Compare Quotes
HomeCar Insurance ResourcesCan insurance companies access medical records Canada?

In Canada, car insurance companies do not have automatic access to an individual’s medical records. However, if a person is making a claim related to an injury from a car accident, the insurance company might request access to relevant medical information to verify the claim. In such cases, they would generally need the claimant’s explicit consent to obtain this information.

If someone is seeking compensation for injuries or making a personal injury claim, they might be asked to sign a consent form allowing the insurer to access medical records directly relevant to the injuries claimed. But without this consent, the insurer would typically not have the right to access an individual’s medical records.

Still, it’s important to read any documentation or forms carefully before providing consent and, if unsure, to seek advice from a legal professional or advocate.

Who can access my medical records in Canada?

In Canada, your medical records are considered private and are protected by various provincial and territorial laws, as well as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) at the federal level for private-sector organizations. However, there are specific individuals and entities that can access your medical records under certain circumstances:

  1. Yourself: As a patient, you generally have the right to access your own medical records, although there might be a few exceptions (e.g., if providing the information might result in harm).
  2. Healthcare Providers: Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals directly involved in your care can access your records as necessary for providing medical services.
  3. Explicit Consent: If you provide written consent, certain individuals or entities can access your medical records. This could be for insurance claims, legal cases, or other purposes.
  4. Legal Requirements: In some situations, medical records may be accessed due to court orders or specific laws that require their disclosure.
  5. Healthcare Administrators: People who are responsible for processing billing, managing databases, or carrying out administrative tasks might access your records, but usually, they do so without viewing the clinical details.
  6. Public Health Reasons: Under certain circumstances, relevant health authorities may access medical records for disease tracking, epidemics, or other public health concerns.
  7. Medical Research: Researchers might access medical records for studies, but typically, the information is de-identified to maintain patient privacy.
  8. Transfer of Care: If you switch healthcare providers, your new provider might get access to your past records to ensure continuity of care.

Any unauthorized access or misuse of medical records can lead to serious consequences for the individual or entity responsible. If you’re ever concerned about the privacy of your medical records, you should discuss the matter with your healthcare provider, a privacy officer, or legal counsel.

How far back can an insurance company request medical records in Ontario?

In Ontario, when you’re making a claim following an auto accident or a personal injury situation, the insurance company may request access to your medical records to verify the extent and cause of your injuries and to understand any pre-existing conditions that could influence your current health status.

The length of time for which they can request records typically depends on the nature and extent of your injuries, and what you’re claiming for. If a pre-existing condition could have potentially influenced your current injuries, an insurance company might want to look further back into your medical history. However, this usually pertains to records that are directly relevant to the injuries or conditions you’re claiming for.

Generally, there isn’t a specific “cut-off” date that applies to all situations. Instead, the period for which records can be requested depends on the relevance and necessity of those records to the claim being made.

If you ever feel that an insurance company is making an unreasonable request, or if you’re unsure about what you should provide, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer or legal expert familiar with insurance claims in Ontario. They can provide guidance on what you’re required to submit and ensure that your rights are protected.

Should I release my medical records to car insurance company?

health insurance checkup

Deciding whether or not to release your medical records to a car insurance company is an important decision. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Pros of Releasing Medical Records:

  1. Claim Verification: To process a claim related to an injury from an auto accident, the insurance company may need to verify the injury. Providing relevant medical records can help expedite this process.
  2. Demonstrating the Extent of Injury: If you’re pursuing compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, medical records can provide evidence to support your claim.

Cons and Concerns:

  1. Privacy: Medical records contain sensitive information. By releasing them, you might feel like you’re compromising your privacy.
  2. Broad Requests: Sometimes, an insurance company might request a broad range of medical records, some of which might not be directly related to the accident. This can lead to concerns about why they’re asking for such extensive records.
  3. Pre-existing Conditions: If you have a pre-existing condition, the insurance company might attempt to argue that your current injuries or medical issues are due to that pre-existing condition rather than the accident. This can affect the amount they’re willing to compensate.


  1. Seek Legal Advice: Before releasing any medical records to an insurance company, especially if you have significant injuries or a complex medical history, it might be beneficial to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can advise you on what’s appropriate to release and how to handle the insurance company’s requests.
  2. Limit the Scope: If you do decide to release medical records, make sure the release is limited to records directly related to the injuries from the accident. You can specify dates and types of records in your release.
  3. Explicit Consent: Remember that insurance companies generally need your explicit consent to access your medical records. Ensure you read and understand any forms or documentation they provide before signing.
  4. Direct Communication: Consider allowing your medical provider to communicate directly with the insurance company regarding specific questions. This can sometimes prevent the need to release entire records.

