How Much Time (and Money) Are You Spending Commuting to Work?

If your commute involves driving, the distance you travel can have an impact on how much your car insurance premium is.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a shift in many Canadians’ commuting routines, with one recent survey revealing more Canadians (28%) will continue to work from home after government lockdown measures ease. A separate survey finds that although only 19% of Canadians say their driving habits have remained the same, about 40% say they expect to return to more normal driving habits in September. Both surveys reveal use of public transit will decline, raising the likelihood that more Canadians will drive to work than take transit.

So, if you’re commuting to your workplace, how much time are you spending on the road and at what cost?

Statistics Canada data from 2016 says 12.5 million Canadians commute to work by car, averaging about 24 minutes behind the wheel to travel 8.7 kilometres, while 1.5 million people spend an hour or more driving to work one way.

In general, the longer the distance you drive to work, the higher the cost of your auto insurance premium. That led us to wonder how much people pay for car insurance in Ontario and Alberta, whether their average commute is more than 16 kilometres per day or less than 16 kilometres per day. Here’s what we found:

Province Cost of Insurance Premium for Commutes Less Than 16 km Per Day Cost of Insurance Premium for Commutes More Than 16 km Per Day
Alberta $1,871 $1,954
Ontario $3,129 $3,501

Source: Kanetix.ca’s free online auto insurance quoting tool from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019.

Besides the number of kilometres you drive annually, the other factors insurers look at to calculate your policy premium includes the type of vehicle you drive, your driving record, where you live, your claims history and your age, gender, and marital status.

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How to Save Funds on Auto Insurance if You Are Driving to Work

If you drive to work, there are things you can look into to help reduce the cost of your auto policy. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Bundle your auto and home policies. Many insurers will provide you with a discount on your combined premiums if you purchase both your home or condo insurance and car insurance policies from the same provider.
  • Sign up to a usage-based insurance (UBI) program. Some insurers offer customers the option to enrol in either pay-as-you-go or pay-as-you-drive insurance programs. The gist of these UBI programs is either to only charge drivers for the number of kilometres they drive or reward drivers with a discount on their premiums for demonstrating safe driving habits.
  • Up your deductibles. If you can afford it, raise your deductibles from $500 to $1,000. Doing so will help lower your overall premium but be aware if you need to file a claim, you may have to shell out the amount of your deductible before your insurer pays for your claim.
  • Choose your coverages wisely. Is your vehicle an old beater that’s beyond its best-before date? If so, you might want to think about dropping the optional collision and comprehensive coverage you have on it. If your vehicle is more than 10 years old, talk to your broker about whether it’s worthwhile or not to keep these coverages for it.
  • Be a savvy consumer. Whenever you make a purchasing decision for any product or service, chances are you take the time to investigate what your options are based on what it is you need and what it costs. Apply the same rationale for shopping for auto insurance policies. It doesn’t take long to do so and comparing policies and premiums may help you find the coverage you need at a lower price than you’re paying now.

Hate Commuting? Here’s How to Have A Better Commuting Experience

Commuting daily definitely takes a physical and mental toll on us, whether we drive or take public transit. But commuting time can also be quality “me” time. There are things you can do to make your commute less stressful and possibly – dare we say it – more pleasant. Try adding one of these suggestions to your commuting routine:

If You Drive

  • Take a different route to work. Mixing things up a little and cruising through different neighbourhoods or down scenic roads you usually don’t can help keep things interesting. Just be sure to keep your hands on the wheel and stay focused on driving defensively.
  • Leave home earlier than usual. Leaving home a few minutes earlier than you usually do can provide you with a bit of breathing space and allow you to drive slower and not have to rush. Plan it right, and you can make a pitstop en route to get out of your car, stretch your legs, and grab a hot beverage to perk you up.
  • Find a radio program to enjoy. Nevertheless, finding a morning music show or talk show that interests you can make a difference. Better yet, download a podcast onto your mobile device and listen to it by connecting your device to the vehicle’s infotainment system before you start driving.

If You Take Public Transit

  • Rediscover (or discover) the joy of reading. Whether paper-based or digital, reading a book, magazine, or newspaper can get your energy up, creative juices flowing, and allow you to get lost in a world of adventure. If reading is too much trouble, download an audiobook and listen to a professional narrator tell you a tale. Not into either? Try doing puzzles or crosswords.
  • Get into podcasts. One of the great things about many mobile phones is you have the option of downloading podcasts to listen to while on the bus or train can make the time fly by.
  • Get ahead of your workflow. Commuting can provide you with time to be productive. If you’re an office worker who uses a laptop, flip it open and complete a few tasks or prepare for the day ahead. If you don’t have a work laptop to use, plotting your day ahead using a pen and paper notebook still works remarkably well.

If you have been driving less these past few months but think you’re going to be hitting the road more often come the fall, make sure your auto coverage is up-to-date. Try doing a quick quote to find out if there are more affordable options available to you if you’re thinking of switching insurers.

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