Drivers typically only think about automobile insurance when the time comes to renew their policy or if they have been in an accident. Insurance is those things that we hope we never have to use and an expense we could all do without. But having auto insurance is not an option. It is an obligation and driving without a valid policy is not only irresponsible, it is against the law.
There are serious consequences for driving without insurance in Ontario. It is not a Criminal Code offence and you will not face a jail term. However, you can face hefty fines under the province’s Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. Contact our personal injury lawyer in Ottawa for a personal consultation if you got into a car accident without insurance.
At last count there were approximately 26.2 million licensed drivers in Canada. About 8.5 million were on Ontario roads and it has been estimated that two percent of these drivers lacked the necessary insurance. That may not seem like much, but that would mean there are 170,000 people driving without coverage in this province.
Those who drive without insurance not only put themselves at risk but everyone else on the road. It has been reported that there are about 2,100 uninsured vehicles involved in accidents annually. It also should be noted that insurance premiums are higher because of damage caused by uninsured drivers.
There can be many excuses for failing to get auto insurance. Some are not deterred by the fine and would rather gamble so that they won’t get caught. Others believe the other driver’s insurance will pay for any damages if they get into an accident. The most common reason, of course, is the cost. However, what you save would not be anywhere near what you would be forced to pay if you are caught without insurance. What to expect:
First offence: Fines range from $5,000 to $25,000.
Second offence: Fines range from $10,000 to $50,000.
Suspension: Your driver’s licence could be suspended for up to one year.
Loss of vehicle: Your vehicle can be impounded for up to three months. You will also have to pay for the towing and impoundment charges.
Government surcharge: A victim fine surcharge of 25 percent will be added to the fine under the Provincial Offences Act.
It is possible to drive without collision insurance on your own vehicle. It simply means that if you are involved in an accident and you are at fault, you will be solely responsible for paying for your repairs. However, if you are in an at-fault collision with no automobile insurance your troubles are just beginning. Not only can you be charged under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, you could face serious financial consequences. However, it is important to remember every accident is judged on its facts and there could be circumstances where an uninsured driver is eligible for coverage. For example, if they did not know or could not have known that the automobile they are operating did not have insurance. That is why it is important to seek legal advice after an accident.
Without insurance, you or your passenger may not be entitled to the accident benefits that are part of a standard policy. That means if you are injured, you will have to pay for any medical and rehabilitation expenses. If those injuries are serious enough to keep you off work, you will not have access to income replacement benefits. Typically, a driver with insurance would qualify for up to 70 per cent of their gross weekly income to a maximum of $400 per week for up to 104 weeks. Ontario motorists also have the option of purchasing additional insurance to top up these mandatory minimums to a maximum of $1,000 per week.
Even if you are not at fault in a collision, if you are driving without valid insurance and you are injured, you may not be able to sue the other driver for compensation, loss of income or health care costs. Your family members will not be eligible to pursue a lawsuit either.
Your problems only get worse if you cause an accident and someone else gets hurt. You can be sued and the award for a serious injury or death can run into the millions of dollars. If you cannot pay, your assets could be garnished to cover the damages. You will also be on the hook for any legal fees. And you may also be expected to pay for a portion of the other person’s legal fees if their lawsuit is successful.
It doesn’t end there. You may decide to get insurance once your license is reinstated. But you will now have a conviction for driving without insurance that stays on your record for three years. Because of that, you will likely be deemed a high-risk driver by insurance companies and face substantially higher premiums than the average driver.
Fortunately, Ontario has laws protecting drivers and their passengers following a collision with an uninsured motorist. If you have a valid no-fault automobile insurance policy, your insurer may compensate you for any injuries or damage, regardless of who was responsible.
If you are a pedestrian or a cyclist and/or do not own or have access to an insured vehicle, you can seek up to $200,000 in damages through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF). The fund is also available to accident victims of uninsured motorists. The MVACF is considered the payor of last resort in cases where no automobile insurance exists to address a claim. It is only available to those living in Ontario for accidents that occur in the province.
You may be eligible for:
If you have been injured by an uninsured driver in a motor vehicle accident, whether as a motorist or as a pedestrian or cyclist contact Yegendorf Rashid Injury Lawyers. Our dedicated team has decades of personal injury experience. We can guide you through the complex legal process to ensure you and your family receive the compensation you need to help you put your life back together after an accident.