be charged. There are two different offenses that an officer can charge you with in a situation like this. They are:

  1. Operating, or allowing a motor vehicle to be operated, without insurance
  2. Failure to show proof of insurance upon a police officer’s request

What are the consequences of these charges?

Once charged, there are a number of consequences that you may face, such as:

  • Hefty fines
  • Suspension of your license for a minimum of 30 days, and up to one year
  • Having your vehicle impounded for a maximum of three months

These charges may also make it tough for you to actually get insurance after being convicted. Most drivers with this on their record will only be able to get a car insurance policy though “high-risk” insurance companies. These companies specialize in offering coverage to customers with less than satisfactory driving records. However, companies like this often charge very high premium rates. Depending on how bad your driving record is, these rates can be as much as $10,000 a year.

How much can I get fined for driving without insurance?

The amount of your fine depends on whether this is your first offence, or if you’ve been caught and convicted before. For first timers, the minimum fine is $5000 and can be as high as $25,000. If you are caught driving without insurance again after this first offense, you can be fined anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000.

Sometimes an additional 25 per cent surcharge under the Provincial Offense Act also can be added to your total fine while in court. This Act is in place to provide services that support victims who were impacted by crimes due to similar situations. Depending on your initial charge, this fine can range from an extra $1,250 to $12,500.

Can I borrow someone else’s car without my own insurance?

In most cases, it is completely fine to drive someone else’s car, as long as they have their own insurance policy for the vehicle. This is because the policy follows the vehicle, not the driver. The coverage on each policy will extend to protect anyone who is driving the vehicle as a result. You do not need your own insurance.

One important thing of note is to make sure to keep track of how frequently you drive this other vehicle. If you only borrow it a couple times a year, that is totally okay. However, say you drive this car every other weekend or so, you may need to be included on the policy as a secondary driver. Anyone who borrows a vehicle on a regular basis needs to have their name on the insurance policy in order to be covered.

What happens if I get into a car accident without having insurance?

If you are involved in any sort of accident without having insurance, you will be held personally responsible for all costs associated with both vehicles. Costs that you may be required to take care of can include repairs for your car, repairs for the other vehicle involved and any medical bills resulting from the accident.

You also may be facing numerous fines and penalties for driving without insurance, and could possibly be involved in lawsuit. The other driver, or their insurance company, have the grounds to sue you for being involved in an accident and not having an insurance policy, as this puts them at more of a risk when driving.

What happens if someone without insurance hits me?

It is estimated that there are over 2000 uninsured vehicles involved in accidents in Ontario on a yearly basis. If you end up in the unfortunate situation of getting into an accident with one of these vehicles, you do not have to worry. As long as you have your own coverage, you are protected in this type of situation. This is because of a type of mandatory coverage on your policy called “Uninsured Automobile”. This coverage makes it so your insurance company will pay for the damages, injuries and other expenses associated with this kind of accident.

What are the minimum requirements for car insurance coverage in Ontario?

As stated above, one of the mandatory coverages in Ontario is the “Uninsured Automobile” coverage. There are also three other types of coverage that are required by law on an automobile policy in this province. They are:

Third-Party Liability

This will protect you in the event that someone is injured or killed, or if there is any damage to their property. It will also cover you in the case of a lawsuit against you, and may pay for the costs of settling the claims.

Statutory Accidents Benefits

This section of your policy is in place to protect you if you’re injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. Some aspects that this coverage could cover can include:

  • Medical treatments
  • Non-earner and income replacement benefits
  • Rehabilitation and attendant care
  • Primary caregiver benefit
  • Lost educational expenses

Direct Compensation/Property Damage

If you are involved in an accident where someone else is at fault, this coverage will protect you. You may be covered for the damages to your vehicle and its contents, as well as for loss of use of the vehicle or its contents. Although the damage was caused by someone else, you will collect the compensation directly from your insurance provider.

However, there are a few limitations to this coverage, and it will only apply if these conditions are met:

  • The accident occurred in Ontario
  • There was a minimum of one other vehicle involved
  • At least one of the other vehicles has insurance with a provider licensed in Ontario

Conclusion

Driving without insurance is dangerous for everyone involved. Not only will it impact the safety of yourself and others, but it could also break your bank, as the costs involved with this act can be extreme.

Have more questions? Get in touch with one of our licensed insurance professionals. We are always ready to answer any and all insurance related questions!