Are you planning a trip to Canada in your car? Don't forget to check your insurance—while nearly all policies in the country cover the United States, its territories, and Canada, it's a good idea to make sure it covers you before you leave.
Learn what auto insurance you need and what you need to bring if you decide to visit our northern neighbor.
- Most auto policies in the United States cover you in Canada. You should also get an insurance card the police will recognize.
- The limits in Canada might differ from your state. Talk to your agent to make sure you meet any minimums.
- It's best to review your policy and talk to your agent to ensure your plan covers you across the northern border.
Review Your Policy
It is always good to review your policy to ensure you have the coverage you need. Going on a trip is the perfect time to do a review. You may not need to make any insurance changes to get into Cananda, but it is good to know what you need to have just in case.
Know the Car Insurance Limits
Liability is coverage that pays out to another party when you cause damages or injury while driving. If you got in a wreck and didn't have liability, you'd end up paying the other driver's repair bills and medical costs.
Minimum coverage limits are higher in Canada than they are in most states. The limits are:
- Most provinces: $200,000 liability (Canadian dollars)
- Quebec: $50,000 liability (Canadian dollars)
Most large insurance companies extend their U.S. coverage into Canada. Your agent might recommend getting higher limits to ensure you have enough coverage to meet the higher minimums. Some minimums they might suggest are:
- $100,000 / $300,000 liability—this means there is coverage in an accident of up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
You may want to select more if you can afford it. Talk with your agent if you are not sure what limits you should choose.
Know Your Deductible
Deductibles usually apply to comprehensive, collision, and sometimes medical coverage. A deductible is an amount you pay before your car insurance does. The higher your deductible is, the lower your monthly premiums are. Know your deductible and try your best to keep that amount in an account, so you have it in case you need it.
What You Need To Bring
You should bring your passport and driver's license. You should also have uploaded your proof of COVID vaccination in ArriveCAN and received a traveler receipt that you'll need to bring. ArriveCAN is an app you use to enter your traveler information. If you have not received your full vaccination, submitted your information through ArriveCAN, and printed out the receipt, you may not be able to enter Canada.
Ensure you review the Canadian government's visitor information pages for updates to travel information before planning a trip.
Current vehicle registration and proof of car insurance are required when you plan on driving across the border. Also, make sure you declare (or don't bring) any alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or food when you cross.
You might be able to get a special card from your agent called a Motor Vehicle Liability Card or Canada Inter-Province Card. If you get pulled over in Canada, and the police officer asks to see it, you might get fined for not having one.
What to Do if You Can't Get the Insurance Card
If your carrier doesn't offer this card, it does not mean you are not covered. It just means you won't have the correct proof of insurance card. So, what do you do?
- Bring a copy of your declarations page. This page will list all of your coverage per each auto on your policy.
- Have your current proof of car insurance ready.
- Have your agent write a letter stating your policy will cover you in Canada and have them sign it.
Other Car Insurance Coverage
Besides the minimums, you might want to consider other coverage for yourself and your car if you don't already have them. These coverages can keep you from paying costly repair or medical costs if something happens while you're driving through the U.S. and Canada.
Personal Injury or Med Pay
Many states require a minimum amount of medical coverage on your auto policy. Ask your agent about the limits you need for the trip. Be sure to talk to your health insurance provider to see if the policy covers injuries from auto accidents and health issues in Canada. If it doesn't, you might need to purchase traveler's health insurance.
This coverage pays for the repairs on your car if it is damaged by something other than a collision. You should be able to make claims for fire, theft, vandalism, animal strikes, a tree fall, a weather-related claim, and much more.
Collision is good to have because you never know when you might be in a wreck—it covers damage caused by an accident. This differs from liability because collision pays for damages no matter who is at fault; liability only pays for damage to the other person's car if you're at fault.
While comprehensive and collision increase your premiums, it can be more then made up for after only one accident that causes thousands of dollars of damage.
Breaking down while on a trip is never fun. You can relieve some of the stress by adding this rider to your policy. If your car breaks down and you call for help, make sure to save your receipt and file the claim when you get home.
Rental Car Coverage
A rental car may not be included in your policy. If it isn't, you might think about buying the coverage. Rental car coverage can be used when your car can not be driven due to a loss your policy covers, even if you are away on vacation.
The right insurance coverage can make all the difference when you travel. You should know what your policy covers and what it doesn't before you leave. The time you need help isn't the time to find out that your policy doesn't cover something. Take the time before you drive to figure out what is covered and what isn't, and then think about getting extra coverage if you think you might need it.
Being ready for and upfront with border patrol will make things much easier than if you're not. Ensure you have your paperwork in order and have everything within reach before you get to the border. If you wear a hat or sunglasses, take them off so the agents can get a good look at you and your ID.
Also, before you leave, make sure you don't have any items that cannot be taken across the border, and be prepared to keep all of your receipts for anything you buy during your visit. You may need to present them to customs when you return.