The Risks and Consequences Of Driving Without Insurance

Why you should never, ever, drive without insurance, even for five minutes…

Driving without insurance is one of those no-brainer kind of situations that always make me give my head a shake. Not only are you putting yourself at risk in terms of liability, fines and possible suspension of your license, but you put others at risk too.

What happens if you drive without insurance in Ontario?

Once or twice a year, someone comes into my office who did not insure their vehicle and was hurt in an accident. Even though they aren’t at fault, they have little recourse to help pay for the medical care they need. Sad, isn’t it?

Now imagine the person who didn’t insure their vehicle and hit someone else; it’s even worse.

Is there a law for Driving Without Insurance?

There is something called the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA).  This law requires that you have insurance coverage when you operate an automobile. It also tell us that it is an offence when you fail to provide proof of insurance.

It makes common sense to carry a copy of your automobile insurance in your car at all times. This is the standard pink slip that your insurance company provides to you.

Is there a difference between driving without insurance and failure to show proof of insurance?

Absolutely. The main difference is whether or not you have paid for insurance coverage or not. Either way, not having proof of insurance to show will result in a fine.  However, the penalty for driving without insurance is more significant.

What is the minimum insurance you need to carry in Ontario?

If you’re driving in Ontario, you need to have third party liability coverage. This is what protects you if you injure someone else or damage property, as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The standard amount is $1 million, though carrying $2 million coverage isn’t unusual these days, as lawsuits CAN get expensive.

You also need to be carrying sufficient accident benefits coverage, without which you could be in for some very expensive medical bills.

It’s always good to look at your coverages and make sure they will meet your needs in the case of a serious or catastrophic injury.

You also need to carry uninsured motorist coverage, in the event that you are hit by an someone else driving without insurance, and DCPD (Direct Compensation-Property Damage), which covers your vehicle / property, in the event of an accident where are you not at fault.

I’ve known people who only put comprehensive coverage on their vehicle that they aren’t driving—for example, if it’s in storage for the winter—opting to just cover it in the case of damage or theft.

Here’s the problem: if you drive that car on a road for even just a moment, just to get to the next driveway where you’re going to store it, for example, and you have an accident and get injured? You aren’t covered.

I can’t stress this enough. If you intend to move your vehicle for even a moment onto a public roadway, you need insurance.

This is true for ATVs and snowmobiles too. If it’s got a key and an ignition switch, it needs insurance or it doesn’t move except on the back of flatbed truck!

The risk of driving without insurance on the lanes on Ontario

The first time you are caught driving without insurance, you’re looking at a minimum $5000 fine (up to a max of $25,000). Getting caught again could result in fines upwards of $10,000 to $50,000, as well as possible license suspension and even vehicle impounding.

The risks are simply not worth it. If you can’t afford your car insurance, then it’s best to take your vehicle off the road until your circumstances change. Getting caught driving without insurance is bad enough, but if you cause an accident? The implications are enormous.

Why should you never drive without insurance in Ontario

As a courtesy, the police can give you an opportunity to come to the police station with your valid insurance slips to prove you had insurance at the time you were stopped.

Typically, this is 24-48 hours. That said, it’s a courtesy. They’re not under any obligation to do this and you could be issued a ticket for driving without valid insurance, which you will then have to spend time fighting in court.

Ultimately, the onus is on you to prove that you have / had valid insurance.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse at the best of times but even more so when it comes to carrying valid insurance before you turn the key in the ignition switch. It’s your responsibility as a vehicle owner to maintain proper insurance, keep it up to date and to always have proof of insurance with you when driving the car.

Bottom line, it is never a good idea to drive without auto insurance. The consequence of being forgetful or just to save a few dollars puts you at serious risk of lawsuits, fines, medical expenses and suspension of your driver’s license.

Don’t ruin your life for something that could have been entirely avoided.


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