Canadians’ involved in USA car accidents

Canadians who head south for the winter are commonly referred to as “Snowbirds”. It is synonymous with all Northern residents (both in Canada and USA), who migrate south every year to avoid the cold winter weather. Who can blame them. The Sunny southern states provide fun, beaches, activities, and relaxation for every one.

Canadians involved in USA Accidents

So how many Canadian Snowbirds are there and where do they go?
The present estimate is that approximately 4 million Canadian and Northern US residents head to Florida. States such as South and North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Arizona also experience an influx of migrating Birds but Florida remains the number one destination.

Travelling is not risk free.
Before going south, Canadians need to make sure they have extra medical & travel insurance. It is also a very good idea to purchase or increase certain optional car insurance coverages. In particular we recommend you increase your liability limits; Statutory Accident Benefits; and make sure you have Underinsured/uninsured motorist protection. These optional benefits are relatively inexpensive and in a bad accident are invaluable to you and your family.

Canadians involved in US accidents!
Accidents happen. The law of the state where the accident happened dictates the rights and remedies you have (Tort rights). In most states you can sue (or be sued) for pain and suffering and any economic losses suffered. Furthermore, each state has different procedural rules as to when and how a claim can be made. You will need a lawyer/attorney in that state to provide legal advice.

Statutory Accident Benefits and Personal Injury Protection: Literally everyone involved in a car accident has some form of insurance to help pay for immediate health care expenses. These contractual claims must be remitted to your insurer in the state or province where you purchased your car insurance. For example Canadians involved in a Florida car accident, can sue in Florida, but they must remit their contractual claims to their Ontario insurer.

Canadian car insurers also provide Underinsured and Uninsured Benefits: Each state and province requires car drivers to have certain minimum liability and contractual benefits. If you are injured by an underinsured or an uninsured driver, you can claim any financial shortfall from you own car insurer up to the limit of the policy.

Here are some more examples.

  • Canadians (excluding Quebec residents) not at fault or partially at fault for the accident and injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver – can claim the financial shortfall from their own car policy. This protection extends to family members. The claim must be brought in Canada.
  • A Canadian involved in any car accident in North America, regardless of fault, is immediately eligible for their Provincial Statutory (PIP) Accident Benefits. These contractual benefits (up to $1,000,000 in Ontario) pay for medical, rehabilitation, attendant care expenses and limited Income replacement benefits.

Applying for (PIP) Statutory Accident Benefits. Accidents and incidents need to be reported to your insurance companies. They in turn will send to you a Accident Claim Form. This form must be completed and returned to your insurance company as soon as practicable.

Property Damage Claims: Subject to the extent of the Property damage, claims should be reported to your car insurer. Most likely they are to be submitted directly to them for reimbursement. Contact your insurer especially if your vehicle needs to be towed or returned to Canada.


Ontario has one of the best Statutory Accident Benefit schemes in North America. If you are involved in a car accident, the SAB coverage will immediately assist you in the payment of hospital, medical, and rehabilitative needs. These benefits allow Hospital Discharge Planners and Social Workers to immediately help facilitate your return home.

The Province of Ontario is again providing OHIP coverage for injuries, accidents and illnesses that arise while travelling outside of the province. This has nothing to do with car insurance other then the fact it is referred to as first loss coverage. OHIP though is ridiculously inadequate. It will barely cover any USA Hospital and Medical charges that you might incur in an emergency. Private Medical coverage should be purchased for every family member prior to leaving the province and/or Canada.

Check this article:

Covid-19: If your not vaccinated there is little chance you will be able to purchase private travel insurance let alone be able to enter most first world countries. Buyer Beware: Most Canadian travel policies exclude, or significantly reduce its financial responsibility, for claims that arise from pre-existing injuries, illnesses, or diseases.

Canadians involved in US Car Accidents need Legal Advice. Cross Border Car Accidents are exceptionally complicated. Don’t hesitate call the Snowbird Helpline.

Contact the snowbird hotline

snowbird accident helpline


Canadian snowbirds involved in USA Accidents

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At Howie, Sacks & Henry we only practise personal injury law. And it shows. With more than 40 years experience, our dedication to handle serious personal injury cases with compassion, professionalism, and expertise has made us one of Canada’s top personal injury law firms, as ranked by our peers in Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

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