New To Canada?: What You Need To Know About Auto Insurance And Driving

Posted on: 9 April 2015

Auto insurance in Canada varies widely from province to province. The only things that are universal are the government's requirements that every driver have insurance and that every driver carry a "pink" insurance card as proof of insurance. The rest of the auto insurance business is left up to each province's decision to involve the government or allow private insurance to cover drivers. If you are moving to Canada, you should be aware of how auto insurance works in each province and how it can affect your licensing and ability to drive.

Provinces That Rely on Publicly Owned and Government Operated Insurance Corporations:

1. British Columbia

An insurance corporation called ICBC provides auto insurance to all British Columbia residents. This corporation covers many of the potential problems auto owners and operators encounter, including theft and vandalism. The provincial government of British Columbia owns and operates this corporation and requires all drivers to provide proof of insurance before you can receive your Canadian driver's license or trade in your American license for a Canadian one.

2. Saskatchewan 

Like British Columbia, Saskatchewan Government Insurance and its affiliate, Saskatchewan Auto Fund are both owned and operated by the provincial government. They provide residents with auto insurance, but it is compulsory, just as it is in BC or Manitoba.

3. Manitoba

Manitoba Auto Insurance/Autopac provide Manitoba residents with the compulsory, publicly owned and government-operated auto insurance. There are severe penalties in Manitoba if you are pulled over by the police and do not have proof of insurance. As with BC and Saskatchewan, you have to show your insurance card before you can receive your license. Ergo, if you are driving without insurance, then you are probably driving without a license as well.

A Mixture of Public and Private Auto Insurance:


The Quebecois are free to choose a private insurer for their auto insurance. However, the provincial government covers all personal injuries in the event of an accident. This province has a mix of private and public insurances, so be sure to check your policy for adequate coverage in and out of the province. (They are the only exception to the public or private insurance rule.)

Strictly Private Auto Insurance Provinces:

Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Labrador and Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nunavat, Yukon, and Northwest Territories

These remaining Canadian provinces and territories all rely on private insurance to protect their vehicles. If you live in any one of these, your choices are vast. There are over three dozen private insurance companies to choose from, giving you multiple options and multiple types of coverage. Some of these insurance companies have holdings in the U.S. as well, which could allow a smooth transition over to a Canadian policy if you already have an American policy with one of these companies.

Your American Insurance and Coverage in Canada

As a visitor, your American auto insurance covers you regardless of what happens. When you apply for Canadian citizenship or dual citizenship, your American coverage will protect you for a short time until you make the transition over to Canadian auto insurance. You may also choose to keep your American insurance if you plan on traveling between countries a lot, since Canadian insurance will only cover you as a visitor in America.

Contact a company like Diamond Insurance Agencies for more information.