Vehicle Insurance

Vehicle Insurance when driving on UofA business:

Update: January 2007

This was intended to be a 'short' overview of the kinds of insurance that are needed for driving a vehicle and who might provide the coverage. While it is not so short, it may still provide a useful explanation for drivers. This information is intended to compliment that available on the Risk Management web pages onVehicle Insurance and on Renting Vehicle from other agencies. Please consult that site for further details on insurance coverage at the University of Alberta. Check with the contacts at the Office of Risk Management if you have any questions: Two kinds of insurance are needed for driving: 1. Third Party Liability (TP Liability): covers damages to other people's property or personal injuries caused by your vehicle (FYI, the first party is the renter, the second party is the insurer and the third party is anyone else not named in the agreement between the renter and the insurer, usually someone you have 'bumped into'). 
2. Collision Damage: covers repairs to the vehicle you are driving

Depending on the circumstances, this insurance may be provided by: the UofA, the rental agency, your automobile insurance company or a policy through your credit card company.

Coverage by the UofA's insurance for TP Liability and Collision Damage will only be for those who:

  • are currently approved to drive UofA Vehicles
  • have a recent driver's abstract on file at Vehicle Pool
  • are driving on UofA business
  • are driving on public roads in Canada or the USA
  • are driving a UofA vehicle or one provided by a major rental agency
If you are not approved to drive a University vehicle, then you must rent from an outside agency and purchase all the insurance from them. The University's insurance will not be extended to cover liability claims or collision repairs. Make sure that you purchase sufficient liability and collision coverage from the rental agency and make sure you do not exceed any restrictions on their coverage (such as driving off of public roadways).

Insurance Coverage for different vehicles: 
Another way to look at insurance is based on the ownership of vehicle you are driving.

1. Vehicle rented through vehicle pool or Department-owned:

  • bought and owned by the UofA ( a fleet vehicle)
  • one from a outside agency that is supplied through vehicle pool
  • bought by a researcher (e.g. using a research grant, also referred to as department-owned vehicles)
UofA provides both kinds of insurance (liability and collision) to staff, volunteers and collaborators IF
a) they have been approved to drive a UofA vehicle (submit a driver information form, have a recent driver's abstract on file and, for employees hired after March 2003, complete a defensive driving course and a road evaluation) 
b) are driving in Canada or the USA on public roadways (see below if driving on private roads) 
c) are driving on UofA business 2. Vehicles obtained directly through a rental agency in Canada or the USA:

These usually have some TP Liability included, but make sure it is at least $1M (buy more if necessary). The UofA Collision insurance may be extended to this vehicle if you have been approved to drive UofA vehicles, you are on UofA business and if the lease period is 30 days or less (i.e. the collision coverage cannot be used for a long term vehicle lease). If you want to lease the vehicle for 3 months, you would need to return the vehicle every 30 days and sign a new lease agreement.
When you rent the vehicle, name the University of Alberta in the rental agreement and you can decline to purchase the Collision Damage protection from the rental agency. Check with the office of Insurance and Risk Management if you have any questions on this.

If you are not eligible to use the UofA Collision insurance, then purchase coverage from the rental company. This is the CDW or LDW (collision damage or loss damage waiver) offered at the time of rental and where the agency agrees not to hold you responsible for repairs to the vehicle if you pay them ~$20/day. If you do not purchase this, then you are personally responsible for repairing any damage to the vehicle. Even if you do purchase the CDW, it may not apply if you exceed the terms of the agreement. Make sure you understand what exclusions or restrictions apply to any of the coverage that you are relying on to protect you. 
Some limitations might be:

  • can only drive within the province/state where vehicle was rented;
  • can only drive on paved public roadways (no gravel, no private roads, no off road travel)
  • can only drive certain kinds of vehicles (e.g. a car or light truck)
  • any coverage might be void if you are found to have broken the law (e.g. speeding) or are driving under the influence/impaired. If this occurs, you are personally responsible for any claims
Alternatives to the CDW agreement from the rental agency:
  • your personal vehicle insurance may be extended to rental vehicles if you have paid for this in your policy
  • your credit card plan may include this coverage if you use the card to rent the vehicle

3. Vehicle Rentals outside of Canada/USA:

UofA insurance will not be extended to you so you should purchase as much TP liability and Collision coverage as you are allowed at the time of renting. 

