This article has been updated from a previous version.
Work crews can shut down roads for several reasons, including poor weather conditions and construction. Often, these closures are marked with clear signage telling drivers to stay away.
But what happens if you take a risk and drive ahead anyway? Not only is it poor driving etiquette, but it could also make your insurance void in the event of a collision or typically insured peril. Here are some things to consider before heading out on the road.
Safe driving is the law
There’s a mixture of federal, provincial, and municipal laws that apply to you on the road. These are intended to reduce collisions and keep everyone safe. If you’re caught speeding or disobeying road signs, you are violating these laws and can receive a ticket or fine. In such cases, your insurance coverage will usually stay intact but, depending on the severity of the traffic infraction, your premium may go up. Your insurance provider has the right to do this to mitigate its own risk.
Insurance providers may not pay out for illegal activities
So, what happens when you are on the road, do something illegal like drink and drive, and end up in a collision? It depends on the circumstances, but your insurance company may have the right to refuse your claim. The wording in your policy may exclude coverage after certain events, including being charged with impaired operation of a vehicle at the time of the collision.
During winter, it’s common for city crews to close local roads and highways. This is because the area is deemed unsafe. Drivers are not just encouraged to drive defensively — they are told to avoid the area altogether. In Ontario, driving on a closed road comes with monetary fines. It also leaves you vulnerable if the unthinkable happens. Your insurance provider may not cover you for vehicle damage or personal injury if you have chosen to ignore the law in this way.
When in doubt, stay home
To keep your coverage intact, stay up to date on road conditions. You can get the latest on closures from Ontario 511, a service run by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO). If it looks bad out there, stay home.
Of course, that is not always an option. If you venture out under less-than-ideal weather conditions, consider public transit. If you must drive, take careful notice of any road signs — and obey them, even if it seems safe to forge ahead.
Get the best coverage for your vehicle
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