Date Published: 2023/06/30

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Getting ready to drive in Canada: Car insurance for newcomers

Two women sitting in a car, the driver is adjusting their rear view mirror.

Are you a newcomer ready to explore Canada from behind the wheel? We understand that purchasing car insurance can be a complicated process, especially for those who are new to the country.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of car insurance for new Canadians, ensuring you have the coverage you need to hit the road with confidence. 

Understanding Canadian car insurance requirements

In Canada, all drivers are required to have a valid car insurance policy to legally drive a vehicle. It is a serious offence to drive without the necessary insurance coverage, whether you are new to the country or not.  

Each province has its own regulations regarding the minimum coverage requirements and insurance options available. Research the specific requirements in your province to make sure you have the coverage you need before getting behind the wheel.

Steps to getting car insurance as a newcomer to Canada

1. Obtain a Canadian driver's license. To legally drive in Canada, you'll need a Canadian license. The timelines and processes for exchanging your foreign license vary by province. For example, in Ontario, you can drive for up to 60 days with a foreign driver’s license, after which you need to apply for an Ontario license to continue driving.1 To exchange your license, you'll need to meet a series of requirements set by your province of residence. These requirements often include knowledge testing and road testing. Visit your local licensing office or check their website for detailed information on timelines and requirements for getting your Canadian license. 

2. Get your records in order. When applying for car insurance in Canada, you’ll typically need to provide your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle identification number 
  • Make and model of your vehicle
  • Proof of residency, such as a Canadian passport, permanent resident card or work permit

Having proof of your existing out-of-country licensing and insurance may help you secure a better rate. However, not all insurance companies will consider driving history outside North America when calculating your premiums. Be prepared to provide documentation and inquire with insurance providers about their policies regarding international driving experience.

3. Research insurance providers in your area. Look for insurance companies with a good reputation, strong customer service and competitive rates. Reading online reviews and seeking recommendations from friends and family can also help you make an informed decision.

4. Compare multiple quotes. Requesting quotes from different insurance providers allows you to compare coverage options and premiums to find the best fit for your needs. Don't hesitate to ask questions about the coverage details and any discounts available.

Tips for finding more affordable car insurance for newcomers

As a new Canadian, you will likely have to pay a higher insurance premium. While car insurance is a necessary expense, there are steps you can take to reduce your premiums. 

  • Get a full license. Having a full Canadian driver's license, as opposed to a learner's permit or a provisional license, can often lead to lower insurance premiums.
  • Maintain a clean driving record. Avoiding accidents and traffic violations demonstrates responsible driving behaviour and can result in lower insurance premiums over time. Drive safely and follow traffic laws to keep your record clean.
  • Choose a practical vehicle. The type of vehicle you drive can impact your insurance premiums. Insurance rates are often higher for sports cars, luxury vehicles and vehicles with a high theft rate. Opting for a practical and reliable vehicle with good safety features can help lower your premiums.
  • Ask about discounts. Many providers offer discounts that can help you save on your insurance costs. These discounts may include loyalty discounts, bundling your car insurance with other policies or discounts for installing safety devices in your vehicle. Ask your insurance provider about your options.
  • Increase your deductible. Increasing your deductible (the amount you're willing to pay out of pocket in the event of a claim) can help lower your premium. However, it's important to make sure you can comfortably afford the deductible amount should you need to make a claim.
  • Shop around. Getting quotes from multiple insurance providers is key to finding the most competitive rates. Compare quotes and coverage options before making your decision.

As a new Canadian, securing the right car insurance coverage is important for your safety and peace of mind on Canadian roads. We're here to support you throughout the process and help you navigate the complexities of car insurance in Canada. If you’re shopping for car insurance and would like to request a quote, reach out to an Orbit broker at 877-976-7248.

If you’re a current Orbit policyholder and have any questions about your insurance coverage, call 877-976-7248 to review your policy or learn more about your coverage options.

  1. Ontario Ministry of Transportation