Laws and Insurance Feed

Looks like Canadians Driving in Florida Will Be OK

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A couple of weeks ago many Canadians were outraged because suddenly they had heard a law had been passed which appeared to require all drivers who were not from the USA to obtain an international driving permit to drive in Florida.

Finally after much confusion in the general public, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued the following statement :

"During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.

It has come to the Department’s attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit."

This information surely is a relief to many Canadians and "Snow Birds" who were already in Florida for their "Winter Stay" when the original information was released. The above statement was issued February 14th. According to VisitFlorida 3.1 million Canadians visited Florida in 2010. They suggest that despite the statement about the international permits, it is still recommended that you check with your local car insurer before you travel to Florida to make sure you will be covered, good advice regardless of the new law under review.

Driving Out Of Province & Your Insurance

Any time your vehicle is out of your country of residence for more than a couple of days, it always is recommended to check with your insurance company to see what their limitations are (if any) on out of country/province use. Sometimes they just put a note in the file acknowledging you will be using the vehicle out of country or even province, however other times if the trip exceeds a couple of weeks they may decide to add a small charge. Some companies do this after 3 weeks, others after six. I also have some insurers who don't charge anything. Each insurance company has their own rules on how they handle out of province exposure, so make sure to call and find out if you're with the best company for your needs - don't get caught by surprise. You might even save some money by finding out about the options!

Laws are different everywhere, so it's always better to be safe rather than sorry. Make sure that you do not have any issues if you have an accident or claim - always check with your insurance provider before leaving town. 

What your friends companies do may vary from your own - don't take a chance.

Want an International Permit Anyway? 

For those of you who decide you want to get an International Permit anyway, it's not difficult or that big a deal.

For all the hassle of following what the Floridians will be doing with this law, you may want to consider just picking one up. You have to be 18 to get one, with a valid canadian drivers license. The permit costs $25. You can contact CAA to find out more.

For people who are currently out of Canada, like our many residents currently in Florida, you can also request one by mail! CAA is the only organization in Canada authorized to issue an International Driving Permit.

  • Were you in Florida when news of this situation came up?
  • What are you going to do, pick up a permit anyway, or wait for the law to be amended?

Got a ticket for using your mobile phone while driving? It's going to cost you...

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Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...Image via Wikipedia

It used to be that speeding tickets were the main concern for drivers. Times have changed, and with the rise in popularity of mobile devices we have new concerns on the road. Distracted motorists using their hand held devices have caused more accidents, because of this laws regarding their use have tightened. In Quebec, using a hand held device while driving has been prohibited since April 2008.



In  line with new stats released by Quebec's provincial police force's analysis of the state of traffic safety for 2011,  the number of violations for texting or using the phone while driving still seem to be a concern.  Our attachments to our phones are still creating road safety hazards, and despite the strict laws which prohibit the use of a hand held device while driving, the information indicates people are still texting, talking and driving using handheld devices.

The law is pretty specific, even if the person is not using the phone, simply having it in their hand is reason to get a ticket.

The big question some people have is:

Does this affect my insurance rate?

Insurance companies have not come up with "Mobile phone use discounts" but what many do have is a "Conviction Free" or "Safe driving" discount.


This type of discount reduces your car insurance premiums.  If you are no longer eligible, it can be removed.

So although we can not say we have a specific penalty for people who use mobile phones while driving, in a round about way, you risk being penalized because to have a violation in your driving record for any kind of ticket or conviction (barring a parking ticket) you lose the discount and your rates go up.

Besides an increase in insurance rate, you could also see higher premiums for renewing your drivers license - since the SAAQ also takes into account your driving record when determining your renewal rate.

So overall, when you look at the big picture, you will not only have to pay the ticket you get for driving while using a handheld device, you may also lose demerit points off your license, pay more for your license renewal and if you had a conviction free or safe driving discount before, you will see your insurance rate go up too.

Focusing on the road while driving and using the hands-free device in your car makes a lot more dollars and "sense" not only for your safety and those of others, but for your bank account too.  Don't pay more than you have to, be safe and hands- free.

Have you been stopped for using your mobile phone? What do you think of the law, leave a comment and join the conversation! 




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Winter Tires - Why Bother?

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Winter road
A couple of years ago the Quebec Government in Canada passed a law about winter tires:  From December 15th to March 15th, ALL tires mounted on a  passenger vehicle  must be specifically designed for winter driving.  

At the time, I , like many people who live in colder climates had used All Seasons for years. I didn't really think there was an issue, after all, years of driving with All Seasons, and no problems, right?

10am in a snowstormI can tell you from experience, and as someone who went into it very annoyed at the inconvenience of changing tires twice a year - it is well worth it.  I am a pretty strong winter driver, even on my previous All Seasons I always knew how to adjust my driving to deal with any conditions.  Safety was always important to me, yet I had never bothered with winter tires until the law passed.

Today,  I can't even imagine driving without them. You will feel safer, you will have better control of the road, you will be protecting yourself and your family so much better.

Our climate is changing, we are seeing major increases in the amounts of snow we see and ice storms.  When you drive in snow storms or in icy conditions, do you see people unable to manage the roads, stuck or struggling, driving at a turtles pace simply because they can't get their vehicle to move forward in the slush, snow and ice?  Or maybe, this person is you?

Don't end up on the side of the road because you are having problems controlling your vehicle.

Off the road - Winter TiresWherever you are, if you drive in a region that has snowfall or sees temperature drops, don't wait for it to become a regulation or mandated by law.  

Get your winter tires now, it will extend the life of your all seasons/summer tires, it will give you the control that you need on the road - beyond what you have ever experienced with All Seasons.  It will keep you on track.

Its an investment in your safety. Your regular tires will last twice as long, since they will be used in the conditions they were built for.  

I found the video below from the Insurance Bureau of Canada which shows road tests on an ice skating rink - really interesting.  Hope it helps convince any of you out there who don't see the value in snow tires to give it a second thought.

English: Severe snow rating symbol for car tiresImage via Wikipedia


How do you know a winter tire ?

  • Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appears: Alaska | Arctic | A/T or AT | Blizzard | Ice | LT | Nordic
  • Snow (but not Mud & Snow) | Stud | Ultratraction | Winter
  • Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.

From an insurance perspective, we are still seeing claims where people were driving without winter tires. At this time, the insurers are handling these case by case. From our experience with our insurers, which include Aviva, Chubb, Missisquoi, Guarantee Company of North America , and Intact, we have not seen any claims denied due to the violation of the law which requires winter tires.  However, in Quebec, it is a law and so everyone here should have them installed. We advise all our clients to have them installed and respect the law.


A real driver is interested in performance, equip your vehicle for winter, you'll enjoy the ride, you'll have better control and everyone will be safer.

Leave the skating on ice or sliding down slippery slopes for outdoor sports and gain control of the road.

Have you installed your winter tires yet? What's your experience? Please share in the comments below and join the conversation!

Screen Captures

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