What is Liability Car Insurance? Cost, Coverage in 2024

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Sunny Yadav updated on 11 March 2024

In Canada, liability car insurance is not optional but mandatory by law. This means every driver on the road must have at least the minimum coverage amount required by their province or territory. 

But what exactly is liability car insurance? Delve into its meaning, coverage specifics, legal implications, and essential considerations with us. 

From the basics to selecting adequate coverage and reputable insurers, empower yourself with the knowledge needed to navigate Canada's liability car insurance landscape. Use our free tool to compare the best car insurance options for you right here.

Liability Car Insurance: 5 Key Takeaways

  1. Covers bodily injury and property damage and coverage limits vary by province.
  2. Doesn’t cover damages to your vehicle or your medical expenses.
  3. Your location is the main cost-deciding factor.
  4. Some provinces like Ontario require higher minimum coverage than others.
  5. Coverage requirements increase with experience in provinces with graduated licensing systems.

What is liability car insurance?

In Canada, liability car insurance is mandatory and serves as the foundation of your auto insurance policy. It protects you financially if you cause an accident and are found legally responsible for damages to another person's property (such as their vehicle) or injuries they sustain. Here's a breakdown:

Liability car insurance meaning:

Liability insurance doesn't cover your car or medical expenses. Instead, it pays for:

  • Bodily injury liability: This covers medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other expenses of individuals injured in an accident you caused.
  • Property damage liability: This covers repairs or replacements for vehicles, buildings or other property damaged in an accident you caused.

Here are some key points you should keep in mind:

  • Mandatory in all provinces and territories: Minimum coverage amounts vary, ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 to $1 million for property damage.
  • Protects you from lawsuits: If someone sues you after an accident, your insurance can help cover legal costs and settlements, potentially saving you significant financial hardship.
  • Additional coverage available: While liability is mandatory, consider optional coverages like collision and comprehensive insurance for your vehicle protection.

Make sure you compare plans from different providers before choosing any policy. This will ensure that you get a good deal. You can use our comparator to do this. Compare multiple car insurance plans and get free quotes now.

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What is liability car insurance coverage?

Driving without insurance is illegal and risky. If you cause an accident without insurance, you'll be personally responsible for all damages and legal costs, which can be financially devastating.

So what does liability car insurance cover? Liability car insurance coverage refers to the specific financial protection it provides under the two main categories:

  1. Bodily injury liability: This type of coverage pays for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages related to injuries sustained by others in an accident you are at fault for. It typically covers:
  • Medical bills (hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation)
  • Lost wages due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses in case of fatalities
  • Legal fees if the injured party sues
  1. Property damage liability: This type of coverage pays for repairs or replacements to vehicles, buildings or other property damaged in an accident you are at fault for. It typically covers:
  • Repairs to damaged vehicles, fences, buildings, etc.
  • Replacement of destroyed property
  • Lost income if the damage affects a business
  • Legal fees if the property owner sues

Remember that liability insurance does not cover:

  • Damages to your vehicle: You would need collision or comprehensive coverage for that.
  • Your medical expenses: You might need personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payment coverage for that.
  • Punitive damages: These are awarded for intentional or reckless behavior and are usually not covered by insurance.

The extent of coverage for each type of liability varies. Each province in Canada has different minimum coverage requirements. For example, Ontario requires $200,000 for bodily injury per accident and $50,000 for property damage, while Alberta requires $200,000 for both.

<strong>What is third-party liability car insurance?</strong>

The terms liability car insurance and third-party liability car insurance are essentially interchangeable. They both refer to the mandatory minimum coverage required by law for all drivers, which protects others involved in an accident you cause.

How does liability car insurance work?

Here is what usually happens and how liability car insurance functions in Canada:

  1. Accident & Fault Determination: If you're involved in an accident and deemed at fault, the other driver (or property owner) files a claim against your insurance company.
  2. Claim Reporting & Investigation:
  • You contact your insurance company promptly to report the accident and file a claim.
  • Your insurance company investigates the accident, gathers evidence and assesses the validity of the claim.
  1. Coverage Assessment & Offer:
  • Your insurance company reviews your policy and coverage limits (bodily injury and property damage).
  • Based on the investigation and policy terms, they assess the validity and value of the claim.
  • They negotiate with the other party's insurance company or legal representative to reach a settlement amount.
  1. Coverage Limits & Your Responsibility:
  • Remember, liability insurance covers up to your chosen coverage limits.
  • If the settlement amount exceeds your limits, you're responsible for the remaining balance.
  • This emphasizes the importance of choosing adequate coverage based on your individual risk factors and potential costs.
  1. Payment & Legal Support:
  • If the claim is deemed valid and within your coverage limits, your insurance company pays the settlement amount to the other party.
  • In some cases, your insurance company may also provide legal defence if you're sued.

