Civil liability: What's it all about?

When was the last time you and your friends chatted insurance? Admittedly, it’s not the most interesting topic to discuss over drinks. People also tend not to think too much about insurance while in school because generally they’re covered by their parents’ plan. But did you know that in some cases you actually might not be? It’s always good to check with a property and casualty insurance agent to be sure!

Insurance is a funny thing: you pay to protect yourself from a potential problem that you hope never happens. So, best case scenario, some might say you’re paying for a service you’ll never actually receive. But (spoiler alert) just because you don’t see the coverage, it doesn’t mean it’s not there! For one thing, if and when something unexpected does happen, you can rest easy. Good coverage can make all the difference.

Did you know that civil liability is a key component of good insurance coverage? This type of coverage, which is included in all property and casualty (or damage) insurance, is often overlooked or misunderstood. So let’s take a closer look at it.

So what does civil liability actually do?

In terms of coverage, think of it like that trusty pair of fleece long underwear you always have on when you’re out snowshoeing in minus -20 degrees. Simply put, it’s there to keep you covered in case a big problem pops up unexpectedly, whether a personal injury or property damage. But what do we mean by “big problem?” Let’s say your roommate inadvertently sets fire to your apartment and damages a neighbour’s unit, or your herb garden falls off your balcony and hits someone on the head and they take you to court. In situations like these, civil liability comes to the rescue.

This protection is quite affordable and often provides coverage of $1 to $2 million, and sometimes more. In some cases, rental property landlords or car loan services may require a minimum level of civil liability coverage. But since the difference in premiums between lower and higher coverage is small, it’s best to aim high.

Plus, with tenant and home insurance, the coverage follows you everywhere—not just at home—so you’re even protected when travelling or at school! That means if you left the water running in the bath tub on the 8th floor of your Airbnb in Mexico, you’d still be covered. With auto insurance, you’re only covered in Canada and the United States.

Insurance and apartments: a real home run

Leaving home to live in an apartment is often a big step. Free at last! Same thing when you’re finally able to afford a bigger, better apartment—without four roommates in tow. Bravo! But say you come home one rainy night and notice your computer is all wet and there’s a new stream of water on the ceiling that somehow wasn’t mentioned in the lease or list of apartment amenities… What do you do?

Here’s another scenario: One night when you’re feeling creative and want to impress your four roommates with a “great” idea to fry up a batch of french fries without a deep fryer. But 15 minutes later, the only thing that’s impressive is how many firefighters it takes to put out the flames.

Last example (because bad things always happen in threes): Imagine coming home one winter’s night only to find the door wide open. When you walk through the living room to your bedroom, you see that your TV, computers, tablets, bicycles, turntable and records are all gone. The question is who’s going to pay for you to replace, find or repair everything you lost?

After the fire, who will pay for your clothes, temporary housing or living expenses?

  1. You
  2. Your parents
  3. Inheritance from a long-lost uncle
  4. Nobody
  5. Tenant insurance

Obviously, the correct answer is “E.” Tenant insurance - This link will open in a new window. is perfect for protecting your apartment and your finances, and for giving you peace of mind should any of the above situations occur. Getting a quote takes no time, and you’ll get beneficial rates and coverage tailored to your actual needs.

You can also insure your property, and sometimes other people’s, against fire, theft, vandalism and water damage. Plus you can choose the amount of civil liability coverage you want in case of damage caused to others, as in the above examples. Some landlords require tenants to provide proof of insurance, while others may even stipulate the minimum coverage you have to take out, for example $2 million.

Auto insurance: For driving peace of mind

Unless you’re close enough to family, work, school and friends that active transportation is an option, it can be handy to have a car, whether it’s a basic beater, a fancy electric model, or grandpa’s old clunker. Once you’ve gotten everything inspected and set up to your liking (especially for winter), you’re gonna need auto insurance - This link will open in a new window., no matter what your vehicle is worth (or isn’t).

“Once you get a car, civil liability insurance is a must,” says Angela Iermieri, financial planner and group savings rep for Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc.

As you may have guessed, civil liability is one of the types of coverage included in auto insurance. Angela points out that it covers damage involuntarily or accidentally caused to others. She says that in Quebec, although every vehicle owner is required to hold at least $50,000 in coverage, “most opt for a million dollars or more.” And that’s what she advises everyone to do. Since civil liability insurance is not the same in Quebec as it is in other Canadian provinces or the United States, it’s best to talk to a representative to learn more about the differences.

Take the high road

Although civil liability covers what happens to others, it doesn’t cover you if your car is stolen, damaged or vandalized. Rates for this coverage vary based on your age, years of experience and driving history, as well as the value of your car and the deductible amount. Keep in mind that even if your car isn’t actually “your” car (e.g., leased from a garage or dealership), it still needs to be insured.

At Desjardins, our auto insurance for young people and students offers a ton of great options. And the Ajusto - This link will open in a new window. app even rewards you for being a good driver. By combining your auto and tenant insurance you could also save an extra 15%. In short, everything you need for peace of mind on the road.

Have questions or want to learn more about the benefits of good coverage? We’re here to assist you!

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