The short answer is yes: A charge for driving without insurance will go on your driving record. Insurance companies can also see the charge and increase what you pay for insurance for coverage.
To register and drive a vehicle in Canada, you must have a valid insurance policy that meets the minimum provincial coverage requirements. Further, operating an uninsured automobile can result in charges even if you’re not its owner.
Let’s explore the answers to essential questions about the consequences of driving without insurance and how a charge can affect your driving record, finances and options for future insurance coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you be arrested for driving without insurance?
Committing a criminal offence while driving without insurance can result in an arrest and a potential prison sentence. For example, fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal charge that you can be arrested for in Canada. However, driving uninsured by itself is not a criminal offence in Canada—a police officer won’t arrest someone for operating an uninsured vehicle.
In Ontario, driving without insurance charges won’t result in an arrest. However, you can be arrested in Alberta if you fail to pay fines for not insuring your vehicle. Not paying your first driving without insurance fine could lead to a prison sentence of 45 days to 6 months, while a second offence could result in another 60-days to 6-months of jail time.
What happens if you get caught driving without insurance coverage in Canada?
If you get caught driving your uninsured vehicle in Canada, you will face significant financial penalties.
Fines in Alberta:
- First offence: A fine of $2,875 to $10,000.
- Additional offences: A $5,000 up to $20,000 fine.
*An additional 15% surcharge will be added to these fines.
- First offence: A fine of $5,000 to $25,000.
- Additional offences: A $10,000 to $50,000 fine.
*Ontario’s Provincial Offense Act adds a 25% surcharge to driving without insurance fines.
Can I lose my license for driving without insurance?
In Canada, you will not receive licence demerit points for driving without insurance. Still, your driver’s licence can be suspended—license suspension policies for uninsured driving vary by province.
In Ontario, your license will be suspended for 30 days to a year for driving without insurance. A license suspension will remain on your driving record for three years after your licence is reinstated. In that case, you may have to pay more for auto insurance for up to 4 years after a conviction for driving without insurance.
Your licence can be suspended in Alberta by a judge’s ruling, usually after multiple uninsured driving convictions. Your Alberta licence can also be suspended if you fail to pay court-ordered compensation payments to an injured party after an accident.
Can I be charged for driving without insurance if the vehicle isn’t mine?
It’s essential to ensure the owner of a vehicle you borrow has proper insurance coverage. You also need access to proof of their insurance if you need to show it to the police or another driver after an accident.
If you drive someone else’s uninsured vehicle, you and the vehicle’s owner can be charged. However, you can’t be charged for driving without insurance in Ontario if the car doesn’t belong to you. But you can be charged with failure to show proof of insurance if you do not own the vehicle you’re driving.
Failure to produce evidence of insurance is a lesser charge than driving without insurance, with fines of $50 to $500 for vehicle owners and $65 for non-owners.
If the vehicle’s owner cannot prove they were insured when you were pulled over, they can still be charged for allowing you to drive without insurance. Police have three years to investigate and press driving without insurance charges.
In Alberta, there is no specific charge for failure to produce evidence of insurance. Instead, the vehicle’s owner is charged for failure to insure their car. The owner’s charges can be dropped if they provide proof of insurance.
According to Calgary Legal Guidance:
“If you received a ticket for “Driving without Insurance” and you believe you had valid insurance at the time, you must provide the Court with a letter from your insurance company stating that the vehicle you were driving was in fact insured on the date you were issued the ticket. If this letter is provided, the Crown will most likely withdraw the charges.”
Is driving without insurance common?
In 2010, the Toronto Star reported that approximately 2,100 uninsured vehicles were involved in accidents in Ontario annually. That’s just a fraction of the estimated 170,000 automobiles driving in Ontario without insurance, making up about 2% of all vehicles on Ontario roads.
Someone always has to pick up the tab for damage after an accident with uninsured or underinsured vehicles. In Canada, driving without insurance costs insured Canadian drivers, insurance companies, and government programs like the Ontario Motor Vehicle Claims Fund and the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program in Alberta, which help drivers who are in accidents with uninsured motorists.
Do mandatory insurance policies include coverage for collisions with uninsured drivers?
Did you know that uninsured auto insurance is part of mandatory minimum insurance coverage in 6 provinces?
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Newfoundland and Labrador
You can speak with an insurance broker about your options for securing coverage for accidents with uninsured vehicles.
Alberta has a tort-based auto insurance system. As a result, Alberta drivers may need to sue an at-fault driver for additional compensation for accident damages. If Alberta drivers can’t seek compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurer, they can receive compensation through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program.
Will driving without insurance affect my future insurability?
Paying high insurance premiums is another financial consequence of driving without insurance. A conviction for uninsured driving and having a licence suspension on your record can cause insurers to view you as a high-risk driver. High-risk auto insurance can be up to double that of a standard policy.
It’s crucial not to let your auto insurance coverage lapse. Even without an uninsured driving conviction, a gap in your insurance coverage can increase your auto insurance premiums.
What if I forget to insure my new car?
If you forget to insure a new car, you could face the charges and penalties outlined above. However, you may be in luck if you have insurance for another vehicle. Some Canadian insurers offer an automatic coverage period (usually about two weeks) after customers purchase a new car. Check with your insurer to see if they offer this coverage but be sure to tell them about your new purchase as soon as possible.
Your insurer can’t update your coverage until you add your new car to your policy. So, if you buy a new vehicle that you want to protect with full coverage and are currently insuring an older vehicle with only liability and accident benefits; that is the only insurance you will have on the new vehicle until you notify your broker and update your policy.
There are many consequences for driving without insurance in Canada. The worst scenarios are being involved in an accident while uninsured and fleeing an accident scene. Failing to remain at the scene of a collision comes with severe criminal penalties, and driving with no insurance can have severe financial ramifications if you were sued for millions of dollars for bodily injury or death in an at-fault accident. The consequences for uninsured driving also include steep fines, license suspensions and more expensive insurance rates.
Before you get behind the wheel of any vehicle, make sure it’s covered by insurance that meets provincial requirements and that you have access to its policy documents. We’ve worked hard to make getting insured with our industry-leading partners, expert brokers, and state-of-the-art technology easy. Get your 3-minute quote today.