No one likes paying for car insurance, but it’s as essential for driving as gasoline and tires. It’s a requirement to cover any losses to other vehicles, people or property should you be involved in a crash, but it’s also a way to protect yourself and your own vehicle.

There are some variances in insurance across Canadian provinces and territories, but all of them have minimum requirements, as well as available policy add-ons. How much you’ll pay depends on such factors as your driving record, your vehicle’s value, your deductible, and whether you fall into any high-risk categories due to your age or driving experience.

In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the mandatory basic coverage is provided by government-run insurance companies, and drivers can buy additional coverage from private or government companies. In Quebec, auto insurance is provided by both a government insurer and private agencies. Personal injury is covered under Quebec’s no-fault system and provided by the government. Insurance to cover property damage to the vehicle is provided by private insurance companies. In all other provinces and territories, insurance is sold by private companies.

You also have to carry third-party liability insurance, which covers anyone you hit, and you must be insured for a minimum of $200,000 of coverage everywhere except Quebec, where it is $50,000. However, it is generally recommended to carry more than the minimum level of coverage as it would not be sufficient in many claims. As well, drivers everywhere except in Newfoundland and Labrador must have coverage for their own medical expenses and loss of income due to vehicle-related injuries.

It may be tempting to drive without coverage if you’re quoted very high premiums, but that is a bad idea. Not only do you risk a heavy fine if you’re caught, but should you crash, you could be on the hook for astronomical amounts of damage or injury payouts. It’s just not worth it.

Insurance has a language all its own, and you may not be familiar with all of the terms. We’ve assembled a glossary, but if there’s anything you don’t understand about your policy, always ask your insurer or broker to explain it in plain language. It’s essential to be “in the know.”

Click the next slide above to scroll through our gallery of key terms.