In Alberta, driving without insurance is both illegal and very risky. In addition to severe penalties for doing so, a driver without insurance loses a host of benefits and risks exposing themselves to financial hardship.
The Alberta Traffic Safety Act provides that all drivers of motor vehicles must carry insurance. Anyone who drives without insurance is subject to a huge fine – a minimum fine of $2,500 for a first offence and not less than 45 days in prison, if they fail to pay. Police can also impound the vehicle, which is very costly to retrieve.
It only gets worse for a driver who does it second time – the penalty increases to a minimum fine of $5,000 and no less than 60 days in prison, if they fail to pay.
Loss of Access to Medical Benefits
All automobile insurance in Alberta gives medical, disability and death benefits. These are called Section “B” benefits and insured persons can claim these benefits, even if the accident is their own fault.
Some of these benefits include:
- If you are hurt, there is insurance for up to $50,000 in medical treatments.
- If you are injured and cannot work, there is disability insurance up to $600 a week.
- If you or a loved one dies, there are benefits for death, grief counseling and funeral expenses.
If someone drives without insurance they lose access to these benefits. Even if the collision is not their fault, they will likely have to pay for any treatments out of their own pocket until they are able to settle with the other driver’s insurance (which could be a very long time, if at all).
Passengers in the vehicle are also entitled to these benefits. Not only does the uninsured driver miss out on these important benefits, any passengers in the vehicle miss out on them as well.
You Risk All
With insurance, you are covered up to policy limits for personal injury and property damage that others might claim against you. Without insurance, if you get into an accident that is your fault, you are on the hook for any property or personal injury loss. That includes claims by your own passengers who might have a right to sue you if the collision is your own fault.
Even a minor accident could result in thousands of dollars of liability. Essentially, driving without insurance places your property, such as your home, your income, your savings and your other assets at risk. That is because if a collision is your fault, the injured parties (including your own passengers) could get judgments against you and eventually take your savings, garnish your wages or even have your home sold off to pay for their claim.
Another aspect that automobile insurance addresses is the legal costs in defending a lawsuit. Drivers with insurance are entitled to rely on their insurance company to defend them and pay for legal costs. Even if an accident is not your fault, someone might think it is and end up suing you. If you are sued and have no insurance you will have to hire a lawyer to defend you yourself.
Legal costs involved in hiring a lawyer often easily exceed the cost of paying for the insurance in the first place. While you could defend yourself, without a legal background, doing so could be very difficult and risky.