How car insurance differs between provinces
Parked car with accident benefits coverage

No two Canadian provinces are alike. So, it’s not surprising that each province handles auto insurance differently. Maybe you’re moving or travelling out of province for an extended period. Or maybe you’re just curious how much other Canadians pay for car insurance. From coverages to cost to how it’s managed, we’ve outlined the basics about car insurance across (most of) Canada.

Is car insurance mandatory in Canada? 

Yes! You must have car insurance to legally own and drive a car in Canada. Whether it’s public or private insurance, you have to have at least the minimum required coverage to drive.

Private vs. public car insurance – what does it mean? 

Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec all have private insurance. (Quebec’s is a little different – but we’ll explain why a little later.) Private insurance companies compete against each other for your business. As a customer, you can shop around and choose which one best suits your needs. This means comparing coverages and customer service – and who’s got the best price, of course.

B.C., Manitoba, and Saskatchewan have public insurance. The provincial governments run it, along with other services. Coverage options are more limited. But, you can still add some extra coverages if you wish.

Here’s how car insurance differs by province:

British Columbia

Cost: The average cost of car insurance in B.C. is determined by ICBC.

Mandatory coverage in British Columbia:

• Third party liability
• Enhanced accident benefits
• Underinsured automobile protection
• Inverse liability protection
• Basic vehicle damage coverage

How does car insurance work in British Columbia? 

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is B.C.’s public insurance provider, and you’ll buy your policy through an Autoplan broker. ICBC doesn’t just deal with auto insurance. You’ll also get your driver’s license and registration through them (among many other services). The ICBC Basic Autoplan is the lowest level of car insurance coverage required to register and drive a car in B.C. But don’t worry, it’s not one-plan-fits-all! You can still choose the level of protection you want, with optional coverages like collision, comprehensive, rental car coverage, and more.

Click here to check out ICBC’s website for everything you need to know.


Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Saskatchewan is determined by SGI.

Mandatory coverage in Saskatchewan

• Physical damage coverage for your vehicle
• Third party liability for damage to other vehicles, property or injury to others
• Personal injury coverage if injury results from a vehicle collision

How does car insurance work in Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) covers all vehicles in the province. Every driver must have basic plate coverage. When you register a vehicle in this province, you just pay a flat fee for basic insurance. It includes the mandatory coverage you need to legally drive. You can always buy extra damage and/or liability coverage through a broker, if you want to.

The default plan also includes no-fault personal injury coverage in its basic package. But, you can actually opt-out of no-fault and choose a tort (or “at-fault”) policy instead. Switching would mean that not as many expenses are covered by the policy, but it allows you to sue (or take to court) the other person involved.

With both no-fault and tort, there are exceptions to what’s covered. Take a look at SGI’s website to find out more.


Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Manitoba is determined by MPI.

Mandatory coverage in Manitoba:

• All-perils
• Third-party liability
• Personal Injury Protection Plan (Manitoba’s version of accident benefits)

How does car insurance work in Manitoba? 

Manitoba’s mandatory coverage is called Autopac, provided through Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI). MPI also takes care of licensing, registration, and more. You can get your insurance through an Autopac broker. Coverage for damage to your vehicle is included in your Autopac plan under All-perils. But, you still have the option to add on things like rental car insurance. You can even add extra coverage for high-value cars (since Autopac will only pay up to $70,000 for the value of a vehicle).

Deductibles work a little differently in Manitoba. The deductible is the amount you pay as part of an Autopac claim. There are different levels to choose between, where you have a specific deductible amount assigned to each type of claim you might have to make. The highest level ($750 per type of claim) means you’d pay less for your annual insurance – but, more out of pocket in the event of a claim.

Did you know? Manitoba uses a driver safety rating system for car insurance discounts. If you have merits (meaning you’re a good driver), you’ll get a discount on your driver’s license and your insurance costs. If you’ve reached the max of 16 merits, you can get up to a 37% discount! But of course, if you have demerits you won’t qualify for a discount.

Want to know more about MPI? Visit their website right here.


Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Alberta is $191/month.

Mandatory coverage in Alberta:

• Third party liability
• Accident benefits
• DCPD (Direct Compensation for Property Damage)

How does car insurance work in Alberta? 

As with all private insurers, you have to have at least the minimum coverage. Then, you can add on your optional coverages as you need them. These include extras like collision, comprehensive, and coverage for a rental car if you get into an accident and need a backup set of wheels.

Most auto policies in the province include an endorsement called SEF 13D. This limits coverage for damage to glass caused by rocks, chips, and other debris. Now, Alberta is known for hailstorms. And, it has more than your average number of rocky, gravelly roads. This means windshield damage is common – which could also mean a lot of glass claims for you, along with higher insurance payments.

