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How does Ontario auto insurance work?

There are three things you need to know about Ontario car insurance:

1) Ontario law requires that all drivers have auto insurance.

It is a legal requirement for drivers in Ontario to obtain car insurance on their vehicle, but there are also minimal coverage types and conditions drivers must have, including third-party liability, statutory accident benefit, DC-PD, and uninsured automobile insurance. These requirements are baked into provincial providers' standard auto insurance policy coverages. Drivers can purchase additional coverage or optional coverages to provide more robust protection coverage to support their auto insurance needs.

2) Auto insurance in Ontario operates under a no-fault system.

Despite the name, no-fault insurance system does not mean that no one is at fault. Instead, drivers are required to go through their own insurance company when making a claim regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

3) Ontario car insurance also operates under a private insurance model.

Ontario drivers must purchase insurance policies directly from private insurance companies who compete for business like any other private business. You can purchase insurance from insurance brokers, insurance agents and direct writers, aka directly from the insurance providers. Shop the market and compare car insurance quotes today.

Ontario car insurance eligibility and restrictions

Auto insurance is mandatory in Ontario, but that doesn’t mean all vehicles and drivers are eligible for standard market car insurance. Some drivers may have to be covered under a high-risk insurance company. Here’s what you need to be eligible for standard market personal car insurance in Ontario.

Valid driver’s licence

  • Must have valid driver’s license
  • All people listed on the policy must also have a valid license
  • Must have a G, G2, G1 or equivalent

Residency

  • Must be a Canadian resident
  • Must reside in Ontario

Vehicle type & usage

Good legal standing

  • Serious prior convictions, past insurance losses, and claims can affect your eligibility
  • Previous fraud convictions will almost guarantee you won’t be eligible
  • Not disclosing information that can affect your policy can make your insurance null and void

Standard auto insurance coverage in Ontario

Ontario auto insurance policies are standardized and comprised of four mandatory types of car insurance coverage. All four of these types of car insurance coverage are included in a basic car insurance policy.

When comparing quotes, keep in mind that unless you’ve indicated additional coverage, all quotes provided are for standard auto insurance coverage. You always have the option to increase your coverage amounts and purchase additional car insurance coverage as well. When adding things to your policy, it is likely your quote will change to reflect this coverage.

Mandatory auto insurance coverage in Ontario:

Third-party liability

Provides coverage in the event someone is injured or killed in an accident or their property is damaged, resulting in a lawsuit. Liability insurance covers the costs of settling these claims up to your coverage amount.

Mandatory minimum coverage amount: $200,000 minimum, but higher amounts are often recommended.

Statutory accident benefits

Provides coverage for a number of benefits in the event you are injured in an automobile accident, regardless of who is at fault. These benefits cover medical expenses such as physiotherapy and other expenses not covered by OHIP. All maximum payouts are subject to eligibility as outlined in your car insurance policy. You can purchase additional coverage for most of these statutory accident benefits.

  • Income Replacement Benefits: Basic weekly income replacement of 70% of your gross income up to $400/wk.
  • Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits: Up to $65,000 for serious injuries and $1 million for catastrophic injuries.
  • Caregiver Benefits: Up to $250 per week for the first dependant and $50 per week for each dependent after that.
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Expenses: Maximum payout $100 per week.
  • Death and Funeral Benefits: Up to $25,000 is provided to your spouse, $10,000 for each dependent, and up to $6,000 in funeral costs in the event you are killed in an automobile accident.

Direct compensation-property damage (DC-PD)

Covers damage to your vehicle or loss of use of your vehicle and its contents in the event another person is at fault. There are additional caveats to this type of coverage. The accident must have happened in Ontario and involved at least one other insured vehicle. If you seek additional vehicle coverage, you’ll want to purchase collision insurance.

No defined mandatory amount. This type of coverage is for your vehicle so long as it meets eligibility.

Uninsured Automobile

Provides coverage in the event you are injured or killed by an uninsured driver or as the result of a hit-and-run. Can also cover damage to your vehicle if caused by an identified uninsured driver. See statutory accident benefits coverage above.

Optional auto insurance coverage in Ontario:

In addition to increasing coverage amounts for third-party liability insurance and statutory accident benefits, there are also a number of different types of optional insurance coverages you can add to protect your vehicle, the most common being collision and comprehensive car insurance coverage.

  • Collision coverage/upset coverage - Covers losses to your vehicle if you're involved in a collision with another object, including another vehicle or an object in or on the ground.
  • Comprehensive coverage - Covers listed perils identified under specified perils coverage and damage caused by falling/flying objects, missiles, and vandalism.
  • Specified perils coverage - Covers losses from fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, rising water, theft, attempted theft, earthquakes, explosions, and other named perils as identified in your policy.
  • All perils coverage - Combines collision and comprehensive coverage and provides additional protections.


