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Frequently Asked Questions About Car Insurance Ontario
Managing your deductible limits is a great way to control policy costs. A deductible is the amount you pay after an incident before the insurance company contributes. These apply to collision and comprehensive coverage additions to your policy.
Since you’re adopting more responsibility when you select a higher deductible, your insurer responds with a lower rate, because they are risking less on your particular policy. Of course, if a high deductible puts you in financial hardship, choosing a lower amount protects your bank account from a sudden hit after an accident. You’ll pay more per month for that protection. You don’t need to carry the same deductible for both collision and comprehensive coverage. You might opt for a higher deductible for collision coverage and a lower amount for comprehensive, which protects against vandalism, fire and theft.
Once you’ve decided on a car insurance company, working with an agent or broker can pinpoint exactly what each option will cost. Since every insurer has not only their own rates but their own procedures for calculating, precise savings are impossible to pinpoint before you’ve chosen an insurance company and the amount by which you wish to increase your deductible.
Third party liability is insurance that a driver carries to protect themselves against lawsuits from accidents for which they are at fault. Auto insurance in Ontario retains the right for accident victims to sue for loss and injury. In the case of a lawsuit, third party liability coverage pays settlement amounts up to the limits of the at fault motorist’s coverage.
Ontario drivers by law must have at least $200,000 in third party liability coverage. While this seems like a lot, serious accidents often settle for $300,000, $500,000 or greater. A driver carrying only the minimum coverage remains responsible for the amount awarded in excess of insurance coverage.
It’s for this reason that $1 million in coverage has become a de facto standard, and many drivers opt for $2 million. Agents and brokers generally recommend this level of coverage as well, since the additional premiums amount to far less than what a driver would need to cover in a worst case accident settlement situation.
A new, similar situation emerged in 2016 with statutory accident benefits coverage. In an effort to reduce soaring car insurance costs, the Ontario government reformulated how accident benefits coverage is paid out. This is part of Ontario’s no fault auto insurance provisions, where a driver’s own insurance company pays for health care and rehabilitation costs regardless of which driver is at fault. Some combinations of benefits now have a cap of half the amount previously paid. Additional accident benefits coverage is available, much like additional third party liability.
Of the two major optional auto insurance endorsements, comprehensive is the less understood. Collision coverage is self-explanatory. Any accident or other incident occurring while a car is on the road usually falls under terms of collision coverage. Comprehensive insurance covers many other, non-collision sources of loss or damage.
These include major and common incidents such as theft, vandalism and fire. These cases typically don’t involve another driver and insurance company. Therefore, there is rarely a source of liability coverage for the damage or loss experienced.
Beyond that, comprehensive coverage protects against storms, lightning, hail, high winds and rising water. It even gets into more obscure hazards, such as earthquakes, explosions, falling aircraft and damage caused due to damage of another vehicle, such as a train, ferry or car transport on which the insured vehicle is transported.
All perils coverage is a special endorsement that combines collision and comprehensive coverage in a single endorsement with a few additional protections against damages caused by certain third parties.
Comprehensive, collision and all perils coverage all carry deductible provisions on most policies.
In Ontario, certain levels of insurance coverage are required for all vehicles on the road. This standard, or statutory, policy includes four main insurance elements. No insurance provider can issue a policy with less coverage than these standard levels.
Third party liability insurance in the amount of $200,000 protects a motorist against legal action following an at fault accident. Most industry advisors feel that this level of coverage is inadequate, as settlements for serious accidents often exceed this amount, leaving a motorist financially exposed to large settlements.
Accident benefits pay out from a driver’s own insurance company, regardless of which driver is originally at fault. These amounts pay for health and attendant care in excess of provincial health plan benefits, for those injured in an accident. Recent changes to the Insurance Act reduced the amount insurance companies cover under the statutory policy, so additional insurance to top up accident benefits is now available.
Direct compensation – property damage pays benefits directly between a motorist and their insurance company in the event of an accident for which the other driver is at fault, and when certain other conditions are met. These benefits pay for repair and loss to the motorist’s vehicle or its contents, including amounts for loss of use of your vehicle.
