Whether you want to go bargain-hunting just across the border in Plattsburgh or stretch out on a California beach, you should take a few basic precautions before leaving for your destination.
If you’re planning to travel in your car, make sure all your papers are in order, your vehicle is in good order and your automobile insurance policy provides adequate coverage for your stay in the United States.
Who covers the damages sustained by the vehicle?
Any auto insurance policy issued in Quebec covers material damage that the vehicle may sustain, even if that is outside the province. Obviously, the extent of the coverage provided depends on the options the customer chooses.
For example, endorsement Q.E.F. (Quebec Endorsement Form) No. 20 provides additional coverage for costs resulting from an accident, such as rental of a hotel room, or any taxi or transit fare you may have to pay while you wait to get your vehicle back.
If you decide to rent or borrow a vehicle for your trip, it is important to make certain that you have sufficient public liability coverage (you may have to pay a slight additional premium!) and that your insurance policy includes endorsement Q.E.F. No. 27, which covers you for damages caused to vehicles you do not own.
Who covers personal injury?
If you suffer an injury in a car accident, the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) will compensate you, no matter where the mishap occurred. Whether or not you are responsible for the accident has no bearing on the compensation.
Unfortunately, it’s a whole other story in a situation where passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident may suffer personal injury or property damage. They are not covered by the SAAQ and must be adequately protected by civil liability insurance, without which your savings could dwindle quickly.
Civil liability insurance: essential!
The Americans don’t fool around with civil liability. Because a simple broken arm caused by an accident can degenerate into a legal action for hundreds of thousands of dollars, special attention must be paid to the civil liability portion of your insurance policy. This is what will cover any personal injury and/or property damage that you might cause to others.
Although the minimum compulsory amount of coverage in Quebec is $50,000, costs can easily surpass that amount, which is why your civil liability insurance should cover you for at least $2 million.
Who covers what: Overview
You and your Quebec passengers
The other party involved in the accident
Damage to the vehicle
Your automobile insurance policy
YOUR civil liability
YOUR civil liability
In the event of an accident in the United States
If the unfortunate happens en route, be sure to note the circumstances of the accident. Take photos of the other driver’s licence, registration and insurance papers and his or her full contact information. Immediately call the telephone number he or she provides to check its validity. Better to be safe than sorry in order to ensure that the others involved don’t just disappear. If there are witnesses, note their contact information too. If you don’t have a pencil and paper with you, use your cellphone to record them as they provide their name and contact information.
Because it can sometimes take months for police reports to make their way to insurance companies, simply being sure to note down this basic information can spare you plenty of complications later. When travelling south of the border, forewarned is forearmed!