Every day, you may be passing by a driver who does not have auto insurance. Some of these people may have just let their insurance lapse out of forgetfulness, but for some it’s a mindful decision that could have very bad consequences for them. Driving without insurance in Canada can lead to a heavy fine and/or licence suspension, depending on the province.
Alberta Regulations on Driving Without a Licence
The Strathcona County RCMP was surprised to find that a program they set up to crack down on impaired driving in December of 2011 netted seven people over the course of two weekends who were driving without insurance.
In Alberta, a first offence for those caught driving without insurance carries a fine of $2875 to $11,500.
A second driving without insurance charge within five years of the first can net a fine of between $5750 and $11,500. But the fine alone isn’t the end of the story.
MVAC Protects You in an Accident With an Uninsured Driver
The normal process in a vehicle accident is for the two insurers involved in the crash to compensate those involved and recover the funds from each other in a process called subrogation. If an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, not only do they not have insurance covering the medical bills, repairs, and everything else an insurer usually covers for their own costs, but they are liable for the costs of the other driver as well if they are at fault in the accident. This can result in a huge financial double hit in the event of an accident. If they are not at fault, they will still be on the hook for the fine for driving without insurance.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC), run by the Justice Department of Alberta, was set up to make sure that insurance companies and responsible drivers are compensated in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver. If the uninsured driver can’t afford a lawyer, the MVAC will act on their behalf and collect all funds from the settlement from the uninsured driver. A bankruptcy does not erase a debt owed for this purpose, so there is essentially no way out for the uninsured driver that is at-fault in an accident. While an uninsured driver can try to negotiate a private settlement instead of going to MVAC, this often won’t be accepted unless the settlement funds will be made immediately available, since the uninsured driver has already demonstrated a lack of responsibility by not having insurance.
If You Know Someone Driving Without Insurance
While it is true that uninsured drivers drive up premiums for insured drivers, as well as putting a burden on taxpayers through programs like MVAC, these arguments usually fall on deaf ears if you’re talking to an uninsured driver. The best angle to take is what their financial responsibilities would be if they got into an accident or get caught.
If you run into someone who is bragging about driving without insurance, you can report them to the police, but there is very little chance that anything will be done about it until they are either in an accident or get stopped by police since there is no proof that they are actually driving a vehicle until they are caught red-handed.
If you have a friend or family member who you know is driving without insurance, try to talk to them about it, as awkward as it can be.
If you’d rather not bring it up, send them the link to this post. They may be driving without insurance because of other financial burdens. But you should make sure they are aware of the full implications of their actions. Some people driving without insurance think that their only obligation is a small fine if they get caught, when that is clearly not the case. These drivers may also not realize just how cheap auto insurance can be, and may think the cost is preventative if they have blemishes on their driving record. Encourage them to get in touch with us for a quote and we can show them how affordable it can be.