Uninsured automobile coverage protects in cases where the other vehicle in a collision is either uninsured or unidentified, such as with a hit and run accident.
This is a question with two answers. First of all, your insurance company can cancel your policy or refuse to renew it if you become a high risk driver while you’re covered with them. They can’t do this without a reason and they’re required to inform you in writing in advance, stating why they are denying coverage. Every insurance company presents rules for coverage denial that are first approved by the Ontario government and then enforced upon that approval. An insurer won’t simply create reasons to deny a motorist. They can only apply the standards they’ve already proposed. Likewise, another company applies their predetermined standards as well, in refusing high risk drivers seeking new policies.
The second part of the answer is that, while individual companies can refuse a high risk driver, the insurance industry as a whole cannot refuse a driver, provided they are legally entitled to drive. When a driver can’t obtain an offer for coverage through the conventional auto insurance marketplace, they can turn to the Facility Association, an industry organization whose sole purpose is to act as an auto insurance provider of last resort. The Facility Association doesn’t underwrite policies itself, but rather facilitates between provider and high risk driver. While a driver is guaranteed an offer through the Association, these policies are typically extremely expensive, reflecting the driver’s high risk nature.
The standard auto insurance policy defined by the Ontario government is the minimum insurance coverage a personal vehicle must carry to use Ontario roads. Owners and drivers who knowingly operate uninsured vehicles or allow uninsured vehicles to be driven face fines up to $50,000.
Registering ownership and licensing a vehicle is tied up with insurance. A car cannot be registered without proof of insurance, and without registration, licence plates can’t be purchased.
The statutory requirement of the standard policy includes four insurance types. Third person liability insurance protects a driver against lawsuits from at fault accidents. A minimum of $200,000 protection is mandatory. Accident benefit coverage protects the driver and occupants of a vehicle for medical and rehabilitation costs beyond care provided by the provincial health plan. Direct compensation-property damage covers repair or loss to a driver’s vehicle in certain accidents when the other driver is at fault. Finally, uninsured vehicle coverage protects in situations when another vehicle is either uninsured or unidentified. The most common example may be after a hit and run collision.
Note that collision and comprehensive coverage, featured in the majority of car insurance policies, are not required by law as part of an auto insurance policy. The lending agency for a vehicle that’s financed may have requirements for these types of coverage.
No, there’s not. Despite heavy regulation by the Ontario government, the auto industry is based on a private company competitive model. Every motorist in Ontario may benefit from aggressive comparison shopping since each insurance company uses its own models to calculate insurance premiums. There can be hundreds of dollars in difference between the quotes from two companies.
Some insurance companies specialize in policies targeted to particular segments of car insurance consumers. For example, one company may provide safe driving and age-based discounts to attract mature and senior clients, while another may give aggressive discounts for successful driver training completion and high school honours students to attract new business. Each company would likely have higher rates for other demographics to offset the promotions given to target markets.
Every insurance company is free, within the terms of the Ontario Insurance Act, to set its own underwriting rules and policy rates. These must first be approved by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario before being offered on the market. Provided that the company plans fall within the Insurance Act rules, a company may work differently than every other insurer in the province.
Free quotes are a way for a company to share what it believes is its unique advantage with existing and new customers.
This is a question that each motorist needs to decide for themselves.
The Ontario standard auto insurance policy is enough to get a vehicle legally registered and on the road.
The standard policy provides for $200,000 in third party liability insurance. When a driver has a serious at fault collision, accident settlements may climb above this amount. Liability coverage of $1 million or $2 million is often advised by insurance industry advisors.
Accident benefit coverage was until recently a single level of coverage. As of June 16, basic coverage reduced benefits by half in some situations. Look for additional accident benefit coverage to become more common over the next few years.
Collision and comprehensive insurance are not required to put a vehicle on the road, yet most drivers consider these essential. If money was borrowed to purchase a vehicle, the lending agency may require collision and comprehensive coverage as a condition of financing.
When a driver decides to carry collision and comprehensive, each is subject to a deductible amount. This is the portion a driver pays before the insurance company contributes. Higher deductibles mean lower premiums, but also mean that the driver has a greater out of pocket burden after an accident. Low deductibles reduce this burden, but at the expense of higher monthly premiums.
