You open your mail and there is the infamous “120 day letter” from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). You have four months to get your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) corrected, before your license plate expires. Huh? Why is your VIN so important?

A VIN is a 17-character code assigned by the manufacturer when a vehicle is built – unique to, and mandatory for, every car built in the US and Canada since 1981. The insurance industry, law enforcement agencies and the government all use the VIN to verify the legitimacy of vehicles being driven. As for yourself, you should be getting the VIN verified before you buy a used car.

After reading the MTO letter, your next step is to determine which of your documents may contain an invalid VIN. Is it your…
1. Liability card (pink slip from your insurance company)?
2. VIN plate (located on your vehicle’s dashboard/doorjamb)?
3. Ownership (green card from MTO)?

You should contact your insurance broker if the liability card doesn’t match the VIN plate, and contact the MTO if the ownership doesn’t match the VIN plate. If neither of them match, contact both your broker and the MTO.

Following these procedures is important for several reasons:

  • In Ontario, an unmatched VIN by the Ministry of Transportation could mean a delay or even a denial in renewing your vehicle’s registration.
  • Your vehicle must be registered to the Named Insured in order to verify that the right car is being insured.
  • A matched/confirmed VIN assists the MTO in tracking vehicles that have been stolen and can help in the prevention of fraud. It is a criminal offense in Canada to alter, destroy or remove a VIN since Bill S-9 passed in November 2010.

Have you ever received the “120 day letter” from the Ministry of Transportation? Leave your comment here.

Algoma Insurance Brokers