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Does Your Car Insurance Cover Travel Out of Province?

Friends smiling on a roadtrip

It's almost Spring, which means road trips are on the minds of many Canadians. The good news is that your auto insurance covers you in other provinces and in the U.S. But there's a caveat. Your policy might not be enough to take care of costs that arise if you injure someone in the states. Before you go, talk to your insurance provider about your protection limits and consider an add-on if necessary.

Car Insurance is Valid for Travel in Canada and the U.S.

In general, your car insurance follows you in Canada and to the U.S. As a result, if you are hurt in an accident, your policy should cover some medical costs and vehicle damage. You therefore have some protection for yourself and your passengers, even when driving outside of your province. Ontario, Alberta and Quebec all have no-fault insurance schemes, which means you deal with your own insurer regardless of who is responsible for the accident.

The benefits you receive depend on the seriousness of the injury, and whether you have purchased optional coverage -- just as would be the case in Canada.

Consider Additional Protection for U.S. Trips

Things are more complicated if passengers in another car suffer injuries. In many U.S. states, automobile insurance coverage is not mandatory and there's the risk that drivers are on the road without insurance. In the event of an accident, if there's no insurance, you may end up footing part of the bill.

Standard Canadian auto insurance policies have some provisions to handle this. You are required to have uninsured motorist coverage, which applies if the other driver is uninsured. You also have to have some third party liability coverage, which may cover injuries and vehicle damage to the other vehicles involved in the crash.

Often, however, that third party liability coverage is not enough. In Quebec, the minimum you must carry is $50,000; in Alberta and Ontario, it's $200,000. That may sound like a lot, but if you are involved in even a minor accident in the U.S., costs could add up quickly. Alberta's AMA recommends at least $1 million in coverage for this reason. You can purchase additional coverage to remove one potential worry so you can enjoy your vacation.

Steps to Take Before Your Trip

Before you leave, it's a good idea to know what insurance you already have. The Government of Canada recommends that everyone purchase travel insurance before leaving the country, if only to cover potential medical costs. Review your existing policies, including coverage provided by your credit card company.

Talk to your auto insurance provider to get the full details on your existing coverage. You may also want to ask about options to increase the protections in your policy so you won't be out-of-pocket in case you have an unplanned mishap on the road.

At the end of the day, vacations should be about having fun. Having the right insurance means you can enjoy the sights wherever you're driving in Canada or the U.S. To find the best options, check out Rates.ca.