The only way to really know if you are paying a reasonable rate is to comparison shop. You can find numerous insurance quotes online, including through www.kanetix.com and may get a discounted rate if you obtain a quote online and/or purchase online. The Consumer’s Guide to Insurance also provides rates from over 30 auto insurance companies onwww.insurancehotline.com.
Insurance companies may rate policies differently, so be sure to compare more than the price. Be sure to read the policy terms carefully (including exclusions and limits) when signing up or renewing, so there are no surprises later if you have an accident.
Find out What Discounts are Available
There are several other discounts that may apply to you, including if you have multiple vehicles or a home insurance policy too. Insurance firms offer lower rates to drivers with a good driving record, so keep safe driving and keep obedience with the rules in mind when using your vehicle. Many firms have driver education discounts, “good student” discounts based on student grades, retiree discounts and renewal discounts. You may also get a discount for installing a car alarm or purchasing winter tires. Some companies also offer group plan discounts based on being alumni from a university or college or by being a member of a professional organization.
Learn what you can about the reputation of an insurance company you are considering. Read the reviews and ratings, and check with the Insurance Bureau of Canada about any complaints. Once you select a company, be aware that changing insurance firms often may not pay in the long run. Insurance rates may rise and fall annually, and you may find that if you start with a lower rate one year the next year may be much higher. If you stay with a company for several years, you may also become eligible for a “long-term” discount. Additionally, you may be eligible for “accident