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Should you be driving without insurance in Ontario?

Published on Oct 11, 2018 | Last updated Feb 3, 2021 5 minute read

Should you be driving without insurance in Ontario?

Driving without insurance is more common than you might think. In fact, an estimated 2% of all drivers on the road in Ontario do not have car insurance.

Consider that there are approximately 8.5 million registered drivers in the province (according to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario). That means there are around 170,000 drivers on the road right now who are driving without insurance in Ontario. That’s a lot of uninsured drivers!

That doesn’t even take into consideration the unlicensed drivers who are not registered, and who are obviously driving without insurance too!

UNINSURED DRIVERS ARE A HUGE CONCERN

Let’s put the numbers above into perspective. 170,000 uninsured drivers is more than the entire population of Barrie, and more than double the population of Newmarket. Now, just imagine that every driver in both of those cities was driving around with no car insurance. It’s scary to think that there are actually that many drivers out there right now who do not have car insurance.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET CAUGHT DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE IN ONTARIO?

Driving without insurance is not a criminal charge in Canada, but it is a serious offence and does come with severe consequences. If you’re caught driving without insurance, your car could be impounded for up to 3 months and your license could be suspended for up to 1 year.

You’ll also be facing some pretty significant fines for driving without insurance.

What are the fines?

  • For a 1st conviction – $5,000 to $25,000 fine
  • For a 2nd conviction – $10,000 to $50,000 fine
  • Any subsequent convictions could result in fines up to $50,000

Will you be able to get insurance in the future?

Everyone can get insurance. In fact, any driver who has a valid license and a vehicle to insure can get car insurance. That’s because car insurance is mandatory. Which means there has to be an insurance option for every driver regardless of their past driving record or level of experience. It makes sense right?

However, this doesn’t mean that your insurance will be affordable. In fact, drivers who get a serious conviction like driving without insurance may be forced to get car insurance through a “high risk” insurance company for a few years. These are companies who specialize in offering insurance to drivers who have less than stellar driving records.

But high risk also means high premiums. In some cases, rates can be as high as $10,000 a year with high risk markets, depending on just how bad your driving record is. That’s a lot of money for anyone to pay. Especially if you’ve just forked over $5,000 to $50,000 to pay a fine.

So although you will still qualify for car insurance after a serious conviction like driving without insurance, you may not be able to afford it.

What happens if you get in an accident, but you don’t have car insurance?

If you crash an uninsured car you’re in for a big headache. If there are any injuries or fatalities, well things just got even worse for you. As an uninsured driver, you’ll be left paying for everything out of your own pocket.

Damage to your car

It can cost a lot to repair a vehicle after an accident. That’s why so many drivers choose to purchase physical damage coverage on their car insurance policy. Without insurance, you will have to pay for all the damage out of your own pocket. Even if the other driver is at-fault in the accident.

Damage to other car(s)

One of the great things about car insurance is that it covers the damage you cause to other driver’s cars in an accident. Without insurance, you will be stuck paying to for all the repairs to any other vehicle involved in the accident. So if you’re rolling the dice and driving without insurance, fingers crossed you hit a Honda and not a Porsche!

Injuries to yourself and others

Car accidents can result in serious injuries. In some cases, injuries sustained in an accident can be life altering. Many times, accident victims are unable to work for an extended period of time. In some cases, they may never work again. Although OHIP covers a lot of standard care, there are still plenty of additional medical expenses you could incur that are not covered. Here are a few common examples:

  • physiotherapy
  • chiropractor
  • massage therapy
  • prescription medicine
  • attendant care

Lawsuits

If you cause an accident as an uninsured driver, there’s a good chance you’re going to get sued. Either by the other driver, or their insurance company, or both. Someone has to pay for the physical damage and injuries sustained. Since you don’t have car insurance, all of those expenses become your responsibility. Including hiring your own lawyer, which is a huge expense!

WHAT IF YOU’RE IN AN ACCIDENT AND THE OTHER DRIVER IS UNINSURED?

As long as you have your own auto insurance, then you have nothing to worry about. Every insurance policy in Ontario has a mandatory coverage called uninsured automobile coverage to protect you in this exact situation. If the other driver is not insured, your insurance company will pay for the damage, injuries, and any other claim expenses. Then they will sue the other driver to get the money back.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE REQUIRED IN ONTARIO?

As you should know by now, car insurance is mandatory in Ontario. Every driver is required to at have at least the following minimum auto insurance coverage on their policy:

  • Third Party Liability – minimum of $200,000
  • Uninsured Automobile
  • Statutory Accident Benefits
  • Direct Compensation – Property Damage (DCPD)

The coverage above is technically the legal minimum to drive in Ontario, but there are many other coverage options available. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of you as a driver to make sure you have the coverage you need to protect yourself on the road.

WHAT IF MY VEHICLE IS LEASED OR FINANCED?

It’s worth noting that if you lease or finance your vehicle then you will require additional insurance coverage. In this case, you technically do not own the vehicle. This means that the “owner” of the car (the finance or leasing company) can make it mandatory that you carry certain coverage with specific limits. For example, your agreement may state that you must have a minimum of $1 million liability, plus collision and comprehensive coverage with a maximum $1000 deductible. This protects their interest in the vehicle.

Driving and car insurance go hand in hand. Everyone knows that driving without insurance is illegal in Ontario, many drivers continue to hit the road without the mandatory insurance coverage.

But those drivers aren’t just taking a risk of getting a fine. They’ll lose a lot more if they get in an accident. If they are responsible for an accident resulting in the death or serious injury of another driver, they could face huge lawsuits, and even jail time.

Further, they are going to make getting car insurance in the future a lot more expensive for themselves.

It is your responsibility as a driver to ensure you have the coverage you need on the road. If you have questions about car insurance, getting the advice of a licensed professional is always a good idea. An insurance broker can provide you with expert advice and guidance based on their experience and extensive knowledge of the insurance industry.

The best part is, all of this is available to you for free.

If you have any questions about car insurance, contact a BrokerLink broker today.