In Ontario, section 267.6(1) of the Insurance Act is strict. If you are driving an uninsured vehicle that you own or lease, you may not have the right to sue. Even if your injuries are catastrophic. This law applies to the vehicle owner. You may still be able to sue if you are driving an uninsured vehicle but are not the owner. The reason behind this restriction is to ensure that vehicle owners contribute to the automobile insurance pool. The prospect of not being able to sue for injuries gives motorists incentive to purchase insurance before the accident happens.
This restriction extends to statutory accident benefits. The owner of an uninsured vehicle (and passengers) may be prohibited from accessing funding for their statutory rehab and income replacement benefits. If you are injured in a car accident and are unable to work, the standard option accident benefits entitle you to receive up to 70% of your income (maximum $400.00 a week). But if you are uninsured, you may not be entitled to receive this benefit.
There are few exceptions to this Insurance Act restriction. An uninsured owner may be able to sue if they can prove they had an “honest but mistaken belief” that they had insurance. The belief must be reasonable. Allowing your policy to lapse and not paying premiums for several months may not qualify as an honest but mistaken belief. Even paying insurance for one of your vehicles but not another may still prevent you from suing.
It is not worth the risk accident benefits of driving without insurance. Even that five minute trip to the Tim Horton’s drive-thru in an uninsured vehicle could cost you.
If you have been in a car accident and do not have insurance, call us. We can assist you in determining whether you have the right to sue and access statutory accident benefits.