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6 Common Car Insurance Questions Answered

November 17, 2010

Auto insurance can be a complex subject, and you aren’t the only one with questions. Here are six of the most commonly asked questions about car insurance in Canada- and we have the answers for you:

1.   Can you eat (legally) while driving in Ontario?

Surprisingly – yes, you can eat and drink (non-alcoholic beverages) while driving. This likely comes as a relief, since most drivers are guilty of eating and/or drinking while operating a motor vehicle. However, what you should know is that if you were to be involved in or cause an accident while eating or doing another “non-driving” activity, (adjusting the radio, etc) then you can be charged with reckless driving, which will increase your car insurance rates substantially.

2.   Can you refuse a sobriety test in Canada?

The simple answer is no, you can’t refuse a sobriety test. If you are asked to submit to a sobriety test by a police officer and you refuse, you will be charged with the equivalent of a drinking and driving offence. You are also likely be arrested and required to submit to the test eventually regardless. The best advice? Just don’t drink and drive. You’ll be making the roads safer for everyone, and you’ll avoid the embarrassing and costly consequences that accompany drinking and driving convictions.

 3.   Do you have to report tickets to your insurance company?

You aren’t required to report tickets to your insurance provider as an insured driver, but your auto insurance provider will find out about them regardless. Insurance companies can randomly check your driving history, and often do this at your renewal date. You are, however, required to disclose any and all convictions and accidents when you are applying for new Canadian auto insurance. If you’re shopping around for better insurance rates, make sure that you disclose all infractions, as you could receive an unpleasant and expensive surprise when you obtain new insurance if you haven’t been upfront in the quoting process by providing complete and correct information.

4.   Do you need to report an accident to your insurance company if it’s not your fault?

Any time you have an accident you should report it to your car insurance company, even it if isn’t your fault. Claims resolution will go much more smoothly if both sides have all the information.

5.   Do you need to report all types of accidents to your insurance company?

Absolutely. Accidents should be reported to your insurance company, as well as to the police if there are any injuries, potential for injuries, or if there is damage above $1,000. Failure to report an accident to your insurance company can result in a delay or non-payment of resulting claims.

6.   Do you really need car insurance in Canada?

Every vehicle driven in Canada needs to be insured with a minimum of liability insurance. Liability insurance protects the public from damages caused by a driver in the event that a collision occurs. This includes personal injuries, property damage, and damage to public property. Driving without insurance can result in large fines, vehicle impoundment, and a suspended license, and having an accident without insurance can result in all of the aforementioned, as well as serious financial liability if you are at fault.

Many drivers have questions about car insurance – even if they’ve been driving for decades. Ensuring that you have the answers to your questions about premiums, coverage, traffic tickets, and other auto insurance topics will allow you to make the best decisions about your policies and your actions behind the wheel. Canadian car insurance doesn’t have to be confusing – we have the answers.

  • Scott

    In regards to question one, driving while eating, the answer given is not completely accurate. Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any person or property on or around the driver’s seat which would interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle. This section states:

    162. Crowding driver’s seat – No person shall drive a motor vehicle with persons or property in the front or driver’s seat so placed as to interfere with the proper management or control of the motor vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 162.

    This section does include food and is widely used by law enforcement in Ontario. That’s not to say if you’re eating a chocolate bar or drinking a cup of coffee while driving you’ll be ticketed, but more for the person eating a Big Mac while driving with their knee. As for the Reckless Driving charged mentioned, in Ontario it is called Careless Driving, the later being the American version. This charge holds a fine of $490 and 6 demerit points. Dangerous Driving under the Criminal Code of Canada is also an option given the circumstance or severity of the incident. In short, concentrate on the road and eat before you leave.

  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello Scott,

    Thanks for providing this great information.

  • amanda

    I got a careless driving ticket in an accident.. but i am not yet convicted and have set a court date. My claim with mhy insurance policy is asking whether or not i was given a ticket but i DONT want to answer this as I have not been convicted of any offences until proven guilty in a court of law. Am i required to answer this question now? or can I wait for the results of the court date and then tell them what ticket i received. i once told them about a ticket before the conviction, and it was withdrawn yet they still penalized me regardless that it was not ever on my abstract.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello Amanda,

    You should let your broker know exactly what happened. Your conviction date will be the effective date of offense.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    I don’t know of any companies who will offer you a better rate if you take a driving course after an at fault accident. You are best to shop around and see if you can find something affordable. Check out http://www.insurancehotline.com.

    Good luck

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    You are probably best to obtain legal advice on this. I am not sure what the laws are in your city.

    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    that does not go on your driving record.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    It depends on the application requirements. In Canada they ask for convictions in the last 3 years and licence suspensions in the last 6 years.

  • sam


    Say a person x drives his vehicle during the summer only and had their insurance canceled come fall. The pink slip on person x shows insurance validity till next summer.

    What if person x for some reason decided to take the car out for a spin one sunny fall afternoon and happened to be pulled over by the cops and showed the pink slip that says insurance is valid for another 6-8 months.

    Can the cops find out the insurance has been cancelled?

  • Jean

    If a person is under doctor’s orders to not drive because of hip surgery and they go ahead and drive and are involved in an accident, do they have insurance coverage?

  • Barbara Langille

    if I went through a yellow caution light and was stopped . given a ticket and the officer said the car beside me was stopped that I was being given a ticket. @ things..the car beside me was stopped because he was turning left..and the officer said on ticket it was a red light. I have 2 witnesses to verify it was not red but if I had to pay would my ins double

  • Barbara Langille

    I also have a clean driving record

  • curious

    if you”re given a policy number and are waiting on a response from the insurance company can you be charge even if you were just sitting in your car even though you wasn’t pulled over or stopped

  • InsuranceHotline

    what province are you insured in?