Have Original Insurance Card and Driver’s Licence When Pulled Over

Update:          

Although it's best not to have the original ownership card in your car, an original insurance card and driver's licence are mandatory in case you are stopped by police.

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Q: I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to store your registration and insurance slip in your car. However, the law requires that you provide these to police, if requested. With multiple drivers of a vehicle, what is the best way to handle this? Will a copy of the registration and insurance suffice as opposed to the original?

A: Section 7(5) HTA requires motorists to carry either the actual permit (ownership) or “a true copy” at all times.

Section 3(1) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA) demands that motor vehicle drivers carry either an insurance card for the vehicle or an insurance card evidencing that the operator is insured under a contract of automobile insurance.

Drivers on a highway are required to present both documents if requested by police.

For security reasons, it’s preferable not to carry the original permit in the vehicle, since a fraudster (or spouse in a divorce proceeding) might use it to attempt to transfer ownership without your knowledge.

The CAIA is silent on the issue of a copy of the insurance card, so it’s best to carry an original to be safe. Most insurers provide at least two insurance cards per vehicle. If you prefer, you can keep the insurance card in your purse or wallet, rather than the vehicle. The key thing is that you have it available if stopped by police. (The actual insurance policy document itself is also valid as proof of insurance.)

Further on this issue, a charge of “fail to have/surrender insurance card” under S. 3(1) CAIA is typically withdrawn if you request either a meeting with the prosecutor or a trial, and present one valid for when you were stopped. This is solely at the discretion of the prosecutor, however.

With the prevalence of handheld electronic media today offering wireless internet access, such as a Blackberry, drivers caught short during a police traffic stop could even call up the document on-the-spot if they have online access to their auto insurance account. However, it would be up to police whether or not to accept this.

Q: I’ve heard that a criminal conviction for impaired operation of a motor vessel (power boat), snowmobile, or even a riding lawnmower would affect your auto insurance the same as a drunk driving conviction in a car or truck? Is this correct?

What about HTA convictions not involving a motor vehicle (e.g. bicyclist or pedestrian violations)? Would these also affect your auto insurance rates?

A: Mark Klein, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, replies:

There’s no clear-cut answer to your reader’s first question (boat licenses, I have been told, are issued by the federal government) and riding lawnmowers don’t require a license at all. As for snowmobiles, they are licensed by provincial Ministries of Transportation and operating one while impaired could — depending on jurisdiction — affect one’s auto insurance rates.

As for the second question: Neither bicyclists nor pedestrians require a driver’s license or insurance, irresponsible biking/walking would have no affect on (auto) insurance rates.

Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols adds:

Where a person has been mistakenly assessed demerit points on their driver’s licence for an HTA conviction not committed with a motor vehicle (e.g. cyclist or pedestrian), they should ask the court office to notify the Ministry to have those points removed from their driving record.

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