So what’s the point of SEF 13D? Well, if you have it you could pay much, much less for your comprehensive coverage. Some insurers even reduce it up to 50%. That’s because you’d be responsible for paying for damage to your glass – like windshield chips from flying rocks. Keep in mind you might need a higher level of glass coverage, so SEF 13D isn’t for everyone. Speak with your insurer to find out what will work best for you.

Did you know? On January 1, 2022, Alberta became the latest province to adopt the DCPD model. With DCPD, a driver is compensated directly through their own insurer for no-fault car accidents. This means you don’t have to go after the at-fault driver’s insurer to get them to pay you for damages to your vehicle. Instead, your own insurer takes care of it. DCPD saves you time, money – and the huge hassle of delays and court dates.

Learn more about auto insurance in Alberta.


Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Ontario is $196/month.

Mandatory coverage in Ontario:

• Third party liability
• Accident benefits
• Uninsured automobile protection

How does car insurance work in Ontario? 

Auto policies from private insurers in Ontario are heavily regulated by the FSRA. The provincial government outlines a standard auto policy that companies need to align with. It always includes liability, accident benefits, and uninsured automobile protection. You can get collision, comprehensive and other extras. In terms of saving, a nice bonus is the Ontario winter tire discount!

Heads up! As of January 1, 2024, Ontario auto insurance policyholders can opt out of Direct Compensation Property Damage (DCPD). It was previously mandatory.

Ontario was also one of the first provinces to approve usage-based insurance (UBI). It’s also known as pay-as-you-drive insurance. UBI can help cut insurance costs if you’re driving less. Plus, it rewards you for being a good driver. But, a recent update to the Ontario UBI guidelines means you can also be penalized for poor driving. And, you could pay extra if you’re driving a lot more than usual. If switching to UBI interests you and you live in Ontario or another province that offers it, talk to your insurer. They’ll help you decide if it’s right for you.

Visit the FSRA’s website to learn more about Ontario car insurance.


Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Québec is $78/month.

Mandatory coverage in Quebec 

• Accident benefits (provided by the SAAQ)
• Civil liability

How does car insurance work in Québec? 

Quebec’s car insurance is unique. It’s a hybrid plan between public and private insurance. In Québec, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) public insurance plan covers all Quebecers for personal injury if they are in an accident.

The SAAQ doesn’t cover other kinds of damage – like damage to your car, or to someone else’s. For that, you’d have to get civil liability and other coverages from a private insurer. Civil liability covers damage to other people’s property (like their car). It could also cover some injuries you cause that aren’t covered by the public plan. And, it covers damage to your car if you’re not at fault. You can also buy collision through private insurance to cover damage to your vehicle if you are at fault (since the SAAQ won’t cover that), along with other optional coverages.

Quebec’s plans can be pretty tricky to understand. Lucky for you, we’ve laid out everything you need to know about the SAAQ!

Get more info on Québec’s public insurance plan by visiting the SAAQ’s website.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Cost: The average cost of car insurance in Newfoundland and Labrador can vary. Get quotes from different companies to see how much you might pay.

Mandatory coverage in N.L.:

• Third party liability
• Uninsured motorist

How does car insurance work in Newfoundland and Labrador? 

This is the only province with private insurance where medical, funeral, disability and death benefits coverages are optional for drivers. But of course, they’re highly recommended. Without them, you’d be left to pay out of pocket for injuries. It also covers death expenses if the worst should happen – a burden nobody wants to bear after a tragedy. If you want more coverage for your car, you can add things like collision and comprehensive, along with other optional extras.

New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia


• Average cost of car insurance in New Brunswick: $144/month
• Average cost of car insurance in P.E.I.: $116/month
• Average cost of car insurance in Nova Scotia: $134/month

Mandatory coverages in all three provinces:

• Third party liability
• Accident benefits
• Uninsured automobile protection

How does car insurance work in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island?

Each of these three provinces is beautifully unique – but, their private car insurance plans are pretty similar. This is why we’re grouping them together. All three provinces offer private insurance and have more or less the same mandatory coverages. And you’ll expect to pay about the same amount too. In each province, you can enhance your policy to cover damage to your car. Plus, you can also always add extras like rental car coverage, and more.

Did you know? Life as a new driver isn’t cheap. New Brunswick has a unique discount where new drivers applying for their license can receive the “First Chance Discount” on their policy for up to 6 driving years. The discount gives new drivers a break when starting to pay for insurance – provided they keep a clean record for those 6 years.

We hope this overview helps! It’s a good idea to learn about your own province’s mandatory and optional coverages. You’ll want to make sure you’re fully protected. If you’re moving to a new province, don’t get stuck scrambling for new insurance after you move. Do your research before the move so you can switch without a hitch. If you’re travelling out of province or out of the country, you should also find out how your coverage could be affected. Contact your insurer about your car and how you use it. They’ll help you find a plan that works best for you.

Have more questions about your insurance? Get in touch! We’re always happy to help. Find out if you can get insured with us based on the province you live in. And, get a quote online with Sonnet in just minutes.

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