I just bought my first car. What do I need to know about car insurance?

Let's take a look at some tips for getting and understanding your auto insurance when you are a first time car owner in Canada.

It's not an option. Auto insurance is the law.

Regardless of where you may be driving in Canada, if you plan to drive a vehicle on public roads the vehicle must be covered under an insurance policy with certain minimum compulsory coverages. It is the law in all provinces and territories.

Insurance for new drivers will likely be expensive.

Unfortunately true. It's kind of like going to the bank to get a loan for the first time. They want to know your history before offering you the best rate. Insurance is similar. In order to get the best premium, you have to build a history showing you're not a high-risk driver. Typically, people start off by being listed as an occasional driver first to start accumulating those valuable years of experience.

Your driving record will affect your insurance premium.

Your driving record is based on the number of years you've been licensed to drive and your number of convictions or at-fault accidents. If your driving record is blemish-free, your premium will be lower than if you've had a conviction or accident.

The type of car you drive will affect your car insurance premium.

Like individual drivers, vehicles are rated differently even among their own class (e.g. SUV, sedan, or pick-up). Insurance works this way because theft rates, injury rates, the history for collision and comprehensive claims, and vehicle values vary significantly.

What are the basic components to a Canadian auto insurance policy?

  • Collision coverage:
    This optional coverage covers damage to your vehicle as a result of an impact with another vehicle or object.
  • Comprehensive coverage:
    Also optional, this insures your car against damage caused by events like theft, vandalism, flying and falling objects.
  • Accident Benefits:
    This pays for medical and rehabilitation treatments, funeral expenses, and loss of income due to disability and death that resulted from injuries or death sustained in an accident.
  • Third-party liability:
    This covers you if you are held legally liable when your vehicle injures someone or damages their property. Third-party liability coverage is compulsory in all provinces and territories in Canada, although in some parts of the country, this is referred to as "Section A." and in Quebec it is referred to as Civil Liability.
  • Direct Compensation - Property Damage:
    In Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, Direct Compensation - Property Damage coverage provides for damage to your car and any of your property inside the car, because of an automobile accident where you are not-at-fault or partially not-at-fault.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured or Unidentified Motorists' coverage:
    This coverage provides payment (the amounts vary among the provinces) if you are injured or killed through the fault of an uninsured/underinsured driver, or by an unidentified vehicle like in a hit-and-run.
  • Deductible:
    This is the amount you pay towards the cost of car repairs when you have an accident where you are at least partially at-fault, or you have submitted a comprehensive coverage claim. Keep in mind that the lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be.

Most insurance companies offer discounts.

The more common discounts include the:
  • Age discount
    A discount on your insurance as you pass certain age milestones. If available, the qualifying age differs from provider to provider
  • Multi-vehicle discount
    Available if you insure multiple vehicles with the same insurer
  • Multi-line discount
    Available if you insure your home and auto with the same insurer
  • Anti-theft discount
    Available if your vehicle has certain anti-theft devices installed
  • Low mileage discount
    A discount on your insurance if your vehicle is not driven often
  • Occupational discount
    Available if you work in a certain field or hold a certain degree
  • Auto club discount
    Available if you are a member of an auto club, like CAA
While the availability of discounts will vary depending on your insurer, where you live and whether you meet the eligibility requirements, asking about them could save you money.

Insurance rates vary significantly between companies.

There is a wide range of car insurance premium prices available for essentially the same coverage. Drivers who don't shop around may really be doing a disservice to themselves and ultimately paying a lot more than they have to for their auto insurance; only shopping around can ensure you are getting the lowest premium available.

Shop around for your auto insurance.

As a driver that has never bought auto insurance before, you may be unsure of where to start. But you now know, that as a first time insurance buyer your coverage may be expensive and that rates vary significantly between companies. It all adds up to shopping around which could save you hundreds of dollars. A great place to start is online here at Kanetix.ca. Here you can compare auto insurance quotes from competing insurers.

Kanetix® is an online insurance shopping service and, more specifically is not an insurance company or brokerage. This response is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but keep in mind that each person's situation is unique. In addition, this information is subject to change and Kanetix is not responsible for any damages caused as a result of the information included in this response. As such, always check with an insurance provider, or the proper authority, for terms and conditions that may apply to you specifically as the information may vary depending on your insurer, geographic location, and particular individual circumstances.

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