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Private Vs. Public Coverage
One of the differences between auto insurance in the United States and in Canada is that some part of the coverage is provided through government-owned providers. In some provinces, all or some part of the required insurance that drivers must carry by law is made available via the government. In Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba, the government organization provides the basic required coverage. In Quebec, on the other hand, both private and public insurance is required. Claims for personal injury are handled through the government. Claims for property damage are handled through a separate private insurance policy.
The No-Fault System
Another difference between the two countries and their approach to auto insurance is how accidents are handled. In the United States, the idea of who is at fault in an accident is important because it determines whose insurance will foot the bill for the damage. That is not the case in Canada. All of the Canadian provinces have a no-fault system to some extent, which means you may not have the right to sue the other driver involved in the accident. For example, in Quebec you are not able to take the other driver to court for damages. Instead, your losses are covered by the government and your mandatory third-party auto insurance
coverage. In Ontario, on the other hand, you do have the option of taking your case through the tort (court) system.
Courts & Auto Accidents
Even in provinces where the tort option is available, you may see limitations in the amount of damages you can collect. In Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, for example, the maximum amount for which you can use for pain and suffering is $2,500. That capped amount is separate from what you may receive in insurance benefits. The capped amount is also different from what you may receive in insurance benefits. Pain and suffering amounts are also separate from claims you might make for property damage, unpaid medical expenses or lost pay for missed work.
Filing a Claim
Regardless of the province, you are required to notify your insurance company as long as you have reported the accident to the police or are going to file an accident claim. Be sure you know if your policy has a specific time limit in which you must make the notification. In addition to the notification, you will be required to submit written proof of loss to the insurance company within 90 days. An adjuster will be sent to investigate your damage, and a determination will be made about how much your losses will be worth.