You have just passed your road test, and your vehicle has been successfully inspected and registered, so what’s the next step? Before you can legally drive in Alberta you need to understand the differences between the many types of auto insurance and the degrees of coverage they offer. Not all insurance is mandatory to operate your vehicle in Alberta, so here is a quick guide to understanding the provincial requirements and the penalties for disobeying them.
PERSONAL LIABILITY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE INSURANCE
Before you can drive your vehicle, it is mandatory by provincial law to have a minimum of $200,000 in insurance and accident benefits coverage. In Alberta, any coverage beyond this considered to be optional auto insurance coverage. Personal liability and property damage insurance, commonly referred to as third-party liability insurance, is mandatory for all drivers in Alberta. It covers damages your vehicle causes to another person or their property. All drivers in Alberta qualify for the coverage this basic car insurance provides under the All Comers Rule. Under this rule, no insurance company in Alberta can refuse to provide mandatory coverage to new drivers. However, there are some exceptions to the All Comers Rule which include payment issues with previous insurers or insurance fraud.
To operate a vehicle in Alberta, drivers are required by law to have accident benefits. In the case of an injury or death, passengers in a vehicle are covered regardless of who is at fault. Accident benefits include medical and rehabilitation costs, death benefits, income replacement, funeral expenses, and uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver.
Driving uninsured in Alberta is illegal and those driving without valid auto insurance can face a number of penalties for breaking the law.
- A first offense fine will cost you a minimum of $2,875 but you can pay up to $10,000. If you fail to pay this fine you can spend 45 days to six months in jail
- If you are caught driving without insurance within five years of your first offense, you will be fined a minimum of $5,000 but can be charged up to $20,000. Failure to pay this fine will result in increased jail time – from 60 days to six months.
- While you will not receive demerit points in Alberta for driving without insurance, your insurance rates will drastically increase.
- If deemed necessary, a judge can order a driver’s license suspension resulting in you losing the right to drive.
Be smart, drive insured! If you are found responsible for a collision, you are personally responsible for any bodily injury costs. On average, a bodily injury claim is more than $15,000. These costs are covered by your auto insurance policy, but if you drive uninsured you must pay out of pocket. If you leave the scene of an accident before police and first responders arrive, there are some serious consequences including a $2,000 fine, six months in prison, and seven demerit points.