Tickets And Car Accidents On Vacation: What You Should Know

Tickets And Car Accidents On Vacation: What You Should Know

Whether you are heading across Canada, or going south into the U.S., it’s important to know what will happen if the open road is marred by a speed bump along the way.

Where Does Your Auto Insurance Cover You?

Canadian auto insurance policies cover you everywhere in Canada as well as in the United States. If you plan to drive even further south, into Mexico, your insurance stops at the border. Car insurance issued outside of Mexico is not valid within Mexico. You can get this (Mexican auto insurance) along with the vehicle permit you’ll need at the Mexican border. Among other things you’ll need: proof of vehicle ownership, proof of Canadian registration, a valid Canadian driver’s licence, your passport and a credit card. Contact the Mexican Embassy in Canada for a full list of what you’ll need if you plan to drive into Mexico.

Tip: Be sure to carry all of your documents (insurance, registration etc.) with you everywhere you go. If you’re pulled over, or involved in a collision, you’ll need to have everything with you.

Getting a Ticket Away From Home

The rules of the road may vary; by city, province, state and country. Don’t wait until there is a police cruiser behind you to find out that what you thought was legal, isn’t. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road of your destination and all points in between.

All of the provinces of Canada have a reciprocal agreement through which they report tickets to each other’s driver licensing departments. This means that if you live in Ontario and get a speeding ticket in Manitoba, it will still affect your driving record and can result in an increase in premiums.

If you receive a ticket in the U.S., whether or not it appears on your record depends on whether the state where the ticket was given has an agreement with your home province. Many states have reciprocal agreements with Canadian provinces, but it differs from state to state and province to province. It’s best not to assume that your home province won’t find out.

If you receive a traffic ticket away from home you can choose to pay the fine or fight the ticket. Bear in mind that if you choose to fight the ticket, you will likely be required to appear in court in that province or state.

Car Accidents in Other Provinces or Countries

Wherever your travels lead you in Canada or the U.S., your auto insurance will follow.

If you’re involved in a car accident, you would do much of the same as if the accident happened in your home town:

  • Stay calm and keep safe; get out of harm’s way.
  • Check for injuries, and call the ambulance if in doubt.
  • Call the local police.
  • Get the contact details, name and address of all driver’s and witnesses.
  • Document the make, model, and model year of the vehicle, as well as the licence plate number, state or country and the name of the other driver’s insurer.
  • Write down the details of the accident: date and time, location, road and traffic conditions. Don’t forget to also document the damages.

As soon as you can safely do so, call your insurance company. Your insurance company can help; they see this type of thing all the time. They’ll be able to recommend local repair shops if your car is fixable, or help set you up with a rental if it’s not. Many travellers make the mistake of waiting until they are back in the country to call their auto insurer. This could complicate matters when making a claim.

No damage. No injuries. No worries?

Perhaps, but just like tickets, if you’re in an car accident outside of your home province or country and there is a police report, it could end up on your driving record if a reciprocal agreement exists.

Road trip travel tips and links

Prepare for your travels to avoid unpleasant surprises:

  • Before leaving, have a mechanic look over your car and top-up all fluids.
  • Pack travel insurance.
  • Make sure you pack your proof of auto insurance, ownership, your driver’s licence, and vehicle registration.
  • Have your auto insurer’s phone numbers handy, just in case you need to give them a call.
  • You will need a valid passport to enter the United States and Mexico. If you do not already have one, contact your local passport office for information on how to get a passport.
  • Map out where the closest Canadian Government offices can be found along your route; they’ll be able to help you if you’re ever in a bind.
  • Visit the Canada to U.S. border wait times table to see how long each border crossings’ wait time is; and, when returning, visit the U.S. to Canada table
  • Once on the road, it is recommended you limit your driving to 700-800 km per day with 15-minute breaks every 2 hours. Aim to stop driving by dinner, so you can eat and relax for the rest of the evening. This pace however, won’t give you much time—if any—for roadside attractions. For that, you’ll want to limit your driving to 300-400 km per day.


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Using your car as a taxi? Don’t lie about your insurance

The Gazette

Uber drivers can use the HOV lanes,” read the headline. Upon closer observation, the sentence continued: providing they have three or more occupants, just like everyone else.

So close, Uber, so close. The trendy hire-a-drive app that puts a car at your fingertips in many parts of the world just can’t seem to catch a break. Does it deserve to?

The Pan Am Games are set to descend upon the Toronto region in the coming days, promising to swirl the already catatonic gridlock further down into the depths of hell. I’m sure more than a few Uber drivers were parsing the fine print that allows taxis and airport limos to use the coveted HOV lanes, now temporarily drawn on an additional 185 kilometres of major highways around the Greater Toronto Area. That’s in addition to the existing 50 permanent kilometres. In the eyes of the law, Uber still hangs in a no man’s land.

This article started out six months ago as a stunt piece: I was going to simply become an Uber driver for a day and report back. A call to my insurance broker simply seeking background information ground that idea to a halt, and fast. Even hinting what I was considering would cost me my private car insurance policy, a risk I can’t afford to take. A quick pivot sent me to Twitter looking for an existing Uber driver who would let me ride along; after an initial encouraging phone call and a few email exchanges, he went to ground, never to be heard from. Guess having his name in the paper was too much of a risk.

News organizations aren’t fans of pseudonyms, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t even get someone to play along with a black bar across their eyes and a voice scrambler. Uber advertises itself as an excellent way to make easy money if you own a car. You must be 21 with a full licence, own a four-door car less than 10 years old, pass a background check they pay for, and have valid car insurance.

