With auto and motorcycle insurance rates in Ontario on their way up after years of stability, there are drivers and riders out there who may be thinking about taking a chance and going without insurance for a while to save some cash. How can we put this? Um, that’s a terrible idea.
The average auto insurance premium in Ontario is now around $1,900. That may seem like a lot, and if you live in the GTA and have a couple of tickets on your record, or at-fault claims, that number could easily go north of $5,000. So we get it. It’s a lot of money. Please see our money-saving tips to get the best deal possible.
The thing is though, if you get caught driving without insurance, or worse, if you get in an accident without insurance, the costs could easily go into the tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can look forward to if you drive without insurance in Ontario:
Fines and suspensions
The penalties for driving without insurance in Ontario are the following:
- Fine of $5,000 to $25,000 for first offence
- Fine of $10,000 to $50,000 for subsequent offence
- Your license could be suspended for as long as one year
- Your car could be impounded for up to three months, and you would be responsible for the storage fees
As severe as the fines for driving without insurance may seem, they are not the biggest cost associated with driving uninsured. Insurance companies treat a conviction for driving without insurance the same way they treat a conviction for drunk driving. The next time you try to get insurance, you’ll find:
- Most insurers will refuse to insure you
- You’ll be considered a high-risk driver
- You’ll likely pay $8,000 a year or more for insurance. More if you have other convictions.
These consequences will follow you around for at least 3 years.
Getting in an accident without insurance
If you’re not yet convinced that driving uninsured is a bad idea, consider this: You may think that you’re a good driver and so there’s no reason for a cop to pull you over and check your insurance. But what if someone else crashes into you?
If you get into an accident while you’re driving uninsured:
- If you get injured, you don’t get the medical and rehabilitation benefits (Accident Benefits) that are part of an auto insurance policy. If you’re seriously hurt, of course costs like going to the emergency room are covered by your provincial health insurance, but physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic etc. are not covered. Furthermore, if your injuries prevent you from working, you can’t claim income replacement benefits while you’re off work.
- If you’re not at fault and you get injured, you can’t sue the at-fault driver.
- If you are at fault and someone else gets hurt, they can sue you for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars, and that comes straight out of your pocket. Legal fees too. Insurance won’t pay. You could be forced into bankruptcy.
- When you try to get insurance again later, you’ll be paying thousands a month as a high-risk driver for at least 3 years.
How likely are you to get caught?
It’s true that some people drive without insurance and don’t get caught. Here are three ways you can get busted:
- A police officer pulls you over and calls to verify your coverage.
- You get into an accident and police or the other driver ask for your insurance info
- You try to renew your vehicle plates and the Ministry checks for insurance
So, as Dirty Harry says,
Do you feel lucky?
Think you’re insured? You may not be
Especially when rates are going up, there are a lot of scammers out there trying to capitalize on drivers who want to save money. Watch out for anyone who is trying to sell you insurance for much less than you’re currently paying. It may actually be too good to be true. In many cases, they might give you an insurance slip that looks perfectly legitimate, but it may not be. Make sure that anyone who tries to sell you auto insurance is licensed to do so. They should be on one of the following lists:
- List of licensed insurance brokers
- List of licensed insurance agents
- List of licensed insurance companies
If you buy auto insurance from someone who’s not on one of the lists, all you have is a pretty pink card.
What else could lead you to drive uninsured?
If you’re driving without insurance, one of three things happened:
- You were the victim of an insurance scam
- You deliberately chose to drive uninsured
- You switched insurers and there was a gap in your insurance coverage
When switching insurance companies, we highly recommend that you not cancel your old coverage until you receive the 30-day temporary slips from your new insurer. The law doesn’t care why you are driving uninsured. The penalties are the same no matter what the reason.