Yes, in Canada, you can typically request to pause or suspend your car insurance, but the options and implications will vary based on the province and the insurance company. The two primary ways to temporarily stop your car insurance are:
- Storage Insurance: If you won’t be driving your vehicle for an extended period, you can switch your coverage to “storage insurance” or “comprehensive-only” coverage. This means you’ll only be covered for non-collision related damages like theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. While this reduces your premium, it means you can’t legally drive your car on public roads.
- Policy Suspension: Some insurance companies might allow you to suspend your entire policy temporarily. During the suspension period, you won’t be paying premiums, and your vehicle will not have any insurance coverage.
Here are some points to consider:
- Provincial Regulations: Some provinces have specific rules regarding policy suspensions or changes. For instance, in British Columbia, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) offers options to pause or suspend insurance, but with specific conditions.
- Driving Legally: Suspending your insurance or switching to storage insurance means you can’t drive your car on public roads. If you do, you’ll be driving without insurance, which is illegal and can result in hefty fines and other legal consequences.
- Reinstating Policy: Before you start driving again, you’ll need to reinstate your full coverage. It’s crucial to ensure this is done correctly to avoid driving without proper coverage.
- Protection: While in storage mode, your car isn’t covered for liability or collision. Ensure it’s stored safely to minimize risks.
- Potential Savings: If you won’t be driving for several months, suspending your policy or switching to storage insurance might save you a significant amount. However, short suspensions may not be as financially beneficial once you account for potential fees and the prorated return of premium.
- Continuous Coverage: Some insurance providers value clients with continuous coverage. Frequently suspending and reinstating your policy might impact your perceived insurability and potentially your premium rates.
Brief overview for each province
The option to pause or suspend car insurance varies by province in Canada. Here’s a brief overview for each province:
- British Columbia (BC):
- The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) allows vehicle owners to cancel their insurance if they’re not using their vehicles, but there might be cancellation fees.
- You can also reduce your coverage to storage-only coverage, which means you’re only covered for theft or damages while the vehicle is stored.
- Insurance is managed by private insurers. Many allow policyholders to change their policy to storage coverage, but policy suspension varies by insurer.
- Always check with your insurer before making decisions.
- Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) allows vehicle owners to cancel their plates and insurance, but they also offer package policies with reduced coverage for stored vehicles.
- Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) allows for coverage adjustments if you’re not using your vehicle. This can mean reducing your insurance to storage-only or cancelling it altogether.
- Managed by private insurers. Many Ontarians reduce their coverage to comprehensive-only when storing their vehicles, but full policy suspension depends on the insurer.
- You can cancel the liability portion of your insurance if you’re not using your vehicle. However, if you have a loan on the car, the lender might require continuous comprehensive coverage.
- Newfoundland and Labrador:
- Insurance is provided by private companies. Typically, you can adjust your policy to storage coverage, but full suspension is insurer-specific.
- Prince Edward Island (PEI):
- Private insurance rules, so the option to suspend or switch to storage coverage depends on the insurer.
- Nova Scotia:
- Managed by private insurers. Most allow for a reduction to comprehensive-only coverage for stored vehicles, but suspension policies vary.
- New Brunswick:
- As with many other provinces, private insurance rules. You can typically reduce coverage to storage-only, but suspension policies vary.
- Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut:
- Insurance is provided by private companies. Options to reduce or suspend coverage are typically available but vary by insurer.
Can you put car insurance on hold for a month?
In Canada, the ability to “put car insurance on hold” for a short period, like a month, will depend on your insurance provider’s policies and the provincial regulations governing auto insurance. Here’s a general breakdown:
- Short-term Suspension: Some insurance providers might allow short-term suspension, but not all of them will, especially for such a brief period like a month. If permitted, during the suspension, you won’t have coverage, and it’s illegal to drive the vehicle.
