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1. System Type:

  1. Private Insurance: Unlike a few provinces in Canada, such as British Columbia or Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia’s car insurance industry is predominantly private. This means that drivers purchase car insurance from private insurance companies rather than a government-run agency.
  2. Mandatory Insurance: Every vehicle owner in Nova Scotia is required by law to carry at least the minimum amount of insurance coverage. This includes third-party liability coverage, with a minimum limit of $500,000.
  3. No-fault benefits: Regardless of who is at fault in an accident, certain benefits (such as medical expenses and income replacement) are available to the injured parties. This is a component of the broader insurance policy and is commonly referred to as “Section B” benefits or “Accident Benefits.”
  4. At-fault system: While there are no-fault benefits available, Nova Scotia still determines fault in accidents, and it can affect your premiums. The province uses rules to determine fault that are standardized and are called the “Automobile Insurance Fault Determination Regulations.” If you’re deemed at fault in an accident, your premiums may go up.
  5. Rate Board: The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board oversees auto insurance rates in the province. This board reviews and approves rate changes that insurers propose.
  6. Facility Association: For drivers who can’t obtain car insurance in the regular market due to a high-risk profile, the Facility Association, which all auto insurers in the province are members of, will provide coverage. It acts as the insurer of last resort.
  7. Graduated Licensing: Nova Scotia has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that new drivers must go through. This program is intended to ensure that new drivers gain experience and maturity behind the wheel in lower-risk environments before they get full driving privileges. This system can affect insurance premiums as novice drivers are generally more expensive to insure.

2. Coverage for Bodily Injury:

In Nova Scotia, bodily injury coverage primarily falls under two main sections of a typical car insurance policy:

  1. Third-Party Liability Coverage:
    • This coverage is mandatory for all drivers in Nova Scotia.
    • The minimum required limit for third-party liability coverage in Nova Scotia is $500,000, but many individuals opt for higher limits (e.g., $1 million or $2 million) to better protect themselves from potential lawsuits.
    • It covers the policyholder against legal liability arising from injuries or death caused to someone else anywhere in Canada or the U.S. It also covers damage caused to someone else’s property.
    • If you are found legally at fault for an accident that causes injury or death to another person, this part of your policy will cover the associated costs, up to the limit of your coverage.
  2. Accident Benefits (Section B) Coverage:
    • This is a form of no-fault coverage, meaning you can access benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
    • Accident Benefits coverage provides compensation for specific types of injuries, medical treatments, and other expenses.
    • Coverage typically includes:
      • Medical expenses: Reimbursement for necessary medical treatment not covered by a health plan.
      • Loss of income: Compensation if an injured person cannot work due to their injuries, typically covering a percentage of the person’s gross weekly income up to a specified limit.
      • Funeral expenses: If the accident results in death, this part of the coverage helps with funeral costs.
      • Death benefits: Payments made to the spouse or dependents of someone who dies as a result of an auto accident.

3. Coverage for Property Damage:

are you covered?

In Nova Scotia, coverage for property damage in an auto insurance policy mainly falls under the Third-Party Liability section. Here’s a breakdown:

Third-Party Liability Coverage:

  1. Property Damage:
    • This part of the Third-Party Liability coverage handles the costs if you’re found legally at fault for an accident that damages someone else’s property. This could be another vehicle, a building, a fence, or any other type of property.
    • As mentioned earlier, the minimum required limit for third-party liability coverage in Nova Scotia is $500,000. However, this limit is a combined single limit for both bodily injury and property damage claims. In high-cost claims, especially where both injury and property damage occur, this minimum might be quickly exhausted, which is why many individuals opt for higher limits.
    • If the damage exceeds your policy’s limit, you would be personally responsible for the remainder of the costs.

