Disclaimer: Although I am a professional Insurance agent, every insurance company and provincial regulation is different, so to get proper advise you should speak directly with your broker or agent.
I am hopeful this post will give some clarification for new drivers (or even experienced drivers that just pay that bill every year and don't think much of it) It's an odd feeling paying for an invisible protection so I'm hopeful I can give people some peace of mind.
The Coverage (What are we paying for)
Automobile Insurance coverage's are divided into 2 different sections.
1. Mandatory Coverage's- Third Party Liability;
2. Optional Coverage's- Loss or Damage to your vehicle and other optional endorsements;
Third Party Liability
This coverage has multiple subsections including Liability, Accident Benefits, Uninsured Motorist, Direct Compensation Property Damage (In some provinces), and lastly Family protection.
Liability coverage: Simplest way to put it is that this will protect you if you cause an accident or damage to someone else's property or (heaven forbid) the other person. If you are held responsible for damage and expected to pay to repair/ compensate the other person your liability insurance will react and pay on your behalf (up to the stated amount).
Accident Benefits: This provides you with access to medical funds if you're injured in an accident (regardless if you caused the accident or not).
Uninsured Motorist: This coverage extends your accident benefit coverage to situations where the other motorist can't be identified or was uninsured at the time of the accident.
Direct Compensation Property Damage: A coverage in place in some provinces that ensures that you'll only ever deal with your own insurance company- regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage was put in place to avoid those lengthy (and costly) investigations before people would be compensated. To summarize: Someone hits you (so it's not your fault)- You call your insurance company- you arrange a repair with them- The vehicle is repaired and you go on with your life.
As opposed to what it used to be like (and still is in some places) Someone hits you- you call your insurance company- you wait for the other person to call their insurance company- you then wait for the insurance companies do an investigation to determine who is to blame (this still happens to an extent on DCPD but not to the inconvenience to the client)- Fault is determined (eventually)- Repairs are arranged and paid for by the other insurer.
Finally, Family Protection: This coverage will protect yourself and your family against motorists that are under insured or not insured at all. The sad thing is that minimum provincial requirements are simply not enough sometimes so this coverage will fill those voids if need be.
Loss or Damage to your own Automobile
This coverage also has subsections: All Perils, Collision, Comprehensive and Specified Perils.
I will start with the most common coverage's: Collision and Comprehensive
Collision: If you cause an accident (even a single vehicle accident like backing into a pole) and your vehicle is damaged- the collision coverage will repair your vehicle (subject to a deductible)