You can also broaden your coverage with endorsements, another form of optional coverage. These are special contracts that amend a standard policy. For example, some endorsements will protect your premium from rising after your first at-fault accident, and there are ones that ensure depreciation won't be deducted from a claims settlement. Here are some of the endorsements available in Ontario.

  • Suspension of coverage: This allows you to suspend your insurance coverage for 30 days or more during periods when you aren't using the car.
  • Transportation replacement: Provides compensation to pay for other means of transportation if your car is unusable due to a covered peril.
  • Liability for damage to non-owned automobile(s): Covers damage caused to a rented or leased car.
  • Accident forgiveness: Ensures your premium will not increase after your first at-fault collision for as long as you remain with the same insurer.
  • Waiver of depreciation: Ensures your insurance company won't factor in depreciation when settling a claim; you will receive the amount you initially paid for the car.
  • Family protection coverage: Ensures your costs are covered if you and your family are involved in an accident with a driver with less liability insurance than you. This endorsement will cover the remainder.
  • Limited glass: For a lower premium, you can limit or exclude any coverage for glass damage that might've been in your policy.
  • Fire and theft deductible: Adds a deductible (an amount you must pay before your insurance company chips in funds) for a theft or fire damage claim.

Please note that these optional coverages may have their own deductibles.

What is accident forgiveness coverage in Ontario?

Accident forgiveness is a type of car insurance coverage that allows drivers to have one at-fault accident (their first) without seeing an increase in their car insurance premiums. Typically, if a driver is found to be at-fault in a major accident, it's guaranteed they’ll see their premiums increase since they are now considered higher risk. However, some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness to acknowledge that sometimes good drivers make mistakes.

You are not automatically covered for accident forgiveness, and there are limitations to this type of coverage:

  • Some companies in Ontario include accident forgiveness as part of their standard policy for eligible drivers, while others may offer it as optional coverage at an additional charge. Some companies don't offer it at all.
  • Each company has its own rules and limitations as to the extent of the coverage.
  • There will be eligibility criteria that you must meet in order to obtain accident forgiveness coverage, such as already being accident-free for a defined period of time (usually six years)
  • Accident forgiveness may be honoured by the insurance company, but if you switch to a new provider, that provider will see an at-fault accident on your record and charge you accordingly.
  • Typically protects the primary driver only.
  • Is void if you are convicted of a major driving offence.

In Ontario, insurers cannot increase your premiums for minor at-fault accidents where the following occurred:

  • Nobody was hurt
  • There was less than $2,000 in damages to each vehicle
  • There was no insurance payout
  • Any damages were paid for by the a-fault driver.

This is limited to one occurrence every three years. Thus, accident forgiveness coverage is meant more for first-time accidents that cause more significant damage.

Be sure you fully understand your accident forgiveness coverage and limitations, as you wouldn't want any surprises in the event of an accident.

What is the process for filing an auto insurance claim in Ontario?

If you are involved in an accident resulting in injury or damage, you must report it to a police collision reporting centre within 24 hours and within seven days to your insurance company to file an auto insurance claim, no matter who is at fault. Failure to do so could result in your insurance company not honouring your claim. As a best practice, you should report your accident as soon as possible, though final cut-off times may vary by provider.

Once you report the accident to your insurance company and file a claim, an insurance claims adjuster will be assigned to your case to determine fault. In the insurance world, someone is always partially or fully at fault. This is so that insurance companies can determine who pays what damages, and that the at-fault driver's premiums are reflected accordingly. Insurance companies base this decision on the Fault Determination Rules, a legal insurance act governed by the Province of Ontario.

Once fault is determined, payouts will be processed. If you are at fault, your rates may increase upon renewal. If you disagree with the outcome of an insurance investigation, you can contact the claims manager or the insurance company ombudsperson to help you resolve the issue. The name of the insurance company ombudsperson is usually listed on the company website as well as with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). This is the governing body that oversees auto insurance in Ontario.

Frequently asked questions about Ontario car insurance

Is car insurance mandatory in order to legally drive in Ontario?

Yes, car insurance is mandatory in order to legally drive in Ontario. Vehicles must have insurance or else drivers risk serious fines starting at $5,000 upon a first conviction. Drivers must purchase coverage from a private insurance company. The same is true for drivers in Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

How do you prove you have auto insurance in Ontario?

By law, you must carry proof of auto insurance with you when you’re driving, even if you’re not the owner of the car.

Proof of insurance must be stored in the car at all times. If you’re lending someone your car, you must make sure they know the location of the certificate or transfer a digital copy to them.

The fines for not being able to show insurance when stopped by police ranges from $50 to $500 plus surcharges.

A charge of failing to surrender insurance is a separate offence from not having insurance in the first place, or falsifying insurance (the penalty for those ranges from $5,000 to $50,000, plus having your licence suspended and car impounded).

