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Nova Scotia Auto Insurance Requirements

Nova Scotia has many scenic drives along the roadways and offers stunning coastal views. It is mandatory to have car insurance in Nova Scotia as per law. The auto insurance price is very less in the province and has the 4th lowest rate in Canada. The car insurance prices were reduced after auto reforms in 2003. The car insurance industry has more than 60 companies for consumers to choose from.

The province has a no-fault-based insurance system. So, the drivers can file claims with their insurance company. It does not depend on who was at fault for the accident. In 2013, the province enacted the Direct Compensation for Property Damage System for managing property damage claims. If an accident causes property damage or injury loss of more than $2000 then a police report will need to be filed. Around the same time, there was also regulation started for determining fault for auto insurance. This helped insurance companies to assess fault and handle the claims process.

Nova Scotia Auto Insurance Regulations

The auto insurance industry in Nova Scotia is regulated by the office of the Superintendent of Insurance. This office is responsible for supervising the insurance business on a provincial level and enforcing the Insurance Act. Apart from this office, the insurance industry is also regulated by the NSIRB or Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board. They are set up to protect the public and ensure that insurance practices are fair.

The insurance companies set the rates. The insurance companies have to apply to NSIRB in order to make any changes to the rates or classification of risks. The insurers could apply to the NSIRB for changes to rates or risk category once in 2 years for private vehicles. The insurance companies were mandated that they may not use marital status or age as criteria for calculating risk cost from 2004.

Nova Scotia Car Insurance Facts

The insurance companies in Nova Scotia use a variety of factors to calculate car insurance premiums. The following list has the factors used to set premiums.

  • Location
  • Vehicle value
  • Purpose of vehicle
  • Frequency of usage
  • Vehicle mileage
  • Gender
  • Occasional drivers listed on the policy
  • Where you live
  • Deductible amount and coverage level
  • Value of your vehicle
  • Abstract and claims record of all drivers
  • Make, model, and theft score of the vehicle

In Nova Scotia, there is a cap of $2500 for claims made for losses due to pain and suffering for a minor injury. So, in the event of an accident, you may sue for up to $2500 for pain and suffering but can still claim for other benefits to their limits. You could claim for the cost of medical bills, equipment, treatment, rehabilitation, etc. for recovery from the injury. You may also claim for loss of income for time off from work due to injury.

Facility Association

The insurance industry cannot deny coverage to the high-risk auto consumers in Nova Scotia as auto insurance is compulsory as per law. So, those who could not get insurance in the regular market could approach the Facility Association. This is a non-profit organization founded by a pool of insurance companies. They offer car insurance coverage for high-risk clients but the premiums may be very high. The NSIRB governs all the car insurance rates set up on policies offered through the Facility Association.

Licensing Program In Nova Scotia

Newly Licenced

Nova Scotia has a graduated driver licensing system with 3 levels. The following are the 3 phases that need to be completed before getting a full driver’s license.

  • The Learner’s Licence phase.
  • The Newly Licenced phase.
  • The Restricted Individual phase.

After completing the above 3 phases, a driver gets a Nova Scotia driver’s license with no restrictions that were applicable during the learning period.

Learner’s Licence Phase

With effect from April 2016, this phase has been increased from 6 months to 12 months duration. If the driver enrolls and completed an education program then this period reduces to 9 months. The restrictions during this phase are as follows:

  • The learner may drive with only a fully licensed experience driver and no passengers.
  • The learner driver has to maintain 0 BAC level during driving.

Newly Licensed Driver Phase

The operating conditions during this phase are as follows:

  • The novice driver must maintain 0 BAC during driving
  • Only 1 passenger may be allowed to be seated in the front. The number of passengers in the rear seat cannot be more than the number of working seat belts.
  • There will be no upgrade allowed beyond the Class 5 license.
  • Driving will be restricted between 12 midnight and 5 in the morning. The exception to this rule would be during driving to work at night or accompanied by a supervisor driver. No other passengers will be allowed in the car.

In addition, this phase can be completed after a 6-hour Defensive Driving course or an approved driver education program with 10 hours driving time and 25 hours theory.

Restricted Individual Stage

This phase lasts for 24 months and after successful completion will graduate to a full license with no restrictions. During this phase, the driver is enforced by a special driving condition 47 that includes the following restrictions.

  • 0 BAC level required of the restricted driver.
  • The restricted driver in this phase cannot supervise or train another driver during the phase.

Minimum Required Auto Insurance Coverage in Nova Scotia

As per law, it is mandatory to have car insurance to operate a vehicle in Nova Scotia. The standard car insurance coverage includes liability, accident benefits, and damages due to uninsured and unidentified motorists. The 3 coverage levels that are required on all auto policies are mentioned below.

Third-Party Liability Coverage: This coverage has to be purchased on all auto policies for up to a limit of at least $500,000. There is an option to increase the limit as per need. The coverage protects the insured against any losses caused to a third party by your car. The damages to property and injury are covered under this coverage in the case of a lawsuit.

Accident Benefits: The coverage is for rehabilitation, medical, funeral expense, and income replacement benefits. This can be claimed for the injured driver and the passengers in the event of a collision.

