Ontario Automobile Insurance 101: To Shop or not to Shop?

By Debbie Arnold of Sound Insurance - April 21, 2017.

Despite assurances that Ontario automobile premiums will reduce, you’re receiving your auto renewal with an increase or it’s basically the same as last year. There are a variety of reasons for this but that will be the subject of another article.

The question is, should you shop your renewal? The answer? It depends. Let’s do a quick survey:

  • Have you had a chargeable or at fault accident in the last 10 years? And yes, weather related collisions whether single vehicle or not are chargeable because you can’t sue the road.
  • Take a look at the rating information on your renewal. Does it show no tickets? But you did receive a minor ticket in the last 3 years

If you’ve answered “yes” to the above then don’t shop your renewal.

  • Forgiveness for chargeable accidents is available only with the insurer you were with when you had the accident.
  • Any new insurer will pull your record and charge for any convictions in the last 3 years. Not all insurers pull driving records on every renewal. It’s too costly. So if you shop around and a new insurer is charging for a ticket that your current carrier doesn’t know about, then it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Hint: Don’t get tickets! It’s the quickest way to increase your premium and/or get you kicked out of a regular market. Drive safely and obey the rules of the road!

If you’ve answered “no” to the above then you should shop your renewal and here are some tips to get the best pricing and coverag

  • Combine auto with property insurance! Multi policy discounts can be substantial. Anywhere from 10 – 20%. If you are renting, you need tenants insurance. Oftentimes the combined rate is less than the auto by itself
  • Be accurate with your annual mileage. If you only drive 6000km per year don’t say 10,000km. It can affect your rate
  • Be honest about tickets and accidents. Even minor convictions will affect your premium. Tickets remain on record for 3 years and go by the conviction date, not the offense date
  • Make sure all drivers in the household are accounted for. If you have children that are away at university or college, they should still be listed on your policy but will receive a reduced rate
  • Most companies will now give family type discounts for multi lines and multi vehicles. Quote all vehicles with the same insurer wherever possible. Even if you want separate policies, take advantage of multi-vehicle discounts!
  • Read the information about the change to Accident Benefit coverage as of June 2016. All policies as of June this year will be subject to the new coverage. Have a conversation with your broker or agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage!
  • Take advantage of Group Programs you may have access to. APA Members are eligible for discounts through Sound Insurance (contact information below)

Coverage Tips:

  • You need at least $2,000,000 liability coverage in Ontario. Lawsuits are being presented at $1,500,000 and they abound!
  • Increase the Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care coverage to the maximum benefit. It isn’t expensive and well worth having the extra coverage if you’re injured in a collision
  • If you live alone, request Caregiver, Housekeeping and Home Maintenance coverage for all injuries. If you don’t, that coverage is only available for a catastrophic injury so if you break a leg in a collision, good luck shovelling the driveway?
  • Increasing your deductible to $1000 for collision, comprehensive or all perils does not save you large amounts of premium. Weight of premium is on liability and accident benefits. Physical damage coverage for your vehicle is relatively inexpensive so there’s not a lot of room for savings by bumping the deductible up

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