- Storage Coverage: If you’re not using your vehicle for a month, an alternative might be to reduce your insurance to “storage coverage” or “comprehensive-only” coverage. This means you’re only protected against events like theft, fire, or vandalism, but not collisions or liability.
- Fees and Savings: Even if you can put your insurance on hold, there might be administrative fees or changes to your premium. For such a short period, the savings might not be as substantial as expected, especially once you factor in potential fees and the prorated return of the premium.
- Provincial Differences: As mentioned previously, auto insurance is regulated provincially. So, while one province may have more flexible rules regarding short-term policy holds or changes, another might be more stringent.
- Continuous Coverage Concern: Insurers value clients with consistent, uninterrupted insurance coverage. Frequently pausing and reinstating your policy, even for short durations, might be viewed unfavorably and could potentially affect your future premiums or insurability.
Suspending car insurance while traveling abroad
Suspending your car insurance while traveling abroad can be a cost-saving measure if you plan on being away for an extended period and won’t be using your vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about doing this in Canada:
- Storage Coverage: If your vehicle won’t be driven while you’re away, you can generally reduce your coverage to “storage” or “comprehensive-only” insurance. This covers damages that might occur while the vehicle is parked, such as from theft, fire, or vandalism, but it doesn’t cover driving-related risks like collisions.
- Full Suspension: Some insurance providers might allow you to suspend your insurance entirely. If you do this, your car will not have any coverage. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, check with your lender or leasing company, as they might have insurance requirements.
- Legal Implications: While your vehicle has reduced or no coverage, it’s illegal to drive it on public roads in Canada. Ensure any family members or friends are aware of this if they have access to your car.
- Continuous Coverage: Frequently suspending and reinstating your policy can potentially impact your standing with insurance companies. Some insurers value consistent, uninterrupted coverage, and changes might influence future premiums or eligibility for certain discounts.
- Reinstating Coverage: Before driving your vehicle again, ensure you reinstate adequate insurance coverage. If you’ve suspended it entirely, this process might require more time and documentation than simply reverting from storage coverage.
- Duration: While some insurers are open to short-term suspensions, others might have minimum periods (like several months) for suspending policies. The cost-saving benefits are generally more evident for longer trips.
- Provincial Differences: Insurance regulations vary by province in Canada, which can affect the ease and implications of suspending your insurance.
Steps to Take:
- Contact Your Insurance Provider: Before making any changes, reach out to your insurance provider. They can guide you on the best options available, associated fees, and potential implications for your coverage.
- Document Everything: Ensure you keep records of all correspondence and changes made to your policy. This can be helpful if there are any disputes or issues upon your return.
- Vehicle Storage: Consider where your vehicle will be stored while you’re abroad. A secure garage or indoor facility is ideal. Even with storage coverage, it’s crucial to minimize risks.
OPCF 16: Pausing or suspending your coverage
The OPCF (Ontario Policy Change Form) 16, often referred to as the “Suspension of Coverage” endorsement, is specific to the province of Ontario, Canada. It allows policyholders to temporarily suspend certain coverages on their auto insurance policy. Here’s what you should know about OPCF 16:
- What it Covers: The OPCF 16 allows policyholders to suspend most of the coverages on their auto insurance policy. Commonly suspended coverages include collision and comprehensive coverages.
- Legal Implications: While the suspended coverages are on hold, any claims that would fall under those coverages are not covered. However, the policy remains active with any coverages that weren’t suspended. Remember, if you suspend all driving-related coverages, it’s illegal to drive the vehicle on public roads.
- Duration: There is no fixed duration for the suspension. You can suspend the coverage for as long as you need, but you should reinstate the coverage once you intend to use the vehicle again.
- Cost: By suspending certain coverages, you can save on your premiums during the suspension period. However, there might be administrative fees associated with adding the endorsement and later removing it.
- Reinstating Coverage: It’s crucial to remember to reinstate any suspended coverages before you start driving your vehicle again. Failing to do so and getting into an accident could result in significant out-of-pocket costs.
