If you’re one of 75% of Canadians living within 160km of the Canada-US border, chances are you travel to the US from Canada by car often. Maybe you’re taking advantage of Black Friday sales or picking up online purchases shipped to a nearby US postal address. As the holidays approach, parking lots, intersections, highways and border crossings are even more congested, increasing a chance of an accident. Add rain, snow or sleet to the mix, and bam, accidents happen! If you’re in a car or motorcycle accident in the States, here’s what you should know about making a motor vehicle accident claim.
3 types of insurance may play a part if you’re in a motor vehicle accident on a trip
- Collision—covers damage to your vehicle. You purchase this through your auto insurer. Collision Insurance doesn’t cover emergency medical bills (outside of Canada or the US), which is where travel insurance comes in.
- Emergency Medical Insurance, a.k.a. travel insurance—covers you. If you’re injured or fall unexpectedly ill, your emergency medical costs will be covered. You purchase this through a travel insurance provider (like one of our many partners).
- Liability or ‘third party insurance’—covers injury or damage to others. This is part of your car insurance here in Canada, but it’s different in the States. Liability insurance benefits in the States are incredibly low, compared to our Canadian standards. This is why emergency travel insurance is important: the other party’s liability insurance will not likely cover all your emergency costs.
What this all means is that your car insurance is your primary coverage when you’re in an accident. All travel insurance is in excess of your primary coverage, which means in all cases, you’ll need to go through your auto insurer first. The good news? Travel insurance covers the eligible expenses that weren’t paid by your auto insurer.
What if you get in a car accident in the US? Here’s what to do to open a motor vehicle accident claim:
- Open a claim with your auto insurer, and follow their process.
- While you’re waiting to hear back from your auto insurance, contact your travel insurance company to give them the heads up. Our claims department, for example, appreciates it when travellers let us know about the accident. We even try to speed of the process by preparing claim forms in advance, and putting a note in your file. If we can help, we’re happy to look into it!
- Keep anything your auto insurance provider sends you. These documents will come in handy if you have any unpaid, eligible amounts.
- Call your travel insurance claims line. Let them know of any payment you’ve received at that point. If any of your expenses are not covered by that policy, they’ll look into it then.
What if you’re not driving your own vehicle?
Your travel insurance covers ANY excess medical emergency costs, even if you’re in a friend’s vehicle, or a rental car. As for the vehicle, it depends on your auto insurer. If there’s physical damage from the collision, you’ll go through them first.
What if you can’t drive back home?
Say you’ve driven your car to the States (or anywhere outside of your home province, for that matter) and had an emergency. If your doctor deems you are unable to continue driving on your trip, Emergency Travel Medical Insurance like ours will cover the return of your vehicle, for example if we have to air-evacuate you to your home province. If you’re travelling alone, or your travel companion can’t drive the vehicle back, a travel insurance policy like ours will cover the return of your vehicle. If your car is not drivable, or too damaged to drive back, arrangements can be made, usually via your auto insurer.
What if you’re in an accident in a rental car in the US?
Your Canadian auto insurance may not extend coverage to rental cars in the US. It depends on the add-ons you’ve purchased with your auto insurer. Have our Rental Car Protection? Then you’re covered for up to $50,000 per trip for physical damage or loss of a rented or leased vehicle. This is good to know for snowbirds who lease a car in the States! Rental car protection also covers things like
- Fire department charges (bet you never thought of that one before, right?)
Travel medical insurance is of course necessary to cover any medical emergencies or personal medical costs tied to an accident, whether in a rented or owned vehicle.
If you purchased the (usually costly) rental car travel insurance provided by the rental car company, make sure you investigate their coverage in detail and ask questions about their benefits and exclusions before you drive away.
When in doubt, ask questions about your car or travel insurance, especially when travel to the US from Canada in concerned. We’ll be happy to help!
Get more travel tips on shopping in the US (just in time for Black Friday!)
Happy travels, and safe driving,