The following forms of proof are acceptable, according to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA):

  • Physical certificate (sometimes called a ‘pink slip’)
  • Digital certificate (can be stored on your smart phone)
  • An insurance binder (a document that acts as temporary proof of insurance)

Auto insurance companies in Ontario 

Ontario drivers have a lot of car insurance providers to choose from.

More than 100 insurance brands operate in the province, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. To give you a sense of the scale of Ontario's market, the IBC says the total number of operational property and casualty insurance companies was 192 in 2021. That means approximately 50% of all property and casualty companies in Canada operate in Ontario.

However, most car insurance brands you recognize are owned by parent companies (referred to as "insurer groups" in the industry).

When looking at market share (a business metric that measures a company's sales to the total sales within a particular industry), 84% of car insurance sales can be traced to 13 parent companies. The top 10 make up 79% of all sales.

Why is Ontario’s auto insurance market so consolidated? 

For a while now, mergers and acquisitions have been a popular way for large insurance companies to grow even larger. Industry experts foresee the trend continuing for many more years.

That may sound off alarm bells for Canadians, who are all too familiar with the impact consolidation has on phone and Internet prices.

So, do Ontarians have merely the illusion of choice when it comes to insurance providers? Not entirely.

How competitive is Ontario’s car insurance market, really?

Insurance brands that are owned by larger companies often have their own underwriting standards. Translated, this means they cater to different clienteles.

For instance, Intact Insurance is a mainstream car insurance provider, but it purchased Jevco, one of Ontario's leading non-standard insurance providers.

Still, given how Ontario's car insurance market is composed, it's still a good idea to shop around for car insurance to see what savings are out there.

See below to learn which group owns which insurance brand.

The 13 largest auto insurer groups in Ontario

1) Intact Insurance

In 2021, Intact Insurance had a market share of 17.5% in Ontario. The following brands fall under the Intact umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed after their name.

  • Jevco Insurance Company - 0.7921%
  • Intact Insurance Company - 10.5495%
  • Belair Insurance Company Inc. - 6.1341%
  • Novex Insurance Company - 0.0000%
  • The Guarantee Company of North America - 0.0000%

2) Desjardins

In 2021, Desjardins had a market share of 15.7% in Ontario. The following brands fall under the Desjardins umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Certas Direct Insurance Company - 2.0168%
  • Certas Home and Auto Insurance Company - 9.6456%
  • The Personal Insurance Company - 4.0285%

3) TD Insurance

In 2021, TD Insurance's share of the Ontario auto insurance market was 10.4%. The following brands fall under the TD umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Primmum Insurance Company - 1.5462%
  • TD General Insurance Company - 2.2022%
  • Security National Insurance Company - 6.6744%

4) Aviva

In 2021, Aviva's market share in Ontario was 8.6%. The following brands fall under the Aviva umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Aviva Insurance Company of Canada - 5.6883%
  • Scottish & York Insurance Co. Limited - 1.0496%
  • Traders General Insurance Company - 1.5101%
  • S & Y Insurance Company - 0.3527%

5) Allstate

In 2021, Allstate had a market share of 8.6% in Ontario. The following brands fall under the Allstate umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Pafco Insurance company - 0.3110%
  • Pembridge Insurance Company - 2.7045%
  • Allstate Insurance Company of Canada - 5.5475%

6) Co-operators

In 2021, The Co-operators had a market share of 7.8% in Ontario. The following brands fall under The Co-operators umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • CUMIS General Insurance Company - 0.4550%
  • Co-operators General Insurance Company - 7.3258%

7) Definity Group

In 2021, Definity Group controlled 7.8% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the Definity Group umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

8) CAA

In 2021, CAA controlled 4.4% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the CAA umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

9) Travelers

In 2021, Travelers controlled 3% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the Travelers umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company - 3.0203%

10) Wawanesa

In 2021, Wawanesa controlled 3% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the Wawanesa umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company - 3.0106%

11) RSA Canada

In 2021, RSA Canada controlled 2.3% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the RSA Canada umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Unifund Assurance Company - 2.2645%
  • Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Company of Canada - 0.0000%
  • Western Assurance Company - 0.0000%

12) Gore Mutual

In 2021, Gore Mutual controlled 1.6% of the Ontario auto insurance market. It does not own any other brands.

13) Northbridge Insurance

In 2021, Northbridge Insurance controlled 1.5% of the Ontario auto insurance market. The following brands fall under the Northbridge umbrella. Individual market share data for 2021 is listed beside the insurer's name.

  • Zenith Insurance Company - 0.4363%
  • Verassure Insurance Company - 0.2610%
  • Federated Insurance Company of Canada - 0.0311%
  • Northbridge General Insurance Corporation - 0.7768%

*Shoppers in Ontario who obtained a quote on InsuranceHotline.com from October to December 2021 saved an average of $744 per year. The average savings represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third lowest quoted premiums generated by InsuranceHotline.com.