What is family protection coverage on my auto insurance?

If you’re looking at the title of this blog and feeling a little puzzled, rest assured – you’re not the only one! Not many people actually know what family protection coverage is, or how it works when it comes to your car insurance. We’re here to explain just that, and how it applies if you’re in an accident.

Heads up! Family protection coverage can get pretty complicated. We hope this helps if you’re ever in a situation where you need to use this coverage. If you need more details, reach out to your insurance company – they’ll be happy to help.

So, what is family protection coverage? 

This is an optional coverage that protects you if you get into an accident with an underinsured driver and they are at fault. It provides you and eligible family members with extra third-party liability in case you or a family member is injured, or dies.

In Ontario, it’s also called the OPCF44R endorsement. If you live in Alberta and Atlantic Canada, it’s called SEF44. (This coverage isn’t offered in Quebec.)

Did you know? Adding an endorsement changes or adds to your existing coverage. You might also hear it called a rider. In Ontario, another common rider is OPCF27, or damage to non-owned vehicles coverage. This covers you if you cause damage to someone else’s vehicle while you’re driving it.

How does it protect me if I’m in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance? 

Let’s say you’re hurt in a car accident, and it’s the other driver’s fault. If your injuries are serious, it could result in costly medical bills and even lost income – sometimes going into the millions of dollars. Under normal circumstances where the at-fault driver is properly insured, their liability would kick in to cover your medical costs. But what if they don’t have enough liability coverage to cover your expenses?

Here’s where things can get tricky – and mostly for you.

If the driver has $200,000 liability, you’ll only receive up to that amount to cover your medical expenses. This means, you could be left with high bills to pay out of pocket and a whole lot of stress. But if you have family protection and a higher limit of liability, you’ll be covered for the difference between the at-fault driver’s limit and your own.

So in the above case, if your limit is set to $2 million, you’ll be covered up to that amount – not the driver’s $200,000.

How much liability should I have on my own policy? 

With liability, more is always better. You should have at least the bare minimum required by your province. In Ontario, for example, you must have at least a $200,000 limit. A $1 million limit is the norm. And in fact, $2 million is what most insurers want you to have. The safety OPCF44R offers is just one great reason to keep at least a $1 million limit on your policy.

Will adding family protection raise my premium? 

Yes, but usually by only a few dollars. That little bit of extra cash is worth it for the safety and peace of mind you’ll have.

Although it’s optional, family protection is something you should have. You can’t control what other drivers choose to do with their insurance. What you can do is make sure you have the right limits and coverages in place on your own policy.

Keep your home and auto protected with the right insurance for your needs.