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Why drivers get dropped from auto policies without knowing

January 15th, 2024  |  Auto Insurance

Have you checked the expiry date on your licence or vehicle’s plate recently?

You may want to.

Ontario drivers used to get a notice in the mail. In 2022, the province stopped sending them. But one Whitby, Ont., broker told Canadian Underwriter late last year they were seeing an increase in auto insurance policy non-renewals from clients whose licences have expired without their knowledge.

That means some drivers only realized it had expired after receiving notices about the non-renewal of their auto insurance policy.

Early in 2023, when Ottawa police conducted a traffic blitz they found ‘a dramatic increase’ in motorists driving with expired licences, according to CBC News.

Police said many people who were pulled over were surprised to discover it had expired and plead ignorance because they didn't get the reminder. Officers weren’t buying it.

"It's not the obligation of the [Ministry of Transportation] to remind you," said Ottawa Police Sgt. Rob Cairns in an interview at the time. "It's down to the individual to ensure the car is properly licensed and they also have a current driving licence."

Forgetting to renew can hit you in the wallet in more ways than one.

"You could see an increase in your premium if your licence has expired [or] has been expired for too long," said Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada told CBC News. "If you're involved in an accident, you have the potential of a claim being denied because your licence is suspended."

The fine for an expired plate is $110 in Ontario, which rises to $325 for an expired licence. Compare that with $90 to renew your licence for five years. There is no cost to renew your plate, but it must be done every 1 to 2 years. (For most this will be before your birthday)

Drivers can go to any ServiceOntario location to get their licence reinstated. They may be able to get their auto policy renewed as long as too much time hasn’t passed. If the licence has lapsed too long before the driver renews it, they might be required to retake their test. Then, they’d have to pay new driver premiums again on their insurance policy.

Some brokers are now reminding clients to check their licence expiration at the same time they receive their insurance renewal notice.

When Ontario announced the change in late 2021, the province said the change was to “modernize” ServiceOntario courtesy renewal notices. Drivers can sign up for free on the Service Ontario website to receive the digital reminders by email or phone for their licence, plate and health card. To do so, visit

Some groups, however, were exempt and still receive paper notices. They are:

Exemptions for driver’s licence holders and vehicle owners

Paper renewal notices for driver’s licence holders and vehicle owners will continue for:

  • Individuals aged 70 years and older.
  • Individuals with a driver’s licence class A, B, C, D, E, or F.
  • Individuals with endorsements that require additional testing (i.e. airbrake).
  • Individuals who have a licence plate sticker associated with a company/fleet vehicle.
  • Individuals who have jointly owned vehicles.
  • Heavy commercial vehicles.

To be sure, it’s a good idea to check the expiry date printed on your licence which usually coincides with your birthday. The expiry date for passenger vehicle, light commercial vehicle, motorcycle or moped licence plates can be found here using your licence plate and vehicle permit numbers.

With files from Canadian Underwriter

RELATED READING: How to renew your Ontario Driver's Licence

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