Auto: what insurance for what damage?

Public, private, mandatory, optional, unilateral, bilateral… how to find your way around car insurance?

public insurance for all

Whether you own a car or not, you benefit from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) public plan for bodily harm (injury, death, etc.). All Quebec residents are insured under this plan, which covers accidents involving a road vehicle in Quebec or anywhere else in the world. However, the SAAQ does not protect against all damage.

Civil liability: mandatory and at your expense

If you own a car, you are required by law to have at least $50,000 in insurance to cover your liability in Canada and the United States. If you do not have this insurance and you are caught, you can be fined and have your license suspended.

This insurance covers:

  • Material damage caused to third parties with your car (for example, if you damage your neighbor’s fence when parking);
  • bodily injury and damage to another person that is not covered by the SAAQ or another public plan;
  • damage to your own car in the event of a collision, if you are not at fault for the collision.

It is this liability insurance that some people sometimes call “one-sided insurance.” You can choose to protect yourself from further damage by taking out additional private insurance.

Private insurance: optional

Unlike compulsory insurance, this insurance can cover damage to your car during a collision, even if you are at fault. In popular language, we say that we are insured “on both sides.”

Optional private insurance can also cover the theft of your car. In fact, the coverage depends on the type of protection you choose. This may include:

  • damage caused without collision (fire, flood, vandalism, etc.);
  • all-risk protection (certain damages may still be excluded in the contract);
  • specific risks (for example: earthquake, explosion).

at what price?

Your insurance premium depends on several criteria, such as your age and gender, your driving record, your place of residence, the type of vehicle you have, and its use. Some insurers will also take your credit report into account.

The protections you choose could be accompanied by an excess, that is, an amount that you will have to pay yourself in the event of a claim. Generally, the higher the cost of the deductible, the lower the amount of the monthly premiums.

Please note: You do not have to pay a deductible if you are not responsible for the accident.

If no one wants to assure you

Certain situations could complicate the purchase of your insurance, especially if you have made several claims in recent years, if you have been a bad payer or if you have a criminal record.

If you have been rejected by at least five insurers (keep records of these refusals), the Insurance Information Center can help you free of charge through a procedure called the “car insurance access mechanism”.

Informational text – This text does not constitute legal advice; It is recommended to consult a lawyer or notary for such advice. Éducaloi is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inform Quebecers of their rights and obligations in clear language.

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