What happens if you get hit by someone without insurance?
Although you may be an excellent driver and at low risk of causing a crash, the same can’t be said for every driver on the road in Alberta. The most jarring claims are those caused by others, when you are at absolutely zero fault. If this happens, you can at least take comfort in knowing that their insurance will pick up the bill for your injuries and property damage, right?
Although the vast majority of Alberta drivers carry decent insurance with Third Party Liability limits of $1,000,000+, there are several notable exceptions that can leave you with a substantial financial burden through no fault of your own. The first is that the driver may not have sufficient limits to cover your serious injury and property damage, or they may have injured a number of claimants so their policy will be quickly exhausted. Next, you could be hit by an unknown driver that flees the scene, leaving you injured and not knowing who caused the loss. Unfortunately, without other witnesses, it is rare for the police to track down the at-fault party in a hit-and-run.
Worst of all, you could be hit by someone without insurance at all. This, unfortunately, is the most common and most undesirable outcome of them all. Although the penalties in Alberta are steep (a minimum of a $2,875 fine even on first offence), approximately 10-15% of drivers choose to drive without legally mandated liability insurance coverage. In some provinces, such as Ontario, and in many US states, that number is even higher (up to approx. 1 in 4 drivers in Florida). Further to that, these drivers are often those who have a hard time getting insurance due to their poor driving record (DUI, license suspension, etc.) or who are unable to afford it. This means that if you get hit by one of these drivers, although you are legally allowed to sue them for all damages caused, good luck collecting a judgment.
There several ways to protect yourself. With Collision coverage, your physical loss to your vehicle is covered, regardless of who is at fault. On the injury side, it is more complicated, but basic coverage is also provided under the Accident Benefits section B, which mandatory in Alberta. Unfortunately, this is capped in a number of ways, including a maximum total payable of just $50,000 under this section. If you are seriously injured or off work for a material amount of time, Accident Benefits is not likely to properly cover you for your loss.
Fortunately, there is also coverage available under the SEF 44 Family Protection Endorsement, as well as from the Alberta Uninsured Motorist Fund. In the event that, after obtaining a legal judgment, you are unable to recover from an at-fault uninsured, underinsured or unidentified driver, you can go to the Fund for recovery (up to $200,000) and to your SEF 44 coverage for any balance remaining after that. The limit on your SEF 44 matches the limit on YOUR Third Party Liability coverage, so it would typically be $1,000,000, $2,000,000 or higher. Considering that this endorsement is often less than $4 a month, it provides a substantial amount of protection from the highest-risk drivers on the road, those without proper coverage.
If you’d like more information, or to confirm that you’re properly protected, talk to one of our insurance brokers today.