Public vs. Private Insurance

  • Auto Insurance is mandatory across Canada.
  • You pay a monthly fee called a premium, based on the particulars of your plan and your history as a driver.
  • In the event of a collision or similar event, insurance companies will cover the associated costs, ranging from just some of the costs to all of them, depending on the nature of the claim.
  • When you want your insurance provider to cover the cost of something, you file a claim in order to start the process.
  • Insurance providers will often have repair shops, towing services, and rental companies that they prefer to do business with.


Public insurance at a Glance:

  • Available in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Saskatchewan
  • Provided by the government.
  • Generally more affordable but less comprehensive.
  • In Quebec, public insurance only covers personal injuries rather than the collision itself.


Private insurance at a Glance:

  • Available across Canada
  • Provided by private institutions (businesses)
  • Some companies may offer frequent dividends to those participating in a policy.


Depending on where you live in Canada, your options for public and private insurance differ. It is mandatory to have automobile insurance in Canada, and although private insurance is available across Canada, public auto insurance is available only in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec. In Quebec, public auto insurance only covers personal injuries, rather than the collision itself. In short, public insurance is provided by the government, and private insurance is provided by a business.

By law, insurance is required for any vehicle that is intended to be driven. The debate as to the merits of these two models is alive and well.

Proponents of public auto insurance argue that, because it is operated on a not-for-profit basis, prices would inherently be lower. However, proponents of private auto insurance make the case that an open and competitive market would naturally drive prices down and service up. Generally, economies of scale allow for public insurance rates to be lower, but don’t allow the plans to be as comprehensive. Private insurance providers can potentially offer more extensive and specialized care, but could be more expensive.

Made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

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