Car insurance is required for driving in Canada, and Ontario is no exception. How do we prove that we have insurance coverage? We carry proof that we’re insured.
Canadian drivers must carry proof of insurance every time they drive because failure to show it can land you fines and other consequences. Read on to learn more about proof of insurance in Ontario.
What Is Proof of Insurance?
Proof of insurance is a document that contains your insurance details. You get the document when you receive or renew a car insurance policy.
Most drivers carry around the pink slip. It’s a detachable portion of the document that lists the following data:
- Your name and address
- Your car’s make and production year
- Your policy’s effective date
- Your insurer’s name
- Your policy’s number
Most insurers need two to seven business days to confirm your car insurance. So, there might be a little wait to receive the pink slip after finishing your policy transaction.
Fortunately, you can use a temporary insurance binder if you’re still waiting on the proper policy documents. A temporary insurance binder proves that your policy is being finalized if you’re pulled over before receiving a pink slip.
Why You Need Proof of Car Insurance in Ontario
You need proof of insurance because all drivers need to be insured. Being caught driving without proof of insurance in Ontario is an offence and may lead to legal consequences.
You never know when you need to show proof of insurance, so it’s essential to carry it with you at all times when driving. This also means you can’t drive after cancelling your car insurance if you don’t have a new policy in place.
Check our guide to cancelling car insurance if you’re planning to switch insurers.
Do I Need to Print My Proof of Insurance?
You can print your proof of insurance, but it’s no longer required. You can either use the original pink slip or a digital version. But there are times when a printed copy can be useful, like when you’re lending your car to a friend.
Do I Need Proof of Insurance to Buy a Car?
Yes, you must show proof of insurance as part of the purchase. You’ll need it to drive your car out of the dealership.
Do I Need Proof of Insurance to Get a Licence?
No, you don’t need proof of insurance to get a driver’s licence. You don’t need it to renew your licence, either.
How to Get Proof of Car Insurance
You’ll get proof of car insurance when you finalize your policy purchase. All insurance policy owners get it by default, so your insurer should provide it without extra effort.
There are two types of car insurance proof in Ontario, plus one “backup” option:
Paper Pink Slip
Your paper pink slip is a detachable portion of your main proof insurance document. It’s the one you must carry around at all times and be able to show when requested. We suggest keeping the pink slip in your glove box so it’s always accessible when you’re driving.
Digital Pink Slip
Your digital pink slip is a copy of your insurance proof available on your phone. The digital version contains the same information as your physical pink slip, and you can download it to your smartphone’s wallet. That means you don’t have to connect to the Internet to show it.
You can get a digital pink slip by asking your insurance broker or agent. Then, you can show it by going to your phone’s wallet and pulling the file up.
Naturally, you must ensure your smartphone can properly display the pink slip. That means keeping your phone charged and your screen visible in case you get pulled over.
Anybody driving your car needs to have the pink slip with them. If you’re lending your car to someone, you can lend them your policy by emailing or printing a copy of your pink slip. That way, they can produce your insurance details when needed.
There is one drawback to digital pink slips for insurance, though. They’re a recent development, so they’re only valid in select territories. Digital pink slips are only valid in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. You still need your paper pink slip if you drive in the other provinces.
Temporary Insurance Binder
Insurers can take two to seven days to confirm your insurance data on their database. That means you might need to wait before getting your proof of insurance. Fortunately, you can ask for a temporary insurance binder.
This binder proves that you’re waiting for your policy to be finalized. If you get pulled over before you get a proper pink slip, you can use the binder as a replacement.
Replacing Your Lost Proof of Insurance
Your paper pink slip might get lost, or your phone might encounter an error that deletes your digital one. In that case, you may need to replace your proof of insurance.
Replacing a proof of insurance is easy – just contact your insurer, and it’ll send you replacement documents. You can also get another temporary binder if the process takes a while.
The Advantages of Electronic Proof of Insurance in Ontario
Electronic proof of insurance or digital pink slips have been very popular since their introduction. Here are the advantages of electronic proof of insurance:
Electronic pink slips are convenient, first and foremost. You’re probably thinking about a lot of things when you get pulled over. You’re trying to pull over your car properly, wondering what mistake you made, and preparing to talk to the officer.
Some people might get nervous – it’s natural. And that usually means taking a long time rummaging around your glove box or purse for your pink slip.
A digital pink slip makes things much more convenient. You only need to pull the document up on your phone and show it to the officer. It’s easier, faster, and involves much less fumbling.
Some people are concerned that electronic pink slips can be faked and used for insurance fraud. However, paper pink slips can be faked just as easily. The difference is that electronic pink slips have security measures to make insurance fraud harder to do.
Another more personal benefit is that electronic pink slips are harder to lose. Pink slips can easily be wedged somewhere and forgotten. With electronic pink slips, you always have access to it as long as you have your phone. You can even put copies on cloud storage in case you ever lose your phone.
You can lend a paper pink slip just by handing it over. This is how you can drive somebody else’s car while staying insured.
But, sometimes, you forget to ask for it back and end up without your pink slip when needed. Electronic pink slips eliminate that problem because you always have it, as long as you have your phone.
Instead of handing your pink slip off to someone who can lose or forget it, you can just send the digital copy. This way, your pink slip is safe with you at all times.
Your digital pink slip doesn’t eliminate its paper counterpart. It’s perfectly normal to carry both with you. Plus, they can back each other up. If you lose your phone, you can use the paper pink slip and vice versa.
When You Might Need to Show Proof of Insurance
So, when do you need to show your proof of insurance or pink slip? Here are some common scenarios where you’ll need them:
- Buying a car
- Renting a car
- Being pulled over by the authorities
- Registering your new car
- Renewing your licence plate
Insurance Pink Slips Are Legally Required to Drive in Ontario
All drivers in Ontario are legally required to be insured and have proof of their policy. This means you need to have your pink slip while driving and can produce it whenever asked by the police.
What happens when you can’t produce your proof of insurance upon request? You may be subject to these charges:
- Operating a car without insurance
- Failing to surrender proof of insurance
Both charges imply that you cannot show any proof that you have auto insurance. You can cancel the charge by attending court with your valid proof of insurance.
However, you might get a ticket for either offence. Paying the ticket means it’ll go on your driver’s abstract. Having too many driving offences makes insurers more likely to raise your rates when they check your driving record.
Read our guide on how traffic tickets impact car insurance rates for more details.
How Much Is the Fine for Failing to Show a Pink Slip?
The fine for failing to show a pink slip is typically $85 plus surcharges, but it can go up to $500. If you actually don’t have an insurance policy, you can land a fine of up to $5,000.
Proof of insurance or a pink slip is a must-have item when driving in Ontario. Whether you use a paper or digital version, you need to be able to produce it whenever asked by a police officer. Otherwise, you may be hit with fines or tickets for not being able to prove your insurance status.