Uninsured and Unidentified:  This covers for losses caused to you due to an accident with a car that has no insurance or the driver cannot be identified.

Optional Available Auto Insurance Coverage in Nova Scotia

A driver may also purchase some optional coverage on top of the standard coverage to get more protection in case of an accident. Generally, the motorists buy collision and comprehensive coverage. There is a deductible payable to claim under both the coverage. As of 2003, there was a provision to buy enhanced accident benefits cover for the insured and the family if there was no such coverage through other insurance policies.

Collision: This coverage is also known as upset coverage and could compensate for losses due to a collision. It does not matter as to who is at fault for the collision.

Comprehensive: The coverage will pay for claims in case of perils such as fire, theft, vandalism, etc.

Apart from the above, there are also additional endorsements that could be added to the auto insurance policy for more benefits.

Penalty For Driving Without Insurance in Nova Scotia

There are severe penalties to be paid if caught driving without active car insurance in Nova Scotia. This may range from a minimum of $1000 penalty or jail time for 45 days for a first-time offense. A second offense may lead to a higher fine amount of $2000 or jail time for 90 days. The third-time offense would cause a financial loss of $5000 or jail time of 120 days. If you are also convicted for driving without valid auto insurance then you could get classed as high risk. This would increase the insurance premium rates.

Impaired Driving Penalties in Nova Scotia

Driving in Nova Scotia under impaired conditions could invite heavy fines. If you get convicted of impaired driving with a BAC of more than .08 and an accompanying child under the age of 16 years then the following may apply.

  • Will get a criminal record
  • May have driver license suspended for at least 2 years
  • Could be fined for at least $1000
  • The offender may need to complete a program to tackle addictions
  • The driver would be required to enroll in an Ignition Interlock Program

All penalties and jail time or suspensions for impaired driving depend on the nature of the offense. The penalties could be severe if impaired driving causes death or injury. The following details the fines and punishment as per the number of offenses.

1st Offense:

  • The offender may have to pay a fine ranging from $600 – $2000
  • There could be a revocation of driving privileges for 1 year from the conviction date
  • It may be required to complete an assessment for alcohol addiction or drug dependency at a cost of $455
  • A fee for reinstating the driving license would be $124.60
  • All tests are written and on the road including vision, tests may have to be redone.

2nd Offense committed within a 10-year period:

  • There would be a fine payable for a fine of $600 – $2000
  • Imprisonment for at least 14 days
  • All driving rights may be revoked for 3 years from the conviction date
  • It may be needed to complete an assessment for alcohol addiction or drug dependency at a cost of $455
  • A fee of $124.60 will have to be paid for reinstating a driving license
  • Retake all written, vision, and road tests.

3rd offense, within a 10-year time frame:

  • The fine amount remains the same between $600 and $2000
  • Imprisonment for at least 90 days
  • Driving privileges may be revoked for at least a minimum of 10 years from the conviction date.
  • Pay $455 for completing the program for assessing Addiction/Drug Dependency
  • Payment of $124.60 for reinstating a license
  • Retake all tests

4th offense, within a 10-year time frame:

  • This could cause permanent revocation of license and penalties for criminal conviction as per the Criminal Code of Canada

Distracted Driving Penalties in Nova Scotia

The road safety department in Nova Scotia strictly bans distracted driving to reduce collisions and violations. They are also cracking down on those who use their cell phones while driving on the roads. As of 2015, there would be demerit points added to the driver’s license too along with heavy fines. Earlier, a first-time offender paid anywhere from $176.45 and a third-time offender pays a higher fine of $348.95. But since 2015 this has increased. A first-time offender may pay up to $233.95 and a third-time offender may pay up to $578.95 along with 4 demerit points added to the driver’s license with conviction.

Nova Scotia Roads & Driver Safety

The provincial government of Nova Scotia initiated the ‘1-meter rule’ in 2011 with Bill 93 which is unique legislation in Canada. This is the only province in Canada with this traffic legislation. As per this rule, the drivers have to allow at least 1 m clearance while driving past a cyclist on the road. The cyclists are also expected to ride in a single file and not spread out on the road while cycling. They are also expected to ride only on the right side of the road in designated bike lanes. The purpose of this rule is to encourage road sharing by different users in a safe manner including drivers and cyclists. There are also about 12 new signs on the highways to remind cyclists to slow down as this will promote road safety.

Several government agencies have partnered together to improve road safety in Nova Scotia at the provincial level. This responsibility is mainly shared between the department of transportation and infrastructural renewal together with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. They deliver road safety programs effectively for better traffic control. The province also reports road safety events for monitoring purposes. Federal reports are also produced to look at existing road issues in the province. This helps to provide solutions by improving Nova Scotia road structure and development.

Nova Scotia Traffic Safety Plan

The province of Nova Scotia has proposed a 5-year plan for the improvement of road safety. This plan will manage the repairs and maintenance of 23000 km of highways and roads along with 4100 bridges. The province has expensed over $455 million over the past two years for improving major highway structures. Major road projects, pavement, bridge replacements will be taken care of and need to be reviewed over the next 5 years.

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