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Your Ontario car insurance guide
Many Ontario drivers are quick to settle for the first auto insurance quote they get, unaware that Ontario has the highest rates in the country. Luckily, Ontario also has a very competitive auto insurance industry, which means it really can pay to shop around.
We know you're busy. We know it can take a long time to research and compare rates on your own. That's why Kanetix.ca makes it easy for you by compiling rates from top insurers. The result? You see the best rates available all in one place and you're always in the driver's seat.
How Ontario auto insurance works
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), a governing body that oversees the insurance industry, regulates all insurance rate increases and decreases in Ontario. All insurance companies have the opportunity to file requests to FSCO to increase or decrease their rates every quarter, which means average rates are changing as often as every three months.
That's why it's always important to compare rates, even if it's not yet time to renew your policy. While there's no obligation to change providers, it often pays to shop around. The savings acquired by switching providers can offset the cost of cancelling a policy prematurely
Changes to Ontario car insurance policies
In 2013, the Liberal government announced plans to reduce auto insurance rates in Ontario by an average of 15 per cent by August 2015. While insurance rates did decrease overall by an average of approximately seven per cent in this time frame, Ontario remains the most expensive province for auto insurance in the country.
To combat this, the Liberal government announced additional changes to auto insurance coverage in Ontario. However, this included changes to the minimum coverage provided in certain aspects of a standard auto insurance policy including a reduction in medical and rehabilitation benefits. Always read your insurance policy thoroughly to ensure you know exactly what you are-and are not-covered for.
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Ontario auto insurance law: coverage requirements
Ontario law requires drivers to be insured for multiple potential liabilities. Minimum mandatory coverage is typically automatically included in a comprehensive auto insurance policy, but many drivers opt for additional coverage to insure they're adequately covered in the event of a serious collision.
- Third party liability coverage: As an Ontario driver, you must insure your vehicle for at least $200,000 in Third Party Liability coverage. This covers injuries to any other person, or damages to their property, when you're the at-fault driver in a collision. However, if you are involved in a serious auto accident, $200,000 will not go very far. That's why it's common to have $1 million or more of liability coverage.
- Accidents benefits coverage: Accident Benefits coverage provides for you and your family if you are injured or killed in an automobile accident.
- Accident Benefits also may provide:
- Payments to non-earners who are not able to carry on a normal life
- Payment of care expenses to persons who can no longer act as a primary caregiver for a member of their household
- Payment of medical, rehabilitation and attendant care expenses
- Payment of funeral expenses
- Payments to survivors of a person who is killed
- Direct compensation - Property damage: This insurance provides coverage for damage to your car and any property inside the car as a result of an automobile accident in which you are not-at-fault.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: This last required piece of your Ontario auto insurance provides coverage for you if you are in an accident with an at-fault, uninsured driver who is identified at the scene of the accident.
- Motor vehicle liability insurance card: Known as your "pink card," your Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card provides proof that you have the required car insurance coverage in Ontario. While your auto insurance is valid anywhere in Canada and the United States, it is recommended you carry your "pink card" with you at all times. You must produce this proof if a police officer requests it. You'll also need to produce your "pink card" for the Ministry of Transportation when you first register your vehicle, and each year when you renew your licence plate sticker.
Ontario has a "no-fault" car insurance system, but this doesn't mean that no one is at-fault in an accident. "No-fault" insurance means if you are injured or your car is damaged in an accident, then you deal with your own insurance company, regardless of who is at-fault. You don't have to go after the at-fault driver for compensation.
Similarly, if passengers in your car are injured, then each passenger who has a car insurance policy of their own will approach their own insurance company for benefits. If your passengers don't have a car insurance policy of their own, then your insurance company may pay benefits to them. The driver of the other car involved in the accident will claim benefits from his or her own insurance company.
Someone is always "at-fault" in a car accident, whether partly or fully. The law requires insurance companies to assign the percentage of fault for each of the drivers involved in the accident. This is based on what's called "Fault Determination Rules." These rules, set out in a regulation under the Insurance Act, help insurance companies deal with accident claims quickly and economically. The Fault Determination Rules differ from any charges laid by the police under the Highway Traffic Act.
Now that you know all about how auto insurance works in Ontario, the following articles can help you learn how to save more money, navigate through the licensing system, and more.
Ways you can save more
Shopping around is the easiest way to save money on your Ontario auto insurance, but it's not the only way.
- Look at rates around you: With InsuraMap, you can use this simple tool to get a glimpse into areas with the highest insurance premiums around and you can also see how your rate compares to the average rate based on your postal code or region.
- Invest in your safety: Installing winter tires can help you save up to 5% on your premium. Insurers also offer a discount to drivers that are enrolled in a roadside assistance program.
- Raise your deductible: You can save five to 10 per cent on your car insurance rate by increasing your deductible.
- Bundle policies: Combining home and auto insurance policies can result in a discount from your insurer from five to 15 per cent. Having multiple vehicles on the same policy is also a great way to get savings as well.
- Sign up for a Usage-Based Insurance program: Your driving habits are monitored and assessed to determine if you have the driving habits that warrant an insurance premium discount. The potential savings is up to 25 per cent off your insurance premium.
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