4. Privately owned vehicle:

You must provide your own TP Liability and Collision coverage; the UofA policy will not be extended to privately owned vehicles. 

Please note, your private policy is intended for personal use of the vehicle and might allow a limited amount of driving for business purposes but if the limit is exceeded, you must purchase an additional business rider for your policy to ensure you have coverage.

Some Special Cases:

1. Driving on Private Roads / Off-Road Driving: 
The UofA may cover both the TP Liability insurance and Collision damage repairs for both vehicles rented through vehicle pool as well as ones rented from a major rental agency IF:
  • you meet the conditions mentioned above for being approved to drive and IF
  • you advise the Risk Management office (see bottom of page) prior to driving as to:
    • where you will be driving and
    • what kind of vehicle you will be using (the vehicle must be appropriate for the road conditions, e.g. a pickup truck or 4x4 with a high road clearance and heavy-duty tires rather than a sub-compact).

It is up to the renter / driver to check ahead of time as to what kind of roadways they might be driving on to see if some might be private (not maintained by any municipal or provincial authority). Some areas where private roads have been encountered include:

  • logging roads
  • oil service roads
  • roads on a farm property
  • fire access roads in a provincial or national park

Indications that a road is not public might be:

  • if you have to enter through a gate,
  • if the road is posted as being private,
  • if a road on a map is not marked with any provincial road numbers
Research groups that know or think they might do some driving on private roads should contact the Risk Management office at the start of each field season to let them know of your intentions. Risk Management needs to know the extent of such driving so they can ensure that our insurance policies include this kind of driving. 

2. Driving to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre:

This is just a specific example of driving on a private road. Several researchers from our department travel to and from this research station on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The only road access to this area is via privately-owned logging roads (both from Port Alberni as well as from Cowachin Lake). Although these roads are accessible to the public, they are private roads and not all sections may be graded so it may be quite 'rough' in places. Information on Getting to Bamfield does mention some limitations to road access.

If you are going to drive a rental vehicle to Bamfield (one from Vehicle Pool or rented from a major rental company) and you are relying on the UofA insurance to cover you for TP Liability and Collision Damage repairs; then:

  • make sure you are approved to drive a UofA vehicle
  • notify Risk Management ahead of time as to where you are going and ensure that you will be using a vehicle suitable for this road (e.g. a 4x4 truck)
If you are planning on renting locally and use the rental company's TP liability and CDW to protect you, make sure it extends to driving on this road since in 2005, a vehicle was damaged and required towing and the entire amount (> $1000 ) was applied to the renter's credit card as this driving was excluded in the signed agreement.

3. Driving from the USA into Mexico:

If you drive from the USA into Mexico, neither the UofA insurance or that from any rental agency in Canada or the USA will apply. You must get insurance from a broker in Mexico to cover you while there. Contact the Risk Management office for advice on this. 

In conclusion, be sure to check the "fine print" on any insurance being offered through rental agencies, your own private vehicle policy or a credit card plan policy as there will be restrictions on that coverage. Make sure you understand all the limits before you start driving as your personal bank account/credit rating can be at stake.

Remember, it is your signature on that rental agreement, not that of the Department Chair or the Risk Manager. 

Contacts at the Office of Insurance and Risk Management:

Steven Podkowka
Risk Analyst
email: stephen.podkowka@ualberta.ca
telephone: 492-8887

Linda Dudley
Manager: Insurance & Risk Mgmt 
email: linda.dudley@ualberta.ca
telephone: 492-8876