Optional Coverages Related to Property Damage:

  1. Collision or Upset Coverage:
    • This optional coverage protects your vehicle if it’s damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object or if it overturns.
    • This is often required by lenders if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle.
    • Deductibles apply, which means you will pay the deductible amount first, and the insurance will cover the rest up to the policy’s limit. The deductible amount can often be chosen by the policyholder and typically ranges from $250 to $1000 or even more.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage:
    • This optional coverage protects your vehicle from non-collision related incidents like theft, vandalism, falling objects, fire, storms, and certain natural disasters.
    • Like the collision coverage, deductibles apply.
  3. All Perils:
    • This is a combination of both Collision and Comprehensive coverages. It covers all the risks of both, usually with a single deductible.
  4. Specified Perils:
    • This optional coverage protects against specific risks named in the policy, such as fire or theft. It’s more limited than comprehensive coverage.

4. No-Fault System:

Nova Scotia does not have a pure no-fault car insurance system like some other jurisdictions. However, it does incorporate certain no-fault principles, primarily in the form of Accident Benefits (often referred to as Section B benefits).

Here’s a breakdown of the system:

  1. Accident Benefits (Section B):
    • This is a form of no-fault coverage, which means that regardless of who is at fault for the accident, you can access certain benefits.
    • Coverage under Section B usually includes medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, funeral expenses, death benefits, and partial compensation for lost income due to injuries from the accident. The specific amounts and durations for these benefits are defined in the policy and by regulations.
    • It’s worth noting that while this coverage offers benefits regardless of fault, it doesn’t mean that fault won’t be determined or that at-fault drivers won’t face increased premiums.
  2. Determination of Fault:
    • Nova Scotia still operates under an at-fault system when it comes to determining responsibility for a motor vehicle accident. This means that after an accident, fault will be assessed based on the circumstances of the collision.
    • The province uses the “Automobile Insurance Fault Determination Regulations” to help standardize how fault is determined. Depending on the assessment, a driver can be found anywhere from 0% to 100% at fault.
    • If you’re deemed at fault for an accident, your insurance premiums might increase.
  3. Third-Party Liability:
    • Even though Section B provides no-fault benefits, drivers are still required to carry third-party liability insurance. This coverage protects you if you’re found legally responsible for injuries or property damage to another person as a result of the accident.
  4. Claims and Premiums:
    • Even if you claim no-fault benefits under Section B, it doesn’t prevent your premiums from increasing if you’re determined to be at fault for the accident.
    • The no-fault benefits mainly ensure that injured parties have immediate access to certain benefits without waiting for fault to be determined.

5. Premiums:

  1. Halifax: The province’s capital and largest city might see average premiums between $850 to $1,250 annually.
  2. Dartmouth: Being part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, it might see rates close to Halifax, perhaps $825 to $1,200.
  3. Sydney: As a significant urban center in Cape Breton, premiums might range from $800 to $1,150 annually.
  4. Truro: This central Nova Scotian town could have rates between $750 and $1,100.
  5. New Glasgow: Rates here might average from $740 to $1,090.
  6. Glace Bay: Being part of Cape Breton, the rates could be around $730 to $1,080.
  7. Bedford: Located close to Halifax, rates might be similar, in the range of $820 to $1,190.
  8. Bridgewater: In the South Shore, average premiums might be between $720 and $1,070.
  9. Amherst: Located near the New Brunswick border, it might see rates of $710 to $1,060.
  10. Kentville: In the Annapolis Valley, rates could be around $700 to $1,050.

For the remaining cities and towns, the average rates can vary but may generally fall between $650 to $1,050, with smaller and more rural areas likely to be at the lower end of this range.

  1. Yarmouth
  2. Antigonish
  3. Wolfville
  4. Port Hawkesbury
  5. Pictou
  6. Mahone Bay
  7. Lunenburg
  8. Liverpool
  9. Windsor
  10. Shelburne
  11. Sackville
  12. North Sydney
  13. New Waterford
  14. Middleton
  15. Digby
  16. Berwick
  17. Baddeck
  18. Annapolis Royal
  19. Springhill
  20. Oxford

6. Deductibles:

In Nova Scotia, as with other provinces in Canada, a deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in to cover the remainder of a claim. Deductibles apply to several types of auto insurance coverages. Here are the primary coverages where deductibles are relevant:

  1. Collision or Upset Coverage:
    • This covers damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another vehicle, object, or if the car overturns.
    • The deductible for collision coverage typically ranges from $250 to $1,000 or more, depending on the policy. Some policyholders opt for a higher deductible to reduce their premium, while others may choose a lower deductible to minimize out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage:
    • Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle from events other than collisions, such as theft, vandalism, fire, falling objects, and certain natural disasters.
    • Like collision coverage, the deductible for comprehensive insurance usually ranges from $250 to $1,000 or more. The choice of deductible can affect the premium amount.
  3. All Perils:
    • This is a combination of both Collision and Comprehensive coverages, and it typically has a single deductible that applies to claims, regardless of their nature.
  4. Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD):
    • DCPD is available in some provinces in Canada, allowing you to claim from your own insurer for damages to your vehicle where another driver is at fault. There might be a deductible involved depending on the specifics of the situation and the insurance policy’s terms. Note: The availability and terms of DCPD might vary and may not be relevant in all situations in Nova Scotia.
  5. Glass Coverage:
    • Some policies have a specific deductible for glass repairs or replacements, especially for windshields. Depending on the policy and insurer, there may be options for a reduced or $0 deductible for glass-only claims.

7. Mandatory Coverages:

In Nova Scotia, certain coverages are mandatory for all drivers to ensure a minimum level of protection for all road users. Here’s a breakdown of the mandatory auto insurance coverages in Nova Scotia:

  1. Third-Party Liability Coverage:
    • This coverage protects you if you’re legally liable for injuring someone or damaging their property with your vehicle. It covers the costs of lawsuit settlements or awards, up to the limit of your coverage.
    • In Nova Scotia, the minimum required limit for third-party liability coverage is $500,000. However, many individuals opt for higher limits (e.g., $1 million or $2 million) for more extensive protection.
  2. Accident Benefits (Section B):
    • This is a form of no-fault coverage, which means you can access benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
    • It provides compensation for specific types of injuries, medical treatments, and other expenses regardless of who caused the accident.
    • Typical benefits under this section include medical and rehabilitation expenses, funeral expenses, death benefits, and partial compensation for lost income due to injuries.
  3. Uninsured and Unidentified Automobile Coverage:
    • This coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver or if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run (i.e., an unidentified driver).
    • It ensures that you receive compensation for your injuries or property damage even if the other party doesn’t have valid insurance.
  4. Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD):
    • DCPD allows you to claim damages from your own insurer for property damage to your vehicle when another driver is at fault, under specific conditions. The coverage is limited to situations where you and the other vehicle are both insured by companies licensed in Nova Scotia, and the incident occurred in the province.
    • With DCPD, you deal directly with your insurer regardless of who’s at fault, which can often streamline the claims process.

While these coverages are mandatory, many drivers in Nova Scotia also opt for additional optional coverages, such as Collision, Comprehensive, All Perils, rental vehicle coverage, and others to further protect their financial interests and their vehicles.

8. Optional Coverages:

While there are mandatory coverages that every driver in Nova Scotia must have, there are also several optional coverages that drivers can choose to add to their policies for more comprehensive protection. Here’s a rundown of some common optional auto insurance coverages available in Nova Scotia:

