Does My Car Insurance Cover Me in Canada?

Niagara Falls Canada
Getty Images/Allard Schager

Are you planning a trip to Canada? Great news, United States car insurance policies will cover you and your car when you cross the northern border. All United States policies cover the United States, its territories and possessions, and Canada. However, crossing the United States Border into Canada is not as easy as it used to be. Prepare to show your passport or birth certificate, valid driver's license, declare alcohol, tobacco, firearms, food, vehicle registration, and of course having proof of car insurance ready to go is highly recommended.

What You Need to Know About Car Insurance

Most people will tell you to get a special car insurance card from your car insurance called 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 could "potentially" get fined for not having it.

The Problem

I would not be shocked if you called your car insurance carrier today and they did not offer such a card. It does not mean you are not covered in Canada, it just means they do not have a special Canadian proof of insurance card. So, what do you do? 

  • Bring a copy of your declarations page. The declaration page will list all of your coverage per each vehicle on your policy.
  • Have your current proof of car insurance available.
  • If you are really worried, ask your insurance agent to include a letter stating your policy will, in fact, cover you in Canada and have him or her sign it.

    Review Your Car Insurance Policy

    It is always a good idea to review your car insurance policy on a regular basis to verify you have the coverage you want. Going on a trip is the perfect time to review your policy. You do not need to make specific changes to get into Canada, but it is a good idea to know what is recommended.

    Preferred Car Insurance Limits in Canada

    Liability is money that is paid out to another party when you damage their property or possibly cause injury to another person when using your automobile. Liability is the most important coverage on a car insurance policy, which is why it is a mandatory coverage. Knowing what Canada requires of its residents gives you an idea of what would be adequate coverage for you.

    • Most of Canada requires $200,000 liability.
    • Quebec requires $50,000 liability.

    Preferred Car Insurance Limits in the United States

    Each state has its own set minimum liability limit requirement. The minimum is often not enough. Most insurance agents would recommend the following unless you have substantial assets, then you should definitely consider higher limits. Talk with your insurance agent if you are not sure what limits you should select.

    • $100,000 / $300,000 liability which means there is coverage in an accident of up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

    More Important Car Insurance Coverage

    • Personal Injury Protection or Med Pay: Many states require a minimum amount of medical coverage on your auto policy. Ask your insurance agent about recommended limits for your situation. Ask your employer what your personal insurance will cover in an auto accident. It is definitely better to know ahead of time what is and is not covered.
    • Comprehensive Coverage: This coverage will repair your vehicle if it is damaged by something other than a collision. It can be a very valuable coverage because it protects against so many things. You can file a claim for fire, theft, vandalism, hitting an animal, tree fall, weather related claim and more.
    • Collision CoverageCollision often comes in handy. You never know when an accident could strike. Nobody ever plans on getting an accident and causing thousands of dollars of damage to their vehicle. If you want help getting your car repaired after an accident involving another car or inanimate object, you need collision coverage listed on your car insurance policy.
    • Roadside Assistance: Breaking down while on a trip is never fun. Relieve some of the stress by adding roadside assistance to your policy. Most likely you will need to be reimbursed for a tow when you are in Canada. Make sure to save your receipt and file your claim when you get home.
    • Rental Car CoverageA convenient coverage is rental car coverage. If your vehicle is damaged in a covered accident, rental car reimbursement would provide money towards renting a car while your vehicle is out of commission. Rental car coverage can be used anytime your vehicle can not be driven due to a covered loss, even if you are away on vacation.

    Know Your Deductible

    Deductibles usually apply to comprehensive coverage and collision coverage and even medical coverage sometimes. A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your car insurance pays out. The higher your deductible the lower your cost of insurance. Know your deductible and try your best to keep that amount in an emergency fund so you have it in case of an accident.

    Having the right coverage for your needs is clearly important, but knowing what your coverage does for you is also extremely important. Not understanding a policy is a very common reason why people get frustrated at the time of calling in a claim. Thinking you are covered for something then finding out you are not can be devastating. 

    Traveling to Canada for business or pleasure should be a good experience. Do not get caught up at the border crossing because you do not have your paperwork in order. Have everything easily accessible. Remove your hat and sunglasses so you are easily recognizable when compared against your photo identification. Always declare items which need to be declared. Being prepared and forthcoming with border patrol will make things much easier and hopefully faster.

    Helpful Links for Planning a Trip to Canada