Automotive coverage: What you need and how it works

Car insurance: what you need to know.

Car insurance is required in Canada and additional coverage is needed in Ontario. That being said, 2,100 uninsured vehicles are involved in accidents every year, according to The Toronto Star. Many drivers elect the minimal amount of coverage and might not know all the options for auto insurance.

How can drivers protect themselves and those around them? 

What's mandatory 
Ontario law requires drivers have a minimum level of coverage to avoid fines, license suspension or impounded vehicles, as described on the Financial Services Commission of Ontario website. Mandatory coverage includes third-party liability, statutory accident benefits and direct compensation-property damage (DC-PD) coverage. 

Third-party liability protects vehicle owners if someone else is injured or killed in an accident and is required to cover at least $200,000 in damages. If drivers themselves are injured, statutory accident benefits will provide supplementary medical and rehabilitation care and non-earner income replacement benefits. DC-PD covers damage to the vehicle involved and its contents. 

What extra coverage is available?
Many drivers choose to pay for additional insurance including higher coverage limits so they don't end up paying out of pocket in a major accident. Driving record protection is an optional add-on to avoid negative marks that could raise premiums in the future. Aside from that, insurance companies also offer emergency roadside assistance, vehicle replacement and rental vehicle liability for additional costs. 

How to handle an accident
When involved in an accident, there are certain steps to take so the claims process goes smoothly. First, stop the vehicle and assess the situation. If there appear to be any injuries, damage to property in excess of $2,000 or criminal behavior, call the police immediately according to FSCO. Drivers should take photos of the scene, write down any details of the collision and make sure all vehicles are moved away from traffic. Next, contact an insurance agent and follow the instructions on what to do next. 

Mutual insurance protects drivers from incurring undue expenses, but the best protection will always be prevention. Not only is it against the law, but it's dangerous to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers should always focus on the road and not distractions around them. When using community insurance, the best way to benefit all policyholders is to practice safe driving, which will keep the number and value of claims as low as possible.