Get money-saving tips in your inbox.

Stay on top of personal finance tips from our money experts!

News & Resources

What is minor conviction protection?

May 8, 2024
5 mins
Traffic lights with a red light camera, traffic enforcement camera that captures an image of a vehicle that breaking traffic laws. the photographic evidence and determine whether a violation occurred. (1).jpg

This article has been updated from a previous version.

Speeding or failing to signal before a lane change may seem like small offences, but these “minor convictions” have the power to affect your car insurance premium.

Drivers can protect themselves against rate hikes resulting from these small offences by opting for minor conviction protection.

Read more: One stop, two tickets: What happens to your auto insurance premium?

What constitutes a minor conviction?

A minor conviction is anything that is not significant enough to be considered a “major conviction” (for example, distracted driving or failing to report an accident) or a “criminal conviction” (like impaired driving or racing).

Minor convictions can include things like:

  • Speeding tickets for up to 45km/h over the posted speed limit (though the precise cut-off from minor to major speeding will vary)
  • Failing to wear a seatbelt
  • Not stopping at stop signs
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to produce a licence or proof of insurance (not to be confused with driving without insurance)
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Blocking a bike lane
  • Having an outdated inspection sticker
  • Failing to signal
  • Obstructing licence plate
  • Failing to give right-of-way

Related: How to handle a traffic conviction

What is minor conviction protection coverage?

With a minor conviction protection endorsement, your insurance company will forgive your first minor conviction and will not raise your insurance premium as a penalty. Minor conviction protection is available as an add-on to your insurance policy, so it will cost you extra money for this coverage.

Any minor convictions after the first one will be counted against your insurance premium and could increase your rate.

Related: Should you pay a traffic ticket or fight it? How both options will impact your insurance

Is accident forgiveness the same as minor protection coverage?

While both accident forgiveness and minor protection coverage provide an extra layer of protection for drivers, they are different and have their own terms and conditions.

Accident forgiveness is an add-on endorsement offered by many insurers that guarantees that your car insurance rate won’t increase after your first at-fault accident. This feature is not automatically included in your policy. You need to add it separately at an extra cost.

In the case of an accident, while your premiums won’t rise, you may still have to pay your insurance deductible for vehicle repairs.

Read more: When won’t an at-fault collision impact your car insurance rate?

How can I get minor conviction protection?

Not all insurance providers offer minor conviction protection. CAA and Sonnet Insurance provide variations of this add-on.

Matthew Johnson, a former customer care manager with Sonnet, notes that their minor conviction protection (or “ticket forgiveness”) is only available in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Every insurance company has different requirements for minor conviction protection. Johnson says Sonnet requires customers to have been continuously insured and driving for the past six years with no at-fault accidents on their record. They also need to be continuously licensed for the past 10 years and have no minor, major, serious, or criminal code conviction within the past three years.

The cost for minor conviction protection varies from driver to driver and provider to provider. Generally speaking, the longer you’ve been licensed, the cheaper this coverage will be.

Related: If you live in Ontario or Alberta, consider these auto insurance endorsements

The limitations of minor conviction protection

Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says that each insurance company has their own “underwriting rules and rates.” So not all companies will offer the same protection programs.

Here’s another caveat: While one company may offer minor conviction protection and forgive your first minor conviction, if you switch insurance companies, that forgiveness doesn’t follow you. The new company can count your first minor conviction against you if it’s still on your record — and your premium will reflect that. The same can happen if you move provinces and your insurance provider doesn’t offer minor conviction protection in that region.

“You can think of it as your company might have forgiven it, but your driving record hasn’t forgotten it,” Thomas says.

If you are in Ontario, you can check your driving record to see if you might be eligible for minor conviction protection.

And if you find that your rate does increase after a minor conviction, it’s in your best interest to compare car insurance rates to see if another provider is willing to offer you a lower premium.

Read next: Ontario’s budget 2024: Drivers will soon be able to opt out of certain mandatory auto insurance coverage

car mascot.png

Don't waste time calling around for auto insurance

Use RATESDOTCA to shop around, and compare multiple quotes at the same time.

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto.

Latest auto insurance articles

What is pay-as-you-go car insurance?
If you live in Ontario or Nova Scotia and drive fewer than 12,000 kilometres a year, consider a mileage-based insurance program to reduce your rate.
4 mins read
Most common insurance claims in Canada
Home and auto insurance can cover a wide range of claims. Here are just the most common ones.
4 mins read
Will my car insurance cover damage discovered after filing a claim?
It’s rare to find additional damage after a claim has been settled and repairs done. But if it happens, here are your options.
5 mins read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of our latest offers, relevant news and tips!

Thanks for joining!

You'll be hearing from us shortly - stay tuned.