Right hand drive (RHD) insurance in Ontario

7 minute read Published on May 8, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Driver dressed bright orange jacket driving a modern off road right hand drive RHD car on the mountain green forest country road.

If you drive a car that was manufactured with right-hand drive (RHD) and you want to import it into Ontario, you will need to purchase car insurance to protect you. But what is right-hand drive (RHD) insurance, and how does it differ from regular auto insurance? We answer these questions and more below.

What are RHD cars?

Before we explain what RHD car insurance is, let’s provide a brief overview of RHD cars. Right-hand drive cars are cars where the steering wheel is located on the right side of the car. Thus, the driver side of the car is on the right, and the passenger side of the car is on the left. This is the opposite of cars in Canada, where the driver sits on the left and the passenger on the right. RHD cars often come from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, and Ireland. Since right-hand drive cars are not available in Canada, you will likely need to import your car into Canada if you wish to drive it here.

Importing RHD vehicles into Canada

Before you assume or attempt to import a right-hand vehicle into Canada, you will first need to find out if importing this type of car into Canada is legal. Importing any item, including a car, from another country can be a tricky and lengthy process, as you must ensure that you are in compliance with all Canadian standards and regulations, and this includes safety requirements.

Contact Transport Canada or visit their website to find out precisely what standards must be met and how to obtain the required permits.

Key considerations before importing a RHD vehicle into Canada

The last thing you want to do is waste your time trying to import a right-hand drive car into Canada. So, before you begin the process of importing one, read through the list of considerations below:

RHD vehicle insurance policy

First, you should find out if you can even obtain a car insurance policy for your RHD car. Keep in mind that auto insurance is required in Ontario and all Canadian provinces and territories. So, one of the first steps you should take is reaching out to an insurance broker to find out if it’s even possible to obtain coverage for a right-hand drive vehicle where you live.

Vehicle registration

Next, when importing a vehicle into Ontario, you will also need to register it with the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario. Part of this process will involve getting a licence plate. You should be prepared to provide ample information about yourself and the vehicle in order to register it legally.

RHD car parts

Another consideration is the fact that RHD car parts and repairs may not be as readily available in Canada. Since the vast majority of cars on the road are not right-hand drive vehicles, you might find it challenging to have your car repaired locally if something goes wrong while in Canada. Thus, before importing an RHD car, you should do your due diligence by calling local mechanics where you plan to move to and find out if any services are offered for right-hand drive vehicles. While you’re at it, you should also ask local mechanics if they’ve ever had any trouble sourcing replacement parts for right-hand drive cars.

Driving capabilities

Sitting on the right-hand side of the car could impact your vision and general ability to drive in Canada, especially when making left turns. We recommend practicing extreme caution when you first start driving a right-hand car in North America.

Safety regulations

Next, you will need to make sure that your right-hand vehicle complies with all safety and environmental regulations set by Transport Canada. For example, your car should contain airbags, child safety seat anchor systems if necessary, and daytime running lights.

Limited resale value

Given that right-hand drive cars are far from the norm in Canada, you may also want to consider the fact that the resale value of your car might be severely diminished in Canada. If there came a time when you decided that you wanted to sell your RHD car, you would likely have a much smaller pool of buyers in North America, which could negatively affect the resale value.

Applicable customs and duties

Lastly, you should consider the overall cost of importing a vehicle into Canada, including customs, duties, taxes, and fees. Take care to research these additional costs in advance so that you know exactly how much you will need to pay to import your RHD car into the country.

Which RHD vehicles are legal in Ontario?

Currently, Ontario, along with the rest of Canada, does not allow any new RHD vehicles to be manufactured in the country or imported into it. That said, this restriction does not apply to vehicles that are over 15 years old. This means that if you wish to import a classic, antique, or collectible car that features right-hand drive, you may be allowed to do so. However, again, you will need the right type of auto insurance for it, which brings us to the next section of this article.

What is an RHD car insurance policy?

