With travel restrictions loosening between Canada and the United States, many Canadian drivers are thinking about planning a cross-border road trip. Get the facts about what you need in order to drive outside of the country safely and legally before your next great international adventure.
The good news is that as an insured Canadian driver, you don’t need to purchase special traveller’s auto insurance for driving in the United States.
The Ontario insurance system provides “no-fault” coverage, which means that if you get in an accident in Canada or the USA, your insurance company will pay the benefits you’re entitled to regardless of whether you are found to be responsible for the collision. Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI also operate under a no-fault insurance system.
With no-fault coverage, you can process accident claims directly through your insurer rather than having to worry about claim payouts from another driver’s insurance policy, which could be challenging while you’re travelling.
As much variation as there is among Canadian provinces when it comes to minimum car insurance requirements, there’s even more variation within the United States. While every state legally requires at-fault drivers to pay liability fees after an accident, insurance laws in certain states make it more likely for you to be sharing the road with uninsured or underinsured drivers. For example, in Virginia and South Carolina, drivers can legally avoid paying for car insurance by paying a state uninsured motorist fee.
At the same time, states like Florida have significantly lower minimum liability insurance coverage requirements than the $200,000 minimum third-party liability coverage required in Ontario. For these reasons, it’s crucial to secure adequate uninsured automobile coverage from your insurance provider before heading across the border.
Like driving in another Canadian province, every US state has a unique set of rules for those driving with a learner’s permit. Check if the jurisdiction you plan on driving in has any specific regulations for Canadian G1 and G2 motorists.
Always follow the G1 and G2 driving restrictions outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and be aware of other vital rules like the region’s legal driving age. Avoid letting any driver without a G licence drive on highways and interstates unless you’re sure it is permitted under Ontario and local laws. Breaking either jurisdiction’s rules for driving within the restrictions of a learner’s permit could cause your insurance company to deny an accident claim, so caution and responsibility of more experienced driving companions are critical.
Canadian auto insurance policies don’t cover you and your vehicle south of the US-Mexico border. So if you’re planning on driving in Mexico, you’ll need to purchase additional traveller’s car insurance from a reputable Mexican auto insurance provider or broker underwritten by one to avoid potential financial and legal penalties.
Don’t let your Canadian auto policy lapse if you’re travelling with your vehicle outside of Canada and the US for extended periods, as this will void your vehicle’s registration and make it illegal to drive in any country. However, you can speak with your insurance provider about cancelling any policy add-ons like comprehensive coverage when you’re away and reinstating it as soon as you return.
Some credit card providers offer rental car insurance and other travel protections like accident medical benefits. However, while these benefits are generally available in most countries, they don’t typically cover third-party liability benefits or coverage for lost or stolen items. Confirm the details and limitations of your combined credit card and auto insurance policy coverage before your trip so you can make additional insurance arrangements if necessary.
While you don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the US and Northern Mexico (check with individual Mexican state laws), one may be recommended or required to operate and rent a vehicle farther away from home. To be eligible for an IDP, you must:
● Be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
● Be at least 18 years old.
● Have a valid G license.
Canadians need to apply for an IDP through the Canadian Automobile Association. There are no road or written tests required to obtain an International Driving Permit. Still, you will need to submit all necessary application documents and pay a fee, including any mailing fees.
Before you begin your international road trip, go over the details of your route with your insurance provider to ensure you have coverage for every leg of your journey. Don’t forget to secure the travel insurance you need and make sure your home is vacation-proof while you’re away. Once these less exciting (but crucial) details are taken care of, you’ll be free to explore the open road with as few worries as possible!
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