Therein lies the rub for prospective Uber drivers here in Canada. “Will any of the described automobiles be rented or leased to others, or used to carry passengers for compensation or hire, or haul a trailer, or carry explosives or radioactive material?” Every insurance company in Canada uses forms that carry some version of this sentence, and if you check “no” and then sign off on the application and then start accepting fees for ferrying people (or pizzas) around, you could be committing fraud.

It’s not that you can’t be an Uber driver and also have insurance; it’s that you can’t lie about it. A recent Forbessurvey published in the U.S. found “…while the vast majority of respondents – almost 70% – say they plan to purchase a policy in the future, a disturbing 84% say they do not tell their insurer or their agent/broker about their ridesharing activities.”

Uber outlines how their end of the deal functions: your responsibility is riding on your personal insurance, and if damages reach past your limits, their own insurance will kick in. Uber knows you’re driving for Uber; there’s a good chance your insurance company does not, unless you notified them. And notifying your insurance company of your Uber intentions can work out one of two ways:

• You call your company and ask innocently if considering being an Uber driver could affect personal insurance. They could cancel your insurance or at the very least start investigating it because now they know what you’re doing or;

• They can offer to sell you the proper product for what you’re considering, which is commercial coverage. This will be – and I’m ballparking here – maybe three times your current rate.

So, there’s a chance some individuals won’t call their insurance company, and if that Forbes survey is even close to accurate, the chance is most won’t. Who can remember ticking that box so many years ago? Besides, if I start delivering pizzas, I’m hardly going to have to call my insurance company, right? Actually, you are. Your insurer does need to know that you’re delivering pizzas. They want to know if anyone in your household with access to your car is delivering pizzas. Or flowers. Or Uber clients.

It’s not that they’re going to jack your rates similarly for pizzas and passengers. As Pete Karageorgos of theInsurance Bureau of Canada is quick to point out, “Insurers know pizzas aren’t passengers. Our job is to match policy to risk; it’s critical that you inform your provider of any material change to that risk, and be transparent about it.”

If you’re not, you’re swimming in a fraud pond. In the event of a crash, insurers can opt to deny the claim, leaving you at the mercy of someone like Uber’s Internet promises. They could also decide to cover the claim, but then back charge you the premium you should have been paying had you notified them in the first place. I like to complain about usurious insurance rates, especially here in Ontario, but I would be angrier if payouts to drivers using their vehicles commercially are pooled with my non-commercial activities.

A call to police services reveals that cops consider this a matter of licensing unless a driver is breaking the Highway Traffic Act. Constable Clint Stibbe raises an interesting thought, however, as we wind up the call.

“Right now, police cars, rentals cars and taxis that are decommissioned have to be registered with the Ministry so as to be readily and honestly identified to buyers. Where’s the protection for buyers buying a car that hasn’t been flagged but has been used commercially?”

Uber may indeed end up being too big to fail as riders vote with their wallets, and their phones. But until licensing commissions and politicians sort out the fine print, your biggest concern if you plan on driving for Uber in Canada isn’t whether you can use the HOV lanes – it’s whether your insurance will kick you to the curb.


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ICBC’s tips for teaching your teen to be a safe driver

ICBC’s tips for teaching your teen to be a safe driver

Every day in B.C., 129 teens get their learner’s licence. With students out for summer break, that number peaks in our province as teens are eager to spend their free time learning to drive and becoming more independent.

In an ICBC survey, 29 per cent of parents surveyed believed their teens had picked up a bad driving habit from them. The most common habits were speeding, not coming to a complete stop, impatience, eating while driving and not shoulder checking. Survey respondents also revealed that if they could teach their teen over again, they would enroll them in professional driving lessons.

ICBC’s top five tips for parents:

1. Set a good example: Once your teen has passed the knowledge and vision tests, they’ll get a class 7 learner’s licence and can now get behind the wheel with a qualified supervisor. Review your teen’s copy of ICBC’s Tuning Up for Drivers guide to brush up on the rules of the road, work on any bad driving habits and learn about the restrictions of each stage of the graduated licensing program so that you can make sure your teen follows them.

2. Gearing up: The type of car your teen learns to drive on can make a big difference. It’s best to learn on a vehicle that’s a manageable size, has good visibility, an automatic transmission and as many safety features as possible. Begin your driving lessons on roads with minimal traffic and avoid rush hour congestion to help build your teen’s confidence and ease their nerves.

3. Call in the experts: To help your teen gain as much driving experience as possible consider signing them up for lessons through a professional driving school if you can. Instructors can be objective without the emotion that’s often involved in parent-teen relationships. If you do choose this route, stay involved and discuss what they’re learning.

4. Test it out: To prepare for your teen’s road test, practice driving as much as possible at different times of the day, in different weather and road conditions and in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. That way they’ll be prepared for whatever conditions they encounter on the day of their road test. Teens can also take ICBC’s road ready quiz to help them avoid common driving mistakes.

5. Keep them safe: Once your teen has passed their class 7 road test and can now drive without a supervisor, consider creating a family contract. It helps set out your expectations of your teen, the responsibilities you want them to show on the road and the consequences for breaking those rules.

If your teen will be driving your vehicle, review your insurance coverage. If your vehicle is rated in an experienced rate class (all drivers in a household with at least 10 years’ driving experience), you’ll need to change the rate class.

Teens can find the redesigned practice knowledge test, video driving tips and road signs practice test on The practice knowledge test can also be downloaded as an app free from the Apple App

Media contact:
Lindsay Olsen

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