Eight Factors that Shape Your Alberta Car Insurance Premium

The lowdown on what affects your auto insurance rate in Alberta

Now, more than ever, Alberta drivers are looking to find ways to save money on their auto insurance. It’s a good time to see if you can trim down what you pay. The first step in doing this, however, is knowing what factors go into your Alberta auto insurance rate. And while it’s true there are some factors you can’t control, there are other factors you can, which can go a long way in helping you pay less for your coverage.

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1. Your age, gender, and sometimes even your marital status

It’s no auto insurance myth: Young, male drivers under the age of 25 pay higher premiums than their female counterparts. This generally levels out, however, once the age of 25 is reached. As for marital status, it may affect your premium too (although it’s not a good reason to get hitched). Marital status may come into play for young newlyweds under the age of 25. The rationale is if you’re married, you’re going to be a more responsible driver.

2. Your driving and insurance history

Your driving and insurance history are significant factors in the premium you pay. The number of years you've been licensed to drive, the number of convictions (i.e. tickets) you’ve had in the last three years, as well as any at-fault accidents (usually up to the previous six years, but, sometimes even longer), will all factor heavily into your rate.

3. Your automobile

Some vehicles cost more to insure than others. If a vehicle is found to have a higher frequency of insurance claims, say it’s a frequent target for thieves, it will cost more to insure. The same is true if that vehicle’s claims costs run higher on average than other cars. For example, many of today’s newer cars have a lot of technology built into them, which means even a minor collision can produce thousands of dollars in damages.

4. Where you live

There are many ways that where you live could affect your premium. First, there’s the distance travelled to get to and from work or school each day. The reality is the more time you spend on the road driving the higher your chance of being in a collision. There’s also your neighbourhood’s collision and theft rates. Some places have intersections more prone to accidents, while others have higher levels of auto theft. Both factors could lead to higher rates.

5. The other drivers listed on your policy

Is your spouse’s driving record spotty? Do you have a teenage driver living at home? You may be the primary driver of your vehicle, but the driving record and insurance history of the people you live with (or who you regularly lend your car to) can affect the premium you pay. And while there’s likely not much you can say to your spouse about their driving record, you can enrol your teen driver into a driver’s training course. It’s well worth the investment because the cost of the course is often offset by the insurance savings to be had.

6. The coverage options you choose

Every province requires its residents to carry a set minimum of auto insurance coverage. In Alberta, you’re required to have at least $200,000 in third-party liability, although the vast majority of drivers carry considerably more. You’re also required to have accident benefits coverage. These are benefits you likely don’t want to scrimp on.

There are, however, optional coverages that you can pick and choose to have or not. For many drivers, these optional coverages (like collision and comprehensive) are needed and well worth the money. It is especially true if you drive a new vehicle. However, if your car is getting up there in age, you may want to discuss the necessity of them with your insurer. If you choose to keep your coverage, take a look at the deductibles you’ve chosen. In general, if yours are set to $500, you could save about 5% if you increase them to $1,000.

7. Discounts you’re eligible to receive

Everyone loves a good auto insurance discount, but there may be discounts you’re eligible to receive that your insurer didn’t know to offer you. Did you invest in a pair of snow tires this past winter? Have you recently signed up for a roadside assistance program? Ask your insurer about their discounts to see what’s available.

8. Regularly checking in on the Alberta car insurance premium you pay

Your willingness to shop around for the best price also factors into the rate you pay. If you just let it ride, year after year, you’re likely not getting the best price for your coverage. According to the Alberta’s Automobile Insurance Rate Board, there are “46 different insurance companies offering coverage for private passenger vehicles in Alberta”, and shopping around is one of the most effective ways to reduce your premium.

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