Like the United States, Canada requires all drivers to have adequate auto insurance. Your U.S. car insurance may serve you well in Canada, depending on your circumstances. Below are three things to do before crossing into Canada with your U.S. car insurance.
1. Ensure Your Coverage Meets or Exceeds Canadian Requirements
Many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, have minimum insurance coverage limits for drivers. In the U.S., each state determines its minimum coverage limit. Thus, your U.S. insurance coverage might be lower than the Canadian limit.
Driving with coverage that doesn't meet the minimum limits is like driving without insurance coverage, which attracts different penalties. In addition, you might be on the hook for damages you might cause if you have inadequate coverage or your insurance doesn't extend to Canada.
For the above reasons, you should confirm that your U.S. insurance matches or exceeds the Canadian limit. If not, buy additional coverage to meet the Canadian threshold. Many U.S. insurance companies are more than happy to sell you additional coverage.
2. Carry Acceptable Proof of Insurance
Secondly, you must have a way to prove to the Canadian authorities that you have adequate car insurance. The best way to do this is to carry a Non-Resident Inter-Province Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card, which many Americans call the Yellow Card. Get your card from your U.S. insurance company.
Other acceptable proofs of insurance include your U.S. auto insurance policy and card. You can never have too much documentation, so you can carry these two plus a Yellow Card.
3. Don't Exceed the Prescribed Duration
Lastly, note that your U.S. auto insurance only applies temporarily in Canada. Specifically, your U.S. coverage is valid in Canada if your visit north of the border doesn't exceed 180 days. Beyond that, you need to purchase auto insurance from Canadian auto insurance companies.
For example, you can use your U.S. car insurance while touring Canada for a fortnight or a month. However, you need to buy car insurance in Canada if you are over there for a yearlong work assignment. For such extended periods, the assumption is that your driving risks are unique to Canada, and you need coverage that applies to those risks.
Never drive anywhere without relevant and adequate insurance coverage. Talk to your car insurance company or agent for help if you are not sure your insurance will be adequate for Canadian roads.