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I read your story on what happens if you get hit by an uninsured driver in a province with private insurance, but what happens in provinces with public insurance? – Lin, Victoria

If your car is hit by an uninsured driver in provinces with public insurance, rest assured – you’re covered, as long as you have insurance.

In British Columbia, for instance, it works the same as in the provinces with private insurance.

If you're in a crash where an uninsured driver is at fault, your collision insurance, if you bought it, will cover the damages to your car, says the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

“The majority of B.C. drivers purchase ICBC’s collision coverage and will get the full benefit of that coverage if their vehicle is damaged by an uninsured or unidentified (hit-and-run) driver,” said Lindsay Wilkins, ICBC spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “The claim would be handled under the collision coverage, and ICBC would waive the deductible.”

But in B.C., there’s recourse if you don’t have collision insurance. “For damage to property other than vehicles, or to vehicles without collision coverage, the statutory fund is available when there is no other coverage available,” Wilkins says.

In B.C., anyone with basic insurance or a valid B.C. driver’s licence has uninsured-motorist protection, Wilkins says.

Unlike uninsured protection in provinces with public insurance, which only covers injuries or has a cap on coverage for vehicle damages, B.C.'s fund covers both injuries and collision damage, Wilkins says.

"For damage to property other than vehicles, or to vehicles without collision coverage, the statutory fund is available when there is no other coverage available," Wilkins says.

The fund covers up to $1-million for injuries and property damage if you’re in a hit and run or if you’re hit by somebody who doesn’t have insurance.

That’s different than Ontario, where you’re only covered for up to $25,000 of the damage to your car if you’re hit by an uninsured driver and you don’t have collision. It’s also different than Alberta, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, where damage to your car wouldn’t be covered at all if you’re hit by an uninsured driver and don’t have collision insurance.

Even in B.C., the fund won't protect you if you're at fault. If you caused a crash, whether the other driver had insurance or not, your car repairs will only be covered if you have collision protection.

Do you need to sue the other driver first to access the fund?

"For most claims for injury, death or damage to property (including vehicle damage), under the statutory coverage, ICBC will settle directly with the claimant and seek recovery from the uninsured motorist," Wilkins said.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba

What about the other two provinces with public insurance?

In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, if you have basic insurance, then you and your car are covered in any collision, whether the other driver is insured or not.

“In Saskatchewan, a valid registration means you have basic plate insurance on your plates which includes coverage for damage to your vehicle (subject to a deductible), personal-injury insurance from a vehicle collision and liability insurance for damage your vehicle causes to another vehicle or property, or injury to others,” said Tyler McMurchy, spokesman for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), in an e-mail.

Unlike in other provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba drivers don't need to purchase additional collision coverage – damage is covered even if they're at fault.

For instance, in a collision where both drivers have insurance, the at-fault driver would just have to pay the deductible on his vehicle. That deductible is $700 in Saskatchewan and $500 in Manitoba.

If you don't have insurance at all, then your vehicle damage won't be covered.

“If you were breaking the law by driving an uninsured vehicle ... and you were struck by another uninsured vehicle or you were a victim of a hit and run, your vehicle would have no insurance coverage and you’d have to pay for any repairs to your vehicle out of pocket,” McMurchy says. “As a Saskatchewan resident, you’d still have no-fault injury coverage if you were hurt, however.”

In both provinces, if you’re at fault and don’t have insurance, the insurance company could sue you for the cost of the damages to the other vehicle.

Have a driving question? Send it to Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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