Protection from uninsured drivers
In Canada, you’re legally required to carry the minimum mandatory coverage in order to drive a car on public roads. This coverage provides financial protection for you, your passengers and others around you on the road as well. Mandatory coverages vary from province to province and can generally be supplemented with enhanced or optional coverage for even better protection.
But unfortunately, not everyone always plays by the rules. Accidents happen and sometimes they happen with people who drive illegally behind the wheel with no car insurance. This may bring up a few questions and feelings of uncertainty. For example, what do you do if you happen to get into an accident with someone who is driving without insurance? Below is some information to help you feel more confident if you ever have to deal with an uninsured driver in the event of an accident.
What is an uninsured motorist?
Quite simply, an uninsured motorist is someone who's driving a car but doesn't carry the minimum mandatory coverage. Remember, driving without insurance is illegal and has serious repercussions. It’s important to understand that when purchasing insurance in Canada, you're insuring the vehicle, not necessarily the person driving it. Therefore, as a driver, make sure the car you’re driving is properly insured and you have the owner’s permission to use the vehicle if you’re not the owner.
If you are the owner of the vehicle, it's your responsibility to ensure your car is properly insured and that your policy reflects all required licensed drivers and their usage.
It’s also worth mentioning unidentified drivers. An unidentified driver is considered someone who flees the scene of an accident without providing their information. This is known as a hit and run, which is treated differently than an uninsured driver when it comes to coverages.
What's the difference between an uninsured driver and an underinsured driver?
As mentioned above, an uninsured driver is someone who doesn’t have the minimum car insurance coverage they're required to have, as per their province's requirements, yet continues to drive illegally. On the other hand, an underinsured driver is someone who is insured but doesn't carry sufficient coverage to cover costs for damage/injuries that may arise from an at-fault accident. And while the underinsured driver may have the mandatory minimum coverage they're required to have, they may not have opted into the option of increasing their coverage limits. This may lead to being underinsured in situations involving severe damages or injuries. Check your policy to ensure you have sufficient coverage to protect you and your vehicle if the unexpected were to happen.
What do I do if I get into an accident with an uninsured driver?
If you get into an accident, it’s important to follow the same protocol with an uninsured driver that you would with an insured/underinsured driver. Make sure everyone involved in the accident is safe and contact emergency services if necessary. If you find out the other driver is illegally driving without insurance, you must contact the authorities.
Next, you want to exchange contact information. Make sure to get all the necessary information you can. That includes their name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, licence plate number and the make, colour and model of their car. It’s also a good idea to get contact information from any nearby witnesses, too. Here is a little more detailed information about safety tips and what to do after an accident.
Am I covered if I get into an accident with an uninsured motorist?
Uninsured motorist coverage (included in your base policy) will typically protect you if you were to get into an accident involving an uninsured driver, and they're considered at fault. But depending on the province and the type of coverage, there are some details to be aware of to be confident you're adequately covered. Let's consider these three categories:
If you or your passengers are injured following an accident involving an uninsured vehicle, your Accident Benefits coverage (a mandatory coverage in all provinces except Newfoundland & Labrador) will generally provide coverage. If injuries are sustained and the uninsured, underinsured or unidentified third party is found to be at fault, you may also have access to additional coverage through an extension of coverage know as the Family Protection Endorsement (except in Quebec). The extent and limits of coverage for injuries varies from province to province and could depend on the particulars of the situation. You can check your policy for additional information or speak to an advisor for more details if you have any questions.
Typically, the damage would be to your car, but it could also include other property. Damage to property stemming from an accident with an uninsured vehicle where the uninsured person is found to be at fault is covered under Uninsured Automobile coverage (which is also a mandatory coverage in all provinces, with the current exception of Alberta). In Alberta, damage to your own vehicle in these situations is typically only covered if you carry Collision coverage. As with injuries, depending on the province there can be limits to how much coverage is available under the Uninsured Automobile coverage, and in some cases, a deductible may be applicable. If you're unsure of what the limits are, check your policy or speak to an advisor for more details if you have any questions.
- Hit and Runs
There's also the case of accidents involving unidentified drivers, which is generally the case where someone strikes you or your car and flees the scene (a hit and run). Similar to accidents involving uninsured vehicles, injuries sustained by you, or passengers is typically covered under Accidents Benefits or through similar coverages provided by government-run programs in the cases of Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. For damage to your property, including your vehicle, coverage is generally dependent on you carrying Collision coverage on your vehicle (or Comprehensive in the case of Alberta).
How do I file an uninsured driver claim?
Car accidents are stressful, especially with the added factor of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. You should call your insurer as soon as you can to notify them of the accident and to start a claim. If you're a TD Insurance customer, we’ve made making a claim easier for you. The steps to file a claim with an uninsured driver are the same process you would go through with a regular claim. Learn about the simple steps involved to help you get through the claims process.
What if I get caught driving without insurance?
Driving without insurance is a serious offence. You may have to pay expensive fines, you may be charged, and/or get your licence taken away. Don’t let this happen to you. Insurance is there to help and protect you, other people on the road and their property. Make sure you have legally required, mandatory coverage before you get behind the wheel of a car. Speak to a TD Insurance licensed advisor today or review and manage your policy online via MyInsurance. If you're not yet with TD Insurance but you're looking to be, start with a quote to see what customized coverage looks like for you.