In Ontario, it is a legal requirement for all vehicle owners to have valid insurance for their vehicles and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the insurance purchased is valid and up to date.
The reason for insurance is that, as a citizen, a driver must be able to pay for damage caused to someone’s property or if he/she injures someone.
The requirement for insurance entails that all motor vehicles must have, at least, third party liability coverage
Third party liability insurance means that the policy purchased covers damages caused to another party (third party) due to a fault by the insured (the person who purchased the policy)
By law, it is required that a driver must have at least $200,000 in third party liability, however most drivers opt for $1 million or $2 million.
If stopped by the police, a driver is required to show proof of insurance at the time of the stop, if the police officer requests it. In some cases, if the driver does not have proof of insurance at the time a police officer stops him/her, the officer will allow the driver up to 48 hours to go into the nearest police station and provide proof of insurance. It is not an obligation for a police officer to do this but rather a courtesy.
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Vehicle insurance payments are usually made monthly and although this may seem costly, the monetary repercussions of driving without insurance are much more severe.
Driving without insurance is an extremely serious offence that has harsh penalties if a driver is convicted. These penalties include:
First time conviction: Fine between $5000-$25 000
Second time conviction: Fine between $10 000-$50 000
Possible license suspension for up to one year
Possible car impounding for up to three months
The Provincial Offences Act adds a 25% victim fine surcharge to whatever fine is charged to a driver by the court.
Once charged with driving without insurance, it is very difficult to provide a defence. Reasons like you did not know your insurance expired or that you did not know you needed insurance are unacceptable as it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that his/her vehicles insurance is valid and up to date.
Providing such reasons may reduce the fine that a driver has to pay, however, if the driver is involved in an accident, he/she is personally liable for paying for damages done to the other car as well as paying for injuries sustained.
Information about driving without insurance can be found in the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act of Ontario.
Section 2 of the Act states that:
(1) Subject to the regulations, no owner or lessee of a motor vehicle shall,
(a) operate the motor vehicle; or
(b) cause or permit the motor vehicle to be operated, on a highway unless the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.
Section 3 of the Act outlines the punishments associated with driving without insurance:
(3) Every owner or lessee of a motor vehicle who,
(a) contravenes subsection (1) of this section or subsection 13 (11); or
(b) surrenders an insurance card for inspection to a police officer when requested to do so, purporting to show that the motor vehicle is insured under a contract of automobile insurance when the motor vehicle is not so insured, is guilty of an offence and is liable on a first conviction to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $25,000 and on a subsequent conviction to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000 and, in addition, his or her driver’s licence may be suspended for a period of not more than one year.