Automobile Insurance: Demystified | Priddle Law Group

It is automobile insurance renewal time. We receive the letter with a long list of coverage options on it and the associated costs.  How do we know what is worth it and what is not?

In the pile of bills to pay, car insurance feels like an expense we can do without.  We are careful drivers and wouldn’t cause an accident. It just doesn’t feel necessary to pay all that money for something that only “might” happen.  But in an accident or emergency, even if it is someone else’s fault, I assure you that you will give anything to have had the coverage.  It is not just peace of mind, it can make the difference between carrying on as normally as you can in the given circumstances or halting your life in virtually every aspect of it to deal with the given circumstances of an unexpected accident.

Basic Coverage

Every car operating on the roadways in BC is legally required to have “Basic Autoplan” coverage. This covers the first $200,000 of damage you cause to someone else.  For you and members of your household, it also covers some minimum amounts towards your treatment costs and wage loss if you are injured in an accident. Finally, it allows you to claim for your injuries if the person who hurts you in a motor vehicle accident does not have enough insurance.

Basic coverage does not pay to fix your vehicle damage, does not pay for towing and storage charges, does not pay for a rental car while you are getting your vehicle fixed, and does not cover damage from vandalism, weather, or hitting an animal or road hazard.  For any of those to be paid for, you need to buy extra coverage called collision and comprehensive.

What Happens if Someone Else Causes the Accident?

You didn’t cause the accident - shouldn’t the other driver’s insurance pay for your damages and injuries?  The driver at fault for the accident may have insurance to cover your damage, but that may not be sorted out and paid to you until months to years down the road. Most people cannot afford to wait for vehicle repairs while the insurance companies sort out the paperwork. If your vehicle is not drivable after an accident, or you cannot afford to pay upfront for vehicle repairs or buy a replacement vehicle, you will be without a vehicle for months.  That means transit, taxi, or organizing rides.  If you are injured, that becomes an even more daunting task and an added expense.  Also, the tow company and tow yard will want to be paid, so that is even more money out of your pocket long before you can be reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s insurance.  Your extra coverage would pay for those things and put you back on the road.   Your insurance company will collect back from the at-fault drivers’ insurance much later on instead of you waiting for that to happen.

What Happens if You Cause the Accident?

What if you did cause the accident? Consider a momentary lapse of attention on the highway, and you cause a collision with a family of 4.  Basic coverage is not enough to pay for the damage and injuries you may cause if more than one person is injured in the accident.  They will all likely need an ambulance, medical attention, rehabilitation aids, and will suffer pain, wage loss, and out of pocket expenses for medication and treatment – those are all your responsibility if you caused the accident.  Add in the cost to repair their vehicle and you have likely well exceeded the basic coverage limit of $200,000 and the rest will come out of your pocket.

Every accident has different circumstances and different insurances available.  Be sure to have your insurance broker explain each type of insurance. Consider the benefit it gives you in that unexpected situation you “might” encounter.

If you have been in an accident and have questions related to your insurance coverage and would like advice or for more information please contact Priddle Law Group at (250) 434-8911 or email reception@priddlelaw.ca to book a free consultation.