Can I drive my parents’ car without insurance in Ontario?

By Daniel Schoester | Published on 04 Jul 2023

father and son with the car

Yes! You can drive your parents’ car without insurance in Ontario. However, there are a few caveats. Namely, your parents must have car insurance registered to the vehicle. Driving without car insurance in Ontario is an offence that can result in license suspension and significant fines.

The other consideration is that you must occasionally drive the car. Otherwise, you must register as a “secondary driver” if you frequently use the vehicle. Finally, ensure you have a valid driver’s license. As long as these conditions are met, it is perfectly legal for you to drive your parents’ car without insurance. However, in some cases, their insurance won’t protect you. Continue reading to learn how to stay protected while driving without car insurance in Ontario.

Requirements to Drive Your Parents’ Car Without Insurance

Insurance companies can avoid payouts if you don’t meet requirements. This is why you want to ensure you’re driving your parents’ car legally. The last thing you’d want is to ruin your parents’ car without having the insurance to repair it. This is why it’s essential to ensure you’re following these requirements while driving their vehicle:

  • You have a valid driver’s license.
  • You have your parents’ permission to drive their car.
  • You are not listed as an excluded driver on their insurance policy.

If you meet these requirements, your parents’ car insurance will cover you in an accident. Furthermore, if you frequently drive the car, ensure your parents list you as a secondary driver, not an occasional driver. Depending on your driving history, this may increase their insurance rate. However, ensuring your coverage is air-tight without any reasons to refuse payouts is necessary.

If you do not meet these requirements, your parents’ car insurance will not cover you in an accident. This means you could be personally liable for any damages you cause. In addition, you could also be charged with driving without insurance, which is a severe offence in Ontario. If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements to drive your parents’ car without insurance, you should contact your parents’ insurance company to verify your coverage.

Occasional vs. Secondary Driver

Your parents’ insurance will cover you as an occasional or secondary driver. The difference is how frequently you drive the car. As the name suggests, an occasional driver only drives the car occasionally. Occasional drivers may be allowed to drive the vehicle without being listed as a secondary driver, although this depends on your driving history and other factors.

Driving the car more frequently requires your parents to list you as a secondary driver. It is important to note that listing yourself as a secondary driver may increase their insurance rate; this depends on your age and driving history.

When Your Parents’ Insurance Won’t Cover You

In some cases, your insurance coverage won’t protect you. This generally happens when you’re doing something illegal. While the terms of each insurance policy vary by company, here are some common reasons why your parents’ insurance won’t cover you.

Unnamed Driver

Your parents must name you as a driver under their insurance policy to receive coverage. Failing to do so means you won’t receive any coverage. Contact your insurance company to become listed as a named driver.

Illegal Driving

Engaging in illegal activities voids most types of auto coverage. This includes racing, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and operating a vehicle for commercial purposes without proper insurance. However, this can also mean driving on a 400 series highway with a G1 license.

Tickets and Fines

Your insurance will not cover the cost of the tickets you receive, such as speeding or distracted driving. A police officer will issue a ticket directly to your name. If this happens, you must provide your driver’s license and car registration (commonly found in the glove box). The ticket will provide information on how to pay and a due date. 

A speed camera or parking fine will be mailed to your parents’ home address. In situations like this, be upfront with your parents about the incident and deal with it together. These fines include a location and timestamp, making it easy for your parents to figure out the driver.

Lack of Coverage

Your parents’ insurance policy only covers what it specifies. This means your insurance won’t cover any damages if they don’t carry a particular type of coverage, such as comprehensive or collision coverage. Ensure your parent’s policy includes all necessary add-ons for the vehicle’s protection. The “Minimum Required Insurance” section below details Ontario’s car insurance types.

Understanding How Car Insurance Works in Ontario

There are three key components to car insurance in Ontario; covered events, coverage limits, and the deductible. Understanding these three elements is crucial to knowing how auto insurance works. This section provides a high-level overview to help you understand how your parents’ insurance protects you.

  • Covered Events: Your parents’ insurance will cover any damages from the events specified in the policy. Any events not included will not be covered in the event of an accident.
  • Coverage Limits: Each covered event has a maximum coverage limit. This is the maximum amount your parents’ insurer will pay for a claim — regardless of how much it costs to repair or replace the damaged vehicle.
  • Deductible: If the car is damaged, you must pay a certain amount to repair or replace it. This generally from $500 to $1,000. Your insurance company will cover the differences between your deductible and the cost of damages up to the coverage limit. 