Remember, every situation is unique. The most important thing is to make an informed decision that protects both your rights and your personal information.

How long are medical records kept in Canada?

  1. Alberta: Adult records are kept for 10 years after the last entry in the record, while records for minors are kept for 10 years after the patient turns 18.
  2. British Columbia: Physicians are advised to keep adult records for 16 years from the date of the last entry or 6 years after the patient’s death. For minors, it’s 16 years after the age of majority (which is 19 in BC), making it until the patient turns 35.
  3. Manitoba: Records must be kept for 10 years after the last contact or, in the case of minors, 10 years after they turn 18.
  4. New Brunswick: Adult records should be retained for 10 years from the date of the last entry. For minors, the record should be retained for 10 years after the patient reaches the age of majority, which is 19 in New Brunswick.
  5. Newfoundland and Labrador: Adult records are kept for 10 years after the last entry, and for minors, 10 years after they turn 18.
  6. Nova Scotia: Physicians are advised to retain records for at least 10 years from the date of the last entry for adults. For children and minors, they should be kept for 10 years after the date the patient reaches or would have reached the age of majority (19 in Nova Scotia).
  7. Ontario: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recommends retaining records for 10 years from the date of the last entry for adults, and for minors, 10 years from when they turn 18.
  8. Prince Edward Island: PEI’s Medical Society suggests retaining medical records for 10 years after the last entry or, in the case of minors, 10 years after they turn 18.
  9. Quebec: For adults, records are kept for at least 5 years after the last entry. For minors, the record should be retained until they turn 18, and then for another 5 years (so at least until the minor turns 23).
  10. Saskatchewan: Records should be retained for at least 6 years after the last entry for adults. For children and minors, they should be kept for at least 6 years after the date the patient turns 18.
  11. Northwest Territories and Nunavut: Both territories suggest retaining records for 10 years after the last contact or, in the case of minors, 10 years after they turn 18.
  12. Yukon: The Medical Profession Act doesn’t specify a time period but keeping records for 10 years from the last entry or, in the case of minors, until they turn 28, is a reasonable approach that aligns with practices in other jurisdictions.

These guidelines are set by the medical regulatory bodies in each province or territory. It’s also essential to note that there may be specific situations or other types of records that have different retention requirements.

How to get my medical records online free Canada


In Canada, accessing your medical records, whether online or offline, is your right. However, the availability of medical records online varies by province, territory, and even by specific healthcare institutions. Here’s a general guide on how you might be able to access your medical records online in Canada:

  1. Patient Portals: Some hospitals and health networks in Canada offer patient portals, which are secure online platforms where patients can access their medical information. For example:
    • MyChart in parts of Ontario is a free service that lets patients view their medical records online.
    • Connect Care is a patient portal system being rolled out in Alberta.
  2. Provincial Health Records Systems: Some provinces have set up electronic health record (EHR) systems or databases that store patient information. For example:
    • eHealth Ontario is Ontario’s program to establish EHRs for all its residents.
    • Health Gateway in British Columbia provides residents with access to their health information.
  3. Steps to Access:
    • Registration: Typically, you’ll need to register for an online account. This might involve verifying your identity, setting up a username/password, and agreeing to terms of use.
    • Login: Once registered, you can log in to view your records. The type of information available can vary, but it might include lab results, medical imaging, prescription histories, and more.
  4. Request Directly from Healthcare Provider: If your healthcare provider or local health network offers online access but you’re unaware of it, contact them directly. They can guide you on how to access your records online.
  5. Fees: While accessing your medical records is your right, some institutions might charge a fee for processing or providing copies. However, viewing them online through official portals is typically free.
  6. Privacy and Security: Ensure that any platform you’re using is secured and officially affiliated with a legitimate healthcare provider or the government to prevent unauthorized access to your personal medical information.
  7. Physical Records: If online access isn’t available, you can still request your medical records in physical or electronic format from your healthcare provider. There might be a fee associated with producing copies.

While the movement towards digital health records and online accessibility is growing in Canada, not all records may be available online in every jurisdiction or institution. If you’re unsure about the online availability of your records, it’s a good idea to contact your primary care provider or the health ministry of your province or territory for guidance.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

Leave A Comment

Continue Reading