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What are the Real Risks of Driving Without Auto Insurance?

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Auto insurance is mandatory, but there are nonetheless individuals who hit the road without it. If you do not have insurance, the financial and personal consequences may be high.

Driving without insurance is against the law, regardless of your home province. So before you decide to keep up your road habits without proper coverage, consider what may happen.

Penalties and Fines

If you don't carry auto insurance, you can face major fines from the provincial authority. In Ontario, these range from $5,000 to $50,000.

In Alberta, first offenders face fines of $2,875 to $10,000. If you don't pay the fine, you can get a jail sentence of 45 days to six months in jail. Second offenders in Alberta may get a fine of $5,000 to $20,000 with a jail sentence of 60 days to six months for failure to pay.

Those are just two examples: the fines are significant regardless of where you live in Canada.

Those penalties are stiff -- and probably much more than a basic policy would cost you.

Another possible penalty is having your vehicle impounded and license suspended. So in addition to paying high out-of-pocket, driving without insurance may also mean additional penalties that keep you off the road.

Higher Insurance

So, once someone has been caught without insurance, where do they go next? It would make sense that they would look for coverage to avoid facing the same consequences twice. But although they usually cannot be refused coverage on the basis of their history alone, they may be subject to higher insurance rates.

In Ontario, the insurance industry cannot refuse to sell you insurance because you are a "high risk driver," but individual companies can. Those that do agree to sell you a policy may be those companies that cater specifically to those with an accident or conviction history. These companies may charge you more for basic coverage.

Accident Coverage

This all assumes that an authority discovers the lack of coverage before there has been an accident. But what happens if you don't have insurance, and are injured in a collision? That can make things very challenging for you personally and financially. In Ontario, you may not be entitled to income replacement benefits and you may not be allowed to sue the driver at fault for the collision.

So that means that if you don't have coverage, even if an accident wasn't your fault, you would not necessarily get coverage for time off work. You would not necessarily be able to take legal action against the other driver. If you are at fault, another injured party can sue you -- and you have to pay the damages out of your own pocket.

Those costs can run into the millions of dollars.

Get the Best Coverage Today

Given the risks, it's a good idea to make sure your car insurance is adequate and up-to-date. That doesn't mean you have to settle for an expensive policy. Check out quotes on Rates.ca to get the right coverage wherever you live in Canada.