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Does temporary car insurance in Ontario exist?

January 21, 2015

I often get this question, about temporary car insurance in Ontario, usually from one of two groups of drivers:

  1. visitors to Canada who are planning on buying a car, instead of renting, for the time they’re travelling (usually people who are planning on being here for a month or two, or more), or
  2. residents who—in the process of transferring ownership of a car—need to get a temporary licence plate sticker.

Temporary Car Insurance In Ontario (or short term car insurance)

The fact is, in Ontario, not all insurance companies offer temporary car insurance. Check with an insurance broker to see if they have a company who will issue a short-term policy. You might have to go through the Facility Association.

Car insurance in Ontario is typically sold for 12-month periods, although you can sometimes get a 6-month policy too. That’s not to say you can’t get out of a policy though, you would just need to cancel it. However, cancelling mid-policy often comes with a cancellation fee. These fees vary by company, the price of your policy and how far along you are into your current contract.

So does that mean travellers coming to Canada have to buy a short term 6-month or 12-month car insurance policy and simply cancel it (and absorb the cancellation fee) when they’re ready to return home?

Perhaps, however visitors to Canada often abandon the idea of buying and insuring a car in Ontario when they discover that in order to insure a car in Ontario you typically need an Ontario driver’s licence. The set-up of buying, registering and insuring a car in Ontario isn’t designed for short-term, temporary, drivers.

Driving with a temporary licence plate sticker requires car insurance though doesn’t it?

Yes. You need car insurance even for a vehicle with a temporary licence plate sticker, but no, the car insurance won’t mirror the 10-day temporary licence plate sticker. A temporary licence plate sticker is intended to bridge the gap until the requirements for a regular licence plate sticker are completed. As a result, temporary car insurance doesn’t make sense given that longer term car insurance would be needed anyway once the regular sticker is obtained.

To learn more about registering and insuring a car in Ontario, visit the following Government of Ontario links:

Ask the Expert. Anne Marie Answers

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  • James Davidson

    my insurance increased 3 yrs ago and they said it was because I got a ticket for not coming to a full stop at a traffic signal when turning left.( first offence in 40 years) when the ticket expires
    will the supposed increase expire and will they give me back my the discount.

  • Jake

    I am a us resident coming up to Toronto for a day to buy a used car from a private seller. A bit overwhelmed as to what I need to drive it back. Same day. Do I need plates? Insurance other than my us insurance?

  • Jennifer Daly

    I am moving to BC from Ontario. I have a BC address. I would like to buy an RV and make the trip across Canada. How would I insure this RV to make the drive?

  • kichha

    Ontario is not setup for free trade. It has barriers on all aspects. You cannot get temporary insurance, no temporary license, without safety check. It is a mess and is set up in such a way Govt can fleece hapless citizens. Best bet for you is to hire a mover and move it across the border and then live happily forever :)

  • Frank23232

    You can get a temporary licence sticker with an Ontario without a safety check for 10 days. When you get your temp you also switch the vehicle into your name.

  • kichha

    To get a temporary sticker you need insurance. No insurance then no sticker period. But Insurance companies will not give you insurance for 10 days. They will only give you for minimum of 6 months. Thats what I mean by “trade barriers”. Ontario Govt is run by the 5 major bangs and the 7 major insurance companies. You cannot do anything flexible here that will antagonize these. They write the words of the law which our politicians need to approve. In short those financial companies determine how we live and behave.

  • Roland

    How can a visitor be insured when they rent a car in Canada (also without a canadian drivers license) but can’t buy temp. insurance on a temp. purchased car wihtin Canada?

  • James Marshall

    They are insured on the rental company’s fleet policy which is specifically written for that purpose

  • James Marshall

    I would buy the policy from ICBC as normal (if the vehicle was bought in BC, you have no choice) and ask them what the penalties are for policy cancellation. Given that you have no way of remaining with ICBC when you arrive in ON, I’m sure ICBC have procedures in place for exactly this situation

  • wayne

    if you already have car insurance and you buy another car and want temp plates to move car from one place to another place then the insurance from your existing ins. company will usually cover the vehicle for the temp plate for the (10 or 15 days) period of temp plates normally without charge but to get a temp plate to move a vehicle without certifying and e-test the purchased vehicle must remain in the persons name that you bought it from.

  • don684

    If they were threatened with government insurance it might make them smarten up ! Ontario car insurance is one big rip off ! People pay out of pocket if they have an accident now as they fear the increase in rates . The Insurance companies are getting away with murder . Just look at how your coverage has decreased if you did get injured in an accident .The amount has decreased by 80% in many cases .

  • Rowena

    My husband and i are going through a divorce and both vehicles are in his name. He took me off the insurance policy and i need to get insurance on the car that is in his name. We have a peacebond so i cant even ask him to transfer it. What can i do?

  • Donnà nèsbitt

    If my abstràct driving shows in April 2016 that my 2010 accident is finished on the abstract will the insurance company automaticàlly decrease my insurance ratè

  • Laurie H

    My daughter is on an athletic scholarship in the States. Her Ontario plated car is insured with a USA company now but we just received a notice that she needs Ontario insurance to get her plates renewed. No Ontario company will insure her while a student in the USA. Can we buy a month policy just to get Ontario plates?

  • InsuranceHotline

    They might check your driving abstract again but it doesn’t hurt to remind them.

  • Anthony

    I’m a student living away from home, is it possible to get insured for 2/3 months only or to get a policy that goes down to a nominal fee when I’m away for school?

  • Dave Holmes

    I’m Australian and my wife is from Ontario i visit every year for a month, my in-laws have an extra vehicle, what insurance if any can i get to be eligible to drive there car i’m sick of paying for a rental and there excessive insurance fee’s.

  • InsuranceHotline

    I’m not aware of any company that will issue you a policy with an Australian licence. Ask you in-laws to speak with the company where that second vehicle is insured to see if they will insure it with you as the driver.

  • Eva

    I have had my car parked for a year without insurance, now Im planning to sell it so I would need to drive it to take it for test drive etc. Can I get a temporary insurance and sticker?

  • InsuranceHotline

    you should check the MTO regarding the sticker but for insurance you should check with a broker.

  • Torsten Hoernis

    Hi Imran, I have purchased a car in Calgary and I need to drive it to Montreal to get shipped to Germany eventually. I will need insurance for one week. Calling brokers has not helped (I am Germany and have no residence in Canada – I just need insurance for the transit.) Any idea on what to do?

  • InsuranceHotline

    The only way you can obtain an auto insurance policy on a vehicle is if the vehicle is registered in your name.