I have a neighbour who cancelled his insurance during COVID-19 but has started driving without it. I imagine there are more people like this out there. So what happens if my car gets hit by one of these idiots without insurance? Am I still covered? Are there limits on the coverage? – Suresh, Hamilton
As long as you have insurance, you have some coverage if an uninsured driver hits your car – but there could be limits.
“If you can identify the vehicle and the driver confirms they have no insurance, then the provincial policies give you some coverage,” says Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). “You’ll need to notify the authorities as soon as possible because they need to conduct an investigation.”
Everywhere in Canada, car insurance is mandatory – you have to be insured.
But because people break the law, all insurance policies in provinces with private insurance include uninsured automobile coverage.
It doesn’t mean you have unlimited coverage in a crash with an uninsured motorist; it will depend on what coverage you purchased.
"The Ontario Automobile Insurance Policy outlines that uninsured automobile coverage will respond for up to $25,000 for accidental damage to the vehicle and/or its contents, subject to a $300 deductible," said Hans Reidl, senior vice-president, claims with Economical Insurance, in an e-mail. "If you have optional collision or upset coverage, your policy will respond over and above this up to the liability limit."
So, if your Tesla is worth $70,000 and it was totalled by an uninsured driver, you would pay the deductible and be covered for $24,700 under the policy.
If you had purchased collision coverage, then most companies would cover the remaining $45,000 – even though collision coverage normally only covers damage to your car when you're the one at fault.
If you make a collision claim after being hit by an uninsured driver, you would also see a hike to your rates, even though you weren't at fault.
What if you don't have collision insurance? Then you would have to sue for that $35,000.
"You must seek recovery from the uninsured driver by way of civil action," Reidl says.
If it's a hit and run where you don't know who hit you, then it would be treated like a normal insurance claim and you'd be covered, Reidl says.
Insurance rules vary by province, but in most provinces, your collision insurance would cover the vehicle damage if you're hit by an uninsured driver.
But what if you're badly hurt in a crash with an uninsured driver?
Here's where it gets even more complicated. In Ontario, you would be covered by the accident benefits in your policy in any crash, whether you hit someone, someone hits you or a boulder landed on your car.
For catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis or serious brain injury, you can sue an at-fault driver for wage losses and additional medical treatments.
If that driver doesn't have insurance, then you would draw from the uninsured automobile coverage in your policy, up to a limit of $200,000.
If damages to your vehicle and your injuries total more than $200,000, 95 per cent will go to injuries and 5 per cent will go to the loss of the car.
For instance, if your $20,000 car is destroyed in a crash and you and your spouse need $350,000 in accident benefits, your insurance company would pay $190,000 for your injuries (95 per cent of the total) and $10,000 for the loss of your car.
That’s true even if you have $1-million in liability on your policy – unless you purchased optional family protection coverage, which is typically under $50 a year. In Ontario, it’s called OPCF 44R.
That would cover you for the amount of liability coverage on your policy.
Insurance rules vary by province, but in most provinces, your collision insurance would cover damage to your car if you're hit by an uninsured driver.
The rules on compensation for injuries in crashes caused by uninsured drivers vary in the other provinces. In Alberta, for instance, your insurance provides up to $50,000 in benefits for two years after the crash. If you use up that coverage, or if you don't have insurance, you can access the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims (MVAC) program.
“The MVAC program then provides medical benefits up to a limit of $95,000 per individual,”said Jerrica Goodwin, spokeswoman for Alberta’s Treasury Board, in an e-mail.
Have a driving question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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