Once a motorist decides on an insurance company, working with an agent or broker is the best way to balance the coverage/cost equation.
Each insurance company has its own particular formula for calculating what it charges for any given policy. Its procedures are presented to and approved by a government agency before being offered to consumers. After approval, these rules become the guidelines for that company’s policies, and they cannot vary their methods without first having changes approved.
Most insurers use the same factors to calculate risk, and therefore cost, even if they weigh each factor differently than their competitors. From a driver’s standpoint, the single most important factor over which they have control are their own driving habits. Those who follow safe driving practices and avoid traffic tickets and at fault accidents achieve the lowest rates. Age and gender also play a role. Generally, young drivers are more at risk and pay higher auto insurance rates as they establish driving and insurance histories. Young men are statistically a higher risk than young women, so there is a rate difference there.
The driver’s home location is anther influencing factor. A neighbourhood’s accident and claims history factors into its residents’ car insurance rates. For example, Brampton is the most expensive region in the province. Drivers living there can pay about $1,000 more than they would in other parts of the province, simply due to the location.
Finally, the vehicle itself and how it’s driven affect cost. A driver who uses a car to drive to work daily pays more than one who works from home or uses public transit. The distance driven, both daily and annually, also influence policy price. A car that drives more miles is at greater risk of incident than one driven occasionally over short distances. A four door sedan or SUV, typical family vehicles, are cheaper to insure than coupe or off-road versions of the same vehicles.
On top of that, options and discounts factor into insurance premiums. These vary greatly by both drivers’ needs and insurer availability.
The best way to save money is through comparison shopping, one reason why our car insurance calculator is such a big hit with consumers. With all the differences between insurance companies, getting quotes from the widest range of insurers is key to finding the lowest costs for your needs.
Once you’ve identified the company with which you wish to work, tuning your policy to best match your driving habits and lifestyle can appropriately price your policy.
Here are some key factors to discuss with your agent or broker:
- Is the amount you drive accurately reflected in your policy? If you’re listed as driving 25 km to work daily, and 30,000 km annually, yet you walk to work and drive 15,000 km a year, you may be overpaying.
- Are your deductible rates set at a level with which you can cope in case of an accident? While raising your deductible saves money on premiums, the greater cash outlay after an incident may be hard to reach, particularly if you are injured and miss work. Raising deductibles may be a false economy in some cases.
- Do you have extra coverage that doesn’t apply to your situation? Carrying non-owned vehicle coverage when you never rent other cars may not be worth the additional cost.
- Have you checked to see that all discounts and promotions for which you qualify are added to your policy? Insurers rarely add discounts without your explicit request. Talk with your agent or broker regularly to ensure any discounts are now applicable to your case.
The quickest, most effective way to compare estimates across the widest spectrum of auto insurance providers is right here, at the top of this page. Our car insurance calculator connects with dozens of industry partners, taking the information that you present and matching it with their insurance products. We return up to 10 of the lowest cost providers to you to pursue.
The process is easy. Start with your postal code. Through just a few more pages, you can relate both your driving and insurance history and your current auto insurance needs. The more complete and accurate the information you provide, the more complete and accurate your estimates will be. With your vehicle information and other current data at hand, the entire process takes less than 15 minutes. With potential savings in the hundreds of dollars, you have nothing to lose.
The service is free. You can run the quote process a number of times to compare scenarios. If you’re considering two cars, for example, you can see what each will cost to insure to aid your buying decision. The same is true if you want to check car insurance prices for a new neighbourhood. Simply enter the appropriate postal code and other information and you’ll know in a moment.
You’re also under no obligation to use any of the insurers providing quotes. This is an informational service intended to connect you with the best insurers for your needs. What you do with the quotes is up to you. You’ll have the most accurate and complete idea of what car insurance can cost, and you can use that knowledge to negotiate your best deal.
Get started right now by entering your postal code in the space at the top of the page. When you find a quote that’s hundreds of dollars less than what you pay now, you’ll be glad you did.
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