  1. Collision or Upset Coverage:
    • Covers damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another vehicle, object, or from the car overturning.
    • It’s especially recommended for newer or high-value vehicles.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage:
    • Provides protection against non-collision related risks, such as theft, vandalism, fire, falling objects, and certain natural disasters.
    • This coverage is broad and covers many of the “out of the blue” events that might damage your vehicle.
  3. All Perils:
    • A combination of both Collision and Comprehensive coverages. It covers all the risks of both, usually with a single deductible.
    • This is a more extensive form of coverage that essentially combines the protections of both of the above.
  4. Specified Perils:
    • Covers only certain perils that are specifically named in the policy. These might include things like fire or theft, but it’s more limited than comprehensive coverage.
    • This is often chosen when a driver wants to cover specific scenarios but not pay for the broader comprehensive coverage.
  5. Rental Vehicle Coverage (Loss of Use):
    • Covers the cost of a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired due to a covered claim.
    • Can be very useful if you don’t have another mode of transportation.
  6. Waiver of Depreciation:
    • For new vehicles, this coverage ensures that if your car is written off in an accident, you’ll receive the full purchase price of the car, not the depreciated value.
    • Typically, there’s a time limit on this coverage, such as 24 or 36 months from when the car is new.
  7. Family Protection Endorsement (Underinsured Motorist Protection):
    • Provides additional coverage to you and eligible family members in the event of injury or death caused by an underinsured, uninsured, or unidentified driver.
    • It essentially increases the limits of your existing third-party liability coverage in these specific scenarios.
  8. Accident Forgiveness:
    • Some insurers offer this endorsement, which ensures that your first at-fault accident will not result in an increased premium on renewal. Conditions may apply based on your driving history and the insurer’s guidelines.
  9. Glass Deductible Buy-Down or $0 Glass Deductible:
    • Reduces or eliminates the deductible for glass repairs, especially windshields.
  10. Roadside Assistance:
  • Some insurers offer or can add-on a roadside assistance program, which can provide services like fuel delivery, flat tire changes, and towing.

9. Claims:

insurance claim

Filing a car insurance claim in Nova Scotia is a systematic process, similar to other provinces in Canada. If you’re involved in an incident that may require a claim, it’s essential to be aware of the following steps and considerations:

  1. Immediate Steps at the Scene:
    • Ensure safety: Check for injuries and move vehicles out of traffic if it’s safe to do so.
    • Call the police: If there are injuries, significant damages, or if it appears someone was driving under the influence.
    • Collect Information: Gather details of other involved drivers (name, contact details, driver’s license, insurance details), witnesses, and take photos of the scene, vehicle damages, and any relevant road signs or signals.
    • Note the details of the incident: Date, time, location, and a brief description of what happened.
  2. Reporting:
    • Notify your insurance company or broker as soon as possible. They’ll provide guidance on the next steps and what information they’ll need.
    • In some instances, especially where injuries are involved, you may also need to report the accident to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Nova Scotia.
  3. Claims Adjuster:
    • After reporting the claim, an insurance claims adjuster will be assigned to your case. This person will assess the details, determine fault (using the “Automobile Insurance Fault Determination Regulations”), and estimate the cost of repairs or damages.
    • They will guide you on where to repair your vehicle and what benefits or settlement amounts you’re entitled to, based on your policy’s coverages.
  4. Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD):
    • In Nova Scotia, if the other driver is at fault and both you and the other driver are insured with companies licensed in the province, you’ll claim damages from your own insurer under the DCPD system. This process often streamlines claims, as you’re dealing directly with your own insurer.
  5. Deductibles:
    • Depending on the coverage used for the claim, you might need to pay a deductible. This is the amount you agreed to pay out-of-pocket for a claim when you set up your policy. The insurance covers the amount above the deductible.
  6. Settlement:
    • Once all details are reviewed, and repairs are made (or the vehicle is deemed a total loss), the claim will be settled. If there’s a disagreement about the settlement, most insurance policies in Nova Scotia have a clause that allows for dispute resolution.
  7. Impact on Premiums:
    • If you’re found at fault or partially at fault for an accident, it might impact your future insurance premiums. If you have accident forgiveness (an optional coverage), your first at-fault accident may not affect your rates.
  8. Rights and Responsibilities:
    • It’s essential to be aware that you have the right to choose where to repair your vehicle, though your insurer might suggest preferred shops. You also have the right to a fair assessment and settlement, and you can seek additional opinions or dispute resolutions if you disagree with your insurer’s decisions.

