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Can you drive Your parents' car without insurance in Ontario?

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So, you’re attending an Ontario college or university and looking to use your parents’ car. Can you drive their vehicle without Ontario car insurance? Yes, provided:

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

It also depends on your license classification within Ontario’s graduated licensing system.

Example: say you’re a University of Toronto student with a G2 license (which prohibits you from driving on 400 series highways alone), and you’ve decided to use your parents’ car to visit a friend who goes to school at Queen's University in Kingston, requiring you to drive on Highway 401. If you get into an accident on the way, your parents’ insurance provider may not cover the related costs as you would be in violation of your license restrictions. This also goes for any other accident in which the driver involved was breaking the law.

There is no such thing as “temporary insurance” - standard car insurance policies allow you to  drive someone else’s car every once in a while, but if you’re using it regularly, you may need to ask your parents to call their insurance provider and list you as an occasional driver. It will increase their rates, but the risks of not doing so are expensive.

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What happens if you cause an accident?

If you cause an accident while driving your parents’ car, it will go on your driving record, but it will also affect your parents. Since you’re listed as a driver on their insurance, their premiums will increase until you leave their policy. Once that happens, your parents will have to contact their insurance provider and request that the accident be removed from their policy and put onto yours.

You can also add Accident Forgiveness coverage to your parents’ policy — a one time get out of jail free card for your first at-fault accident. The incident will still go on your driving record, but it won’t affect your insurance premiums. However, if you leave for another insurer before the accident comes off your record (3-6 years), your new insurance company will see your record and increase your premiums accordingly. And, if you get into another accident, you can’t use the waiver again until the other has cleared. 

What about drinking and driving?

For novice drivers (those under 21), the Ontario government requires a zero percent blood-alcohol level to operate a vehicle. If you cause an accident resulting in property damage or serious injury with even a small amount of alcohol in your system, the damage to your parents’ insurance record could be enormous.

But what about something less serious, like getting a ticket?

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What happens if you get a ticket?

Unlike what happens in the event of an accident, if you’re pulled over by the police and issued a ticket in person, you will be personally responsible for paying the fine and your license will receive demerit points.

If, however, you receive an automated ticket from a photo radar or red-light camera, it’s a different story. Because these cameras track the car’s license plate (which is registered to your parents), a ticket will be sent to their address. Since it will say when and where the ticket was issued, your parents will quickly figure out who was driving their car when it happened. It’s best to be upfront about it so you can continue to enjoy the privilege of driving their car.

The same situation applies if you illegally park your parents’ car. In the event that it gets towed to an impound lot, the onus falls on them to retrieve the car and pay any associated costs.

The bottom line

If you’re a responsible driver and only plan on using your parents’ car every once in a while, being listed on their insurance isn’t technically necessary. However, once you find yourself regularly driving their vehicle, it’s best to get them to list you as an occasional driver on their policy. Even then, at-fault accidents and tickets can hurt their insurance history and cause their premiums to skyrocket, so make sure you’re following the rules of the road when behind the wheel. Drive safe, and if you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them below.