Now that you know a bit more about what an RHD car is, let’s dive into the topic of RHD vehicle insurance. As you might suspect, RHD car insurance is a type of auto insurance specially designed for those who drive RHD cars. That said, RHD car insurance looks a lot like regular car insurance. Since auto insurance is a legal requirement in Ontario, all cars, including RHD cars, need to have car insurance. The car insurance coverage that you buy for your RHD car must meet the minimum coverage requirements in Ontario.

Basic RHD car insurance in Ontario will include the following:

However, drivers can also opt for enhanced insurance, which includes the aforementioned coverages alongside extra protection, such as:

If you are driving an RHD car in Canada that is a collectible or antique, extra protection in the form of comprehensive coverage is usually recommended. This is due to the fact that collectible cars are usually very valuable, and they may not be driven for the whole year. If you want your vintage RHD car to be protected while in storage, you will need to add comprehensive coverage to your policy.

How much does RHD car insurance cost?

The cost of RHD car insurance varies between policyholders. Rates are based on several factors, including where you live, how long you’ve been driving, your claims history, your driving record, the make and model of the right-hand car you drive, and how often you drive your vehicle.

Generally speaking, you can expect right-hand drive car insurance policies to cost more than regular car insurance policies, even if you have a clean record. Rates can run 50% higher than what you would pay to insure a left-hand drive vehicle.

Is it challenging to find RHD insurance in Canada?

It can be. This is mainly due to the fact that all RHD vehicles are imported, and modern RHD cars are banned from being imported into Canada. This is because RHD vehicles are not designed for driving in North America and are not even available for purchase locally in Canada. In many cases, they don’t adhere to Canadian safety and environmental standards.

For this reason, not all insurance companies offer car insurance for RHD vehicles. If you have an RHD car that you wish to have insured, reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our licensed insurance advisors can do some research and get in touch with some of the leading car insurance companies in Canada to find out which ones offer RHD car insurance policies.

What influences RHD car insurance rates?

As mentioned above, a number of factors will influence RHD car insurance rates, just as many factors influence regular car insurance rates. However, beyond the usual factors like age and driving experience, there are a few additional vehicle-specific factors that will be considered when insuring an RHD car. They include the following:

Vehicle modifications

If you’ve made any modifications to your RHD vehicle, you will need to inform your insurance provider. Certain types of modifications can impact the value and safety of the car, which in turn, can affect the premium you pay.

The cost of repairs and replacements

Since RHD cars are not domestic vehicles, obtaining replacement parts and finding a licensed mechanic who is trained in serving RHD cars might be more difficult. In most cases, it will also be more expensive, which can drive your auto insurance premium up.

Sightlines while driving

Auto insurance premiums for RHD vehicles may be higher since drivers may not be used to different sightlines. This could put you at a greater risk of an accident, at least until you have a few years of experience driving in Canada.

Safety tips for driving a right-hand car in Canada

Before you hit the road in your newly imported RHD car, read through the following list of safe driving tips:

Check your mirrors regularly

It is good practice to check your rearview and side view mirrors regularly, but glancing into the passenger side mirror is going to be especially important when driving an RHD car. You should make a habit of looking into this mirror whenever you are merging into a left lane or passing another vehicle.

Notice the curb and use it as a marker

When you first start driving in Canada, pay close attention to the curb. If you can maintain a safe and consistent distance from the curb, you can also maintain a safe and consistent distance from the cars in the next lane over.

Practice makes perfect

Just like if you were learning to drive altogether, practice and don’t rush the process. We recommend starting out on small, residential roads or even in parking lots until you feel more comfortable travelling at higher speeds or in high-traffic areas.

Contact BrokerLink to learn more

Get ready to find out all there is to know about RHD insurance in Ontario, including how much it costs and where you can find it. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can answer all of your burning questions and more. Of course, we can also help you find a quality policy that includes required coverage like liability car insurance, as well as the extra coverage you want.

Get started today by speaking with a licensed insurance advisor at BrokerLink over the phone, in person, or online. You can also request a free RHD car insurance quote using the online quote tool on our website.

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