Adapting to a new country isn’t always easy. You have to find a place to live, get a new job, and figure out the laws and regulations in your adoptive country. Where laws are concerned, insurance is an important way to make sure you’re covered if you run into trouble.
Auto insurance is required by law everywhere in Canada. It covers the owner and driver of a vehicle, as well as any passengers, pedestrians, and property involved in a vehicle accident.
Vehicle insurance is regulated by the provinces. In Quebec, any vehicle travelling on a public road has to be insured, explains Caroline Phémius, public relations advisor with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). IBC is the association that represents most Canadian property and casualty insurance companies.
Here in Quebec, residents who are hurt in an accident are covered through the public insurance plan administered by Société d’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), whether the accident occurs in Quebec or elsewhere. “An insurance amount is included when people pay for their drivers’ license,” says Ms. Phémius.
Vehicle damage and civil liability are covered by private insurers. The mandatory minimum for civil liability insurance is $50,000, but drivers can choose to increase that amount. “We recommend one to two million dollars in civil liability insurance,” says Caroline Phémius. That way, if you hurt someone else or are driving in the United States or another part of Canada, you’ll be better protected.”
The rules that govern auto insurance are different in each province. Ontario, for example, doesn’t have public auto insurance; physical injuries and property damage are both covered by private insurance companies. In British Columbia, on the other hand, both types of damage are covered by a public insurance corporation.
Even though for renters it isn’t required by law, some landlords require their tenants to carry home insurance. It’s a highly recommended form of coverage. For owners, anyone with a mortgage is usually required by their creditor to take out home insurance.
“In addition to protecting your goods and property, home insurance covers civil liability in case you're held responsible for any involuntary damage or injury to anyone else. An example would be an accidental fire in your kitchen that causes significant damage to your neighbour’s apartment or even the whole building, or a guest who’s injured in your home,” explains Caroline Phémius. “If your front steps weren’t properly cleared of snow and someone were to slip and break their arm, they could take you to court. In that case, your insurer would handle your defence and pay the legal fees.”
What can be covered by home insurance? Fire, theft, and vandalism, for starters, but also damage caused by high winds, hail, lightning, an explosion, or smoke, as well as leaky or overflowing water or sewage lines.
You can add additional riders to your insurance contract if you need extra coverage. “For someone living in a basement suite or on the ground floor, a rider that covers sewer backups can be a very good idea,” says Caroline Phémius. “There are also riders for water damage that occurs above ground, either through the roof or the windows.”
Credit cards are considered part of payment options in Canada. But what would happen if, for one reason or another, you weren’t able to pay your card at the end of the month?
Credit card payment protection plans are an optional form of coverage offered by the financial institutions that issue credit cards. The conditions vary, but generally, in case of death or life‑threatening illness, a payment protection plan will cover your credit card payments in full or up to a certain amount.
If you lose your job through no fault of your own or lose your ability to work, the insurance will pay between 5 and 20% of your monthly balance for anywhere from 5 to 24 months.
Premiums for this type of insurance are calculated each month based on the balance of your credit card—the higher the balance, the higher the premium.
To summarize, know that there are many forms of coverage, including mortgage insurance, personal loan insurance, travel insurance, and lines of credit. Just make sure you give your insurer all the details of your situation, so they can recommend the right insurance products for you.
The National Bank offers its newcomer customers a telephone assistance program, Assistance service for newcomers™. Its representatives are available to answer questions related to immigration.
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