- Continuous Coverage Concern: As mentioned in earlier responses, frequently changing your policy (even with valid reasons) might be viewed unfavorably by some insurers. It’s worth discussing with your insurance broker or agent about potential implications.
- When to Use: The OPCF 16 is ideal for situations where you know you won’t be using your vehicle for an extended period, such as extended vacations, long-term medical reasons, or if you have a seasonal vehicle.
- How to Add: If you’re considering adding the OPCF 16 endorsement to your policy, you should discuss it with your insurance broker or agent. They can guide you through the process, costs, and any potential implications for your specific situation.
In conclusion, the OPCF 16 is a useful tool for Ontario drivers who need flexibility with their auto insurance coverages for various reasons. However, like all insurance decisions, it’s essential to be informed and understand both the benefits and limitations. Always ensure you’re adequately covered for your needs and risks.
OPCF 17: Reinstating insurance
In Ontario, the OPCF (Ontario Policy Change Form) 17 is the “Reinstatement of Coverage” endorsement. If you’ve previously suspended coverages on your auto insurance policy using the OPCF 16 (Suspension of Coverage), the OPCF 17 is used to reinstate those suspended coverages.
Here’s a breakdown of the OPCF 17:
- Purpose: The OPCF 17 endorsement is used to reinstate coverages that were previously suspended. This means you’re returning your insurance policy to its original state or the state before the suspension.
- Timing: It’s critical to apply the OPCF 17 and reinstate your coverages before you start using your vehicle again. Driving without the necessary coverages can lead to severe financial and legal consequences if an incident occurs.
- Cost: When you reinstate your coverages, your premiums will return to what they were before the suspension, adjusted for the time left in your policy term. There might also be administrative fees associated with reinstating coverages, but this varies by insurer.
- Process: Typically, the process to reinstate coverage is straightforward. Contact your insurance broker or agent and inform them that you wish to reinstate your previously suspended coverages. They’ll guide you through any paperwork or steps necessary.
- Continuous Coverage Concern: As always, keep in mind that insurance companies value consistent coverage. While suspending and reinstating coverage for valid reasons (e.g., extended travel) is generally understood, doing so frequently or without clear justification might be viewed unfavorably by some insurers.
- Documentation: It’s a good practice to keep copies of all endorsements, including the OPCF 17, for your records. This can be helpful in case of any disputes or misunderstandings.
Pros and cons of suspending insurance
Suspending car insurance can be advantageous in certain situations, but it also comes with potential downsides. If you’re considering suspending your car insurance in Canada, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons based on your individual circumstances. Here’s a general overview:
Pros of Suspending Car Insurance:
- Cost Savings: The primary advantage is the potential for significant savings on your insurance premiums during the suspension period, especially if you’re not going to be using your car for an extended time.
- Flexibility: Instead of canceling and then taking out a new policy when needed, suspension allows for easier reinstatement of the policy, maintaining continuity.
- Protection from Non-Driving Risks: If you switch to “storage” or “comprehensive-only” coverage instead of full suspension, your vehicle will still be protected against risks like theft, vandalism, or fire.
- Maintain Relationship with Insurer: By suspending rather than canceling, you maintain your relationship with your insurance provider, which might be beneficial in terms of future dealings or negotiations.
Cons of Suspending Car Insurance:
- No Coverage for Driving: If you’ve suspended all driving-related coverages, you can’t legally drive the car. If you do, you’re not only breaking the law but also risking significant financial liability.
- Potential Fees: There might be fees associated with suspending and then reinstating your coverage.
- Continuous Coverage Concern: Some insurance providers value continuous coverage without interruptions. Regularly suspending and reinstating your coverage might affect your future premiums or even your insurability.
- Reinstatement Delays: There could be administrative delays when you decide to reinstate your coverage, which might be inconvenient if you need to use your car unexpectedly.
- Possibility of Forgetting: If you don’t have a set timeline, you might forget to reinstate your coverage when you need it, leading to potential risks.