In most provinces, the Direct Compensation (DCPD) system applies where you work with your own insurance company for damages to your car, regardless of fault. However, your driving record might be affected.

Expert advice

When filing a claim, provide accurate and complete information to avoid delays or claim denial.

How much is liability insurance for a car?

The price will vary considerably depending on several key factors, your location being the main one.

Each province and territory in Canada has its minimum coverage requirements and regulations, which can impact the baseline insurance cost. 

Other than your location, your characteristics and driving history significantly determine your premium. This includes:

  1. Age: Younger drivers typically pay more due to perceived higher risk.
  2. Driving history: Accidents, tickets, and other violations result in higher premiums.
  3. Claims history: Past insurance claims can significantly increase your rates.
  4. Vehicle type: Premiums are generally higher for expensive, high-performance vehicles.
  5. Driving habits: Low annual mileage and infrequent city driving might lower your cost.
  6. Occupation: Certain professions associated with higher risk might affect your premium.

Also, varying coverage limits and additional endorsements can influence the cost even within liability insurance. Not to mention different companies have their pricing models and risk assessments, leading to price variations.

Therefore, the best way to determine the cost of liability insurance for your car is to obtain liability car insurance quotes from different insurance companies. You can do it right here, using our comparator. Just provide information about your location, driving history, vehicle, and desired coverage amount, and get quotes in no time. 

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Liability car insurance vs full coverage

Liability car insurance pays for damage you cause to others in an accident, covering their repairs and medical bills. Full coverage includes liability and also covers damage to your car, whether from accidents, theft, or natural events. Think of liability as the minimum required and full coverage as the all-in-one protection plan.

How much liability insurance should I have on my car in Canada?

Determining the ideal amount of liability car insurance is crucial in Canada, as it protects you financially in case of an accident where you're at fault.

While minimum coverage is legally required, it's often insufficient to fully protect your assets. Choosing the right amount for your specific needs requires careful consideration of various factors.

Factors to consider:

  • Minimum coverage requirements: As we mentioned earlier, these vary by province, typically ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 to $1 million for property damage. While essential, they may not be enough in today's world with rising medical costs and potential lawsuits.
  • Your assets: Consider your financial situation and potential losses you could incur if sued. Owning a home, investments or other valuable assets makes higher coverage even more crucial.
  • Driving habits and risk: Young drivers, those with poor driving records, or those driving frequently in high-risk areas may benefit from increased coverage.
  • Provincial laws: Some provinces like Ontario have a "graduated licensing system" where coverage requirements increase with experience. Be aware of such specific regulations.

Eventually, you should choose a coverage amount that provides you with peace of mind and financial security in case of unforeseen accidents.

Expert advice

While specific needs vary, exceeding the minimum is almost always advisable. Here's what you should consider:

  • Bodily injury liability: Consider $1 million or more, especially if you have significant assets or live in a densely populated area.
  • Property damage liability: $500,000 or higher might be appropriate, considering rising repair costs and potential damage to expensive property.

What are some good options for liability car insurance?

Here are some well-reputed companies that offer third-party liability insurance for cars in Canada:

  1. YouSet: A digital insurer focusing on personalized coverage based on driving habits and telematics data. It’s good for tech-savvy drivers comfortable with app-based assessments.
  2. Economical Insurance: Established and affordable option across most provinces. It specializes in covering high-risk drivers but might have higher premiums for low-risk individuals.
  3. Intact Insurance: Large nationwide insurer offering personalized solutions and strong customer service. It offers a wider range of options and potentially higher premiums than some competitors.
  4. CAA: Membership-based association offering car insurance in select provinces. CAA has competitive rates for members with additional benefits like roadside assistance.
  5. Onlia Car Insurance: Another digital insurer with a full online experience and customizable coverage. Onlia is similar to YouSet in focusing on technology, good for tech-savvy drivers. 

If you want to compare the best car insurance options and their coverage with each other, you can use our comparator below. It's 100% free to use and completely online.

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What are the tips to get cheap liability car insurance?

  1. Shop Around: Compare quotes from multiple insurance companies to find the best rates for liability insurance. Or you can use the HelloSafe comparator and get quick quotes right here.
  2. Increase Your Deductible: Opt for a higher deductible to lower your premium, but make sure it’s an amount you can afford if you need to make a claim.
  3. Take Advantage of Discounts: Look for discounts you qualify for, like those for good driving records, completing a driving course, or having multiple policies with the same insurer.


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Sunny Yadav Copywriter

Sunny has over six years of experience curating engaging content spanning across industries. Specifically in finance, his expertise is insurance reviews and lending and investment topics.