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Auto Insurance Needs for Driving in Canada

Here's what you need to know...
  • American requirements for car insurance are recognized in Canada
  • Canada allows U.S. drivers to drive on their American insurance as a tourist for six months
  • If you are driving a rental, make sure you know the requirements for the insurance policy
If your coming holiday vacation plans have you heading north of the border into Canada, you are not alone. In fact, according to estimates by the Canadian government, more than 11 million American drivers cross the border annually for day trips.

From an insurance standpoint, both American and Canadian citizens enjoy the benefit of not having to obtain special travel insurance for short trips in their neighboring countries.

Entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool gets you started on the road to affordable car insurance rates in your state.

Is it true that my U.S. car insurance is valid in Canada?

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Both the U.S. and Canada have reciprocal agreements to recognize one another’s car insurance. Therefore, the coverage you carry here in the States applies with the same limits and liabilities as you drive through Canada.

There may be some specific exceptions that might alter this, but these exceptions should be noted by your car insurance carrier accordingly.

Some of the better car insurance policies also provide for travel insurance which pays for medical emergencies, theft of personal items, replacement of luggage, etc.

You should check with your car insurance carrier to see if this type of coverage is part of your current policy. If not, you should be able to purchase it from them.

Another alternative is to purchase a separate travel insurance policy from a company that specializes in that type of coverage.

Are there any time limits for driving in Canada?

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Driving in Canada with your U.S.-based insurance is possible only as long as you remain a tourist. There are certain time limits imposed by the Canadian government to define who is and is not a tourist.

According to official government documents, American travelers are granted six months to travel through Canada when cleared for entry by a Canadian border crossing official.

You must leave the country before the six months expires or apply for permission to extend your stay within 30 days of the expiration date.

Staying beyond your allotted time would mean you’re then driving illegally in Canada.

Just as car insurance is not applicable in the U.S. when you’re driving illegally, it also would not apply in Canada under the same circumstances.

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Does my car insurance cover leased vehicles driven to Canada?

In most cases, your primary car insurance covers the minimum liability requirements attached to driving leased vehicles.

However, your policy may or may not cover things like collision damage and judgments that might be awarded in civil litigation.

For these things, it is important to check with your car insurance company before leasing a vehicle.

If your policy doesn’t cover these things, you can usually purchase a temporary rider from your carrier at a reasonable cost.

And, if all else fails, the car leasing company would be more than happy to provide you with the additional insurance coverage you need.

This should be a last resort as it tends to be rather expensive when compared to standard auto insurance.

How do I get home if my car is totaled in Canada?

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In the case of a severe accident that totals your car while in Canada, you should be able to arrange for a rental car to get home to be covered by your insurance.

Note that this is only true if you carry collision and comprehensive insurance.

Drivers who simply purchase basic liability may not be covered in a scenario such as this.

Again, you’ll have to check with your own car insurance carrier to see whether or not you are covered.

Before you cross the border into Canada, you should search for competitive car insurance rates online by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool.

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