Autumn approaches. As the days grow shorter and the temperature dips, the leaves on trees will change colour from green to a dazzling display of gold, orange, and crimson before falling to the ground.
That means road trips may be on the minds of many Canadians. But this fall is unlike others before it because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, if you are planning to take a road trip outside of your home province, there is more to consider beforehand than what route to take and where to stay.
Whether you choose to rough it in the woods or visit a cottage, be prepared to make your road trip a safe and enjoyable experience. That might mean bringing a few useful gadgets along with you for both convenience and safety. It also means making sure your vehicle is in good condition and ensuring you have adequate insurance coverage.
The good news is that your auto insurance policy covers you in other provinces and the U.S. should you venture stateside once the border reopens. 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.
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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 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 – 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 some 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 for handling this scenario. 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.
However, third-party liability coverage may not be enough. In Quebec, the minimum you must carry is $50,000[FC1] ; in Alberta and Ontario, it's $200,000. That may sound like a lot, but if you are involved in even a minor accident, the costs could add up quickly. For instance, the Alberta Motor Association recommends carrying 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 hitting the road
Before you leave, it's a good idea to know what insurance you already have.
Travel to the U.S. and other countries is off-limits currently due to travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, it’s a good idea if you’re travelling to another Canadian province to look into purchasing travel insurance before you go, since your home province’s health insurance plan may not cover you for everything it does in other jurisdictions. Review your existing policies, including coverage that may be 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.