To tell you the truth, I never really thought about car insurance , especially abroad… But all the same, when my mother found out I was going on a road trip alone to Vermont to celebrate graduating, I had no choice to learn a bit.
If like me you don’t know anything about car insurance and you’re wondering why it’s worth the hassle abroad, here are some of my findings you might find interesting. (Spoiler alert: You need it, and it’s not a “one size fits all” type of thing!)
Can I Drive Outside Of My Country?
However important this question is, it is one that is often overlooked… So, the first thing to do is to make sure your licence is valid abroad!
Go online and find out more about the countries you want to visit via their government webpages and if necessary request an international permit so you are legal to drive when you arrive. Certain countries have agreements with Canada that will allow you to drive, but it’s far from standard procedure.
If you plan on renting a car, ask them beforehand what type of licence is necessary to do so. It’s very important to make sure you’re covered in the case of an accident abroad, but to avoid complete catastrophe make sure you are even allowed to pick up your rental in the first place!
Do You Need Car Insurance?
To this question, the answer is yes!
The SAAQ protects you if you have an accident, whether or not you’re responsible.
However, it doesn’t protect you against the damages that you may have caused others, and that can become extremely expensive. In these cases it’s even possible you could end up in court due to lack of adequate coverage.
Having civil liability insurance of at least $50,000 is required by law to protect against material damages to others.
Although collision coverage isn’t required, it is extremely useful, especially outside of Québec. Collision insurance will prevent you from having to possibly stand trial in court to try to collect damages from the responsible party. The costs of damages will be reimbursed by your insurer based on the terms of your contract.
Ask your insurer if you have collision insurance! In general, the majority will suggest it.
You don’t need to imagine the worst here, but medical/hospital coverage could save you lots of money in fees if you are hospitalized. Although it’s not obligatory, it’s something good to think about.
What’s more, medical/hospital coverage is offered in the group insurance plans of many companies. Check to see if your plan offers it!
Where Am I Covered With My Car Insurance?
The simplest thing to do is to talk with your insurer, because this is completely dependent on the country you are travelling to and the type of plan you have.
In general, if you are covered in Canada, you will also be covered in the States. But regardless if you’re crossing the Atlantic or the US border, the best thing to do is let your insurance company know. That way they can adjust your coverage and inform you of any differences that exist abroad so you can understand exactly what is and what isn’t covered.
This is especially important when we drive abroad, because of different signalling, languages, cultures, and, of course, laws. Remember, a little prevention goes a long way. The last thing you want is to break down on a dirt road in Mexico unprepared!
Is My Rental Car Covered?
Certain car insurance and travel insurance plans will extend coverage for rentals. Just make sure to pay close attention to what is covered and what isn’t before you reserve your rental: for instance, collisions may be covered but the theft of the vehicle might not be.
Certain conditions don’t always apply either, so read your contract and insurance policy well!
Ask the rental agency or agent you are working with what is covered and what isn’t so you can fill in any necessary holes in coverage. But make sure to do this beforehand and not when picking up your vehicle. Otherwise you’ll lose time at the beach and cause yourself unnecessary stress!
A Little Prevention Goes A Long Way
Hopefully I’ve helped you prepare better for your next trip abroad. If nothing else, remember the key is anticipation. Call your insurance agent well ahead of time! They can respond to your concerns and will be the most in-tune with your specific situation to give you the best responses to questions you may have.
Save your insurer’s number in your phone or better yet, write it in your travel journal so you can reach them anytime. You never know what could happen out there and it’ll be reassuring to have the number close at hand just in case.
And, if you don’t already have insurance, obviously price is important, but make sure to choose an insurer with whom you are comfortable and can respond to your questions. That’s why I chose Intact Insurance ! They helped me plan my road trip to the States in a way that made me feel like all my bases were covered and that I was protected.
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