Additional Considerations About Driving Your Parents’ Car

Minimum Required Insurance

Every car is required to have four types of car insurance in Ontario. This includes third-party liability insurance, accident benefits, direct compensation property damage insurance, and uninsured automobile coverage. Each of these has different minimum coverage limits. Always ensure your vehicle has the required coverage when driving in Ontario.

Minimum RequirementDescription
Third-Party Liability Coverage$200,000Pays for damages to the other party when you cause the accident.
Accident Benefits$65,000Covers the healthcare and recovery expenses of you and your passengers.
Uninsured Automobile Coverage$200,000Protects if you are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver.
Direct Compensation Property Damage$200,000Repairs your vehicle and what’s inside when you’re not at fault.

Additional Types of Insurance Coverage

While discussing car insurance with your parents, it’s helpful to understand the additional types of coverage. While these aren’t mandatory in Ontario, they can save you significant amounts if damages occur. For example, collision coverage protects your parents’ car when you are at fault. Without collision coverage, there will be no financial coverage for your vehicle when the crash is your fault. Since new drivers are more likely to make mistakes, it’s strongly recommended to review the additional types of coverage below;

Collision CoverageProtects damage to your vehicle caused by a collision with another object or vehicle, regardless of who is at fault.
Comprehensive CoverageBroadly protects damage to your vehicle caused by a non-collision event, such as vandalism or theft.
Specified Perils CoverageProtects specific losses or damages to your vehicle, such as fire and hail damage.

Causing an Accident

Suppose you cause an accident while driving your parents’ car in Ontario. In that case, the insurance coverage for the vehicle should kick in to cover damages and injuries, as long as you are a named driver on their insurance policy. However, it is crucial to immediately report the accident to the insurance company. They will guide you through the claims process and provide the necessary support.

It is important to note that causing an accident can have insurance implications, including potential increases in insurance premiums. Your parents’ insurance will also require a deductible to receive coverage. The deductible generally ranges from $500 to $1,000. You will need to pay the deductible upfront to receive coverage. Having the necessary funds available is essential if you cause an accident in your parents’ car. 

Additionally, depending on the severity of the accident and any resulting injuries or damages, you could face legal consequences. It is always best to drive cautiously and responsibly to avoid accidents and their aftermath.

Accident Forgiveness Coverage

You can add Accident Forgiveness Coverage to your policy to protect yourself and your parents from the potential increase in insurance premiums after an accident. This will protect you if you are at fault for an accident by preventing a premium increase due to related claims. Generally, it is a one-time prevention, meaning further accidents can increase your premiums. Discuss this option with your parents when setting up their car insurance.

New Drivers

New drivers may be covered by their parents’ auto insurance policies, provided they are named as drivers on the policy. However, insurance companies may charge higher premiums to reflect the increased risk associated with new drivers. Contacting your parents’ insurance provider to understand the coverage and any costs associated with adding a new driver to the policy is essential.

Moving Out of Home

You can usually remain on your parents’ insurance after you move out of the home. For example, if you’re attending university or studying abroad, your parents may be able to add you as an occasional driver on their insurance policy. This is often cheaper than getting a separate insurance policy to drive their car. However, confirming this with your insurer and understanding its cost is essential. In these situations, you can save insurance fees as an occasional rather than a secondary driver.

Getting Your Own Insurance

It’s time to consider getting your own insurance when you buy a car. This is because insurance is generally registered to the vehicle, meaning your parents’ coverage won’t protect your new car. When comparing car insurance in Canada, analyze the covered events, maximum limits, and insurance companies reputations. Aim to get quotes from at least three providers. You can get car insurance quotes from brokers, online, or from an insurance provider.

Alternative Coverages

Non-Owner Car Insurance

Non-owner car insurance is valuable when you frequently borrow a car that isn’t in your household. For example, if you frequently borrow a car from friends or your extended family. You must be listed as a secondary or occasional driver if the vehicle is in your household. Thus, you’d be considered an owner, and this type of insurance isn’t applicable.

Pay-As-You-Go Insurance

Temporary car insurance is often discussed in Ontario. However, this type of insurance is not available in the province. Instead, you can use pay-as-you-go insurance, designed for drivers with less than 12,000km annually. However, this insurance is generally designed to cover your own car.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the ins and outs of driving a car registered under your parents’ insurance policy is critical. Contact your parents’ insurance company to clarify any questions or concerns. Additionally, it’s best to remember that your parents’ car insurance will generally cover you in Ontario. Just ensure to meet the three requirements listed above.

Always exercise caution and drive responsibly to protect yourself and others. Ultimately, knowing when you need additional protection from insurance companies in Ontario before getting behind the wheel is essential.

Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Hardbacon, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hellosafe. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.