10. Driver’s Licensing:

In Nova Scotia, like other Canadian provinces, there’s a graduated driver licensing system in place. This system is designed to ensure new drivers gain experience and maturity under conditions that present lower risk before they get full driving privileges. Here’s a brief overview of the driver’s licensing process in Nova Scotia:

  1. Class 7 – Learner’s License:
    • Eligibility starts at 16 years old (or 15 years, 10 months if enrolled in driver training).
    • A vision test and knowledge test based on the Driver’s Handbook are required.
    • While driving with a Learner’s license, the driver must always be accompanied by a fully licensed (Class 5) driver.
    • This stage lasts a minimum of 12 months, but it’s reduced to 9 months if the driver completes a driver training program.
    • There are several restrictions for Class 7 drivers, including zero alcohol tolerance and not driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
  2. Class 5N – Newly Licensed Driver (Novice):
    • After successfully passing a road test, drivers move to this stage.
    • This stage lasts for a minimum of 2 years.
    • Newly licensed drivers can drive unaccompanied but have restrictions like zero alcohol tolerance and can only have as many passengers as there are seat belts.
    • They cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless they’re accompanied by a fully licensed driver or they fit into certain exceptions (e.g., driving for work).
  3. Class 5 – Restricted Individual License:
    • After 2 years with a 5N license (without any suspensions), the driver can move to this stage.
    • There’s no additional test to move from 5N to the restricted stage of the Class 5 license.
    • The restrictions are reduced but still include things like zero alcohol tolerance.
  4. Class 5 – Full (Unrestricted) License:
    • After 2 years with a restricted individual license and reaching the age of 19, the driver is eligible for the full Class 5 license.
    • At this stage, all novice and learner restrictions are lifted.
  5. Other License Classes:
    • Nova Scotia also has other license classes for commercial vehicles, motorcycles, and more. These include Class 1 (tractor-trailers), Class 2 (buses), Class 3 (trucks), Class 4 (taxi, ambulance), Class 6 (motorcycles), and Class 8 (farm tractors).
  6. Driver Training:
    • Though not mandatory, many new drivers opt to take an approved Driver Training Program. This not only provides them with valuable skills but also can reduce the time they spend in the graduated licensing stages. It might also offer benefits like insurance discounts.
  7. License Renewal and Demerit Points:
    • Licenses in Nova Scotia need periodic renewal.
    • Nova Scotia uses a demerit point system. Accumulating too many points due to traffic violations can lead to license suspension.

Nova Scotia Car Insurance Calculator

insurance calculated

Here are some tips for using a Nova Scotia car insurance calculator:

  1. Have Your Information Ready: Before starting, gather details like your vehicle’s make, model, and year, your driving history, and any other relevant details. This ensures accuracy and speeds up the process.
  2. Be Honest: Always input accurate information. Misrepresenting details might give you a misleading rate which can differ from your actual quote.
  3. Explore Coverage Options: Play around with different coverage limits and types. For instance, see how much you might save by increasing your deductible or removing certain optional coverages.
  4. Understand the Coverage: Ensure you know what each coverage type means, such as collision, comprehensive, and third-party liability. This will help you make informed decisions about what you truly need.
  5. Leverage Discounts: Many calculators will ask about potential discounts (e.g., multi-vehicle, winter tires, or student discounts). Be aware of the discounts you might qualify for and ensure they are accounted for in the calculation.
  6. Multiple Scenarios: Try running multiple scenarios. For example, get quotes for different vehicles if you’re considering purchasing a new car to understand the potential insurance costs.
  7. Consider the Location: Insurance premiums can vary based on where you live within Nova Scotia. If you’re thinking of moving, try getting quotes for both your current and potential new address.
  8. Record or Save Your Quotes: If the tool provides an option to email or save your quote, take advantage of that. It gives you a reference for comparison when shopping around.
  9. Follow Up with an Agent: After getting an estimate from the calculator, it’s a good idea to contact the insurance company directly or speak with a broker. They can provide a more precise quote and might be aware of additional discounts or nuances the calculator didn’t consider.
  10. Compare Multiple Providers: Use calculators from different providers. Rates can vary significantly between insurance companies. Comparing multiple quotes ensures you get the best rate for the coverage you need.
  11. Privacy Concerns: Some calculators might ask for personal contact information and may use it to follow up with you or for marketing purposes. If you’re not comfortable sharing specific details, look for calculators that don’t require them or ensure there’s a privacy policy in place.
  12. Remember It’s an Estimate: The rates provided by online calculators are estimates. Your actual premium might be different based on a more in-depth review of your details by the insurer.

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.

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