- Loan or Lease Considerations: If your vehicle is financed or leased, the lender or leasing company might have specific insurance requirements. Suspending your insurance might breach the terms of your agreement.
- Provincial Differences: Regulations and policies might vary by province, making the process more complex or limiting your options.
Will I get my money back if I suspend my car insurance?
If you suspend your car insurance, whether or not you’ll get money back depends on several factors:
- Type of Suspension: If you’re reducing your coverage (e.g., switching to “storage” or “comprehensive-only” insurance), your premiums will decrease, but you’ll still be paying something. If you’re suspending your entire policy, then there won’t be any charges during the suspension period.
- Prepaid Premiums: If you’ve prepaid your premiums (e.g., if you’ve paid for a full year and you suspend your policy halfway through), you might be eligible for a refund for the unused portion. This is often given as a prorated refund.
- Administrative Fees: Some insurance companies might charge fees for policy changes, including suspensions. Depending on the size of the fee and the amount of your potential refund, it could offset the money you get back.
- Billing Cycle: If your suspension aligns with your billing cycle, the process might be more straightforward. For instance, if you suspend your policy before the next month’s premium is due, you might simply not be charged for the next month. If you suspend it after you’ve paid, then a refund or a credit toward future premiums might be in order.
- Reinstatement Fees: While not directly related to the suspension, it’s worth noting that there might be fees associated with reinstating your policy. This could affect the overall savings or cost considerations of suspending your policy.
- Policy Terms: The specific terms of your policy and the practices of your insurance provider play a significant role. Some providers might offer refunds more readily, while others might apply credits to your account for future use.
If you’re considering suspending your car insurance and are curious about refunds, the best approach is to contact your insurance provider directly. They can provide information tailored to your policy, billing situation, and any associated fees or considerations.
Do I need to have insurance if I’m not driving the car?
Whether you need to maintain insurance on a car you’re not driving depends on several factors, including where you live and the circumstances. Here are some general considerations, particularly with a focus on Canada, but many of these points are applicable in other jurisdictions as well:
- Legal Requirements:
- In many provinces and territories in Canada, as long as a vehicle is registered (has a valid license plate), it’s required to have at least the minimum liability insurance, even if it’s not being driven.
- Some jurisdictions may allow you to return the license plates and cancel the registration, which would mean you don’t have to maintain insurance. But without registration, the vehicle can’t be parked on public roads or driven.
- Financial Considerations:
- If your car is financed or leased, the lender or leasing company may have specific insurance requirements you must maintain, regardless of whether you’re driving the vehicle.
- Risk of Damage:
- Even if you’re not driving the vehicle, it can still be damaged while parked (e.g., fire, theft, vandalism, natural disasters). If you wish to protect against these risks, you’d need comprehensive coverage.
- Storage Coverage:
- Some insurers offer a “storage insurance” or “comprehensive-only” policy for vehicles that are not in use. This provides protection against risks like theft or fire but not driving-related risks. It’s generally cheaper than a full-coverage policy.
- Continuous Coverage:
- Going without insurance for extended periods can sometimes lead to higher premiums when you decide to insure again. Some insurance companies value consistent, uninterrupted coverage.
- Temporary Suspension:
- Some jurisdictions or insurance companies allow you to temporarily suspend your insurance or certain coverages, which can be an option if you know you won’t be using the vehicle for a set period.
- Cost vs. Benefit:
- While dropping insurance can save money in the short term, consider the potential costs if something were to happen to the vehicle while it’s uninsured.
- Legality of Driving:
- Without insurance, you can’t legally drive the vehicle. If you or someone else decides to drive the car on a whim or in an emergency without reinstating the insurance, you’d be breaking the law and face significant financial risks.
In summary, while there are scenarios where you might not legally be required to maintain insurance on a vehicle you’re not driving, it’s crucial to weigh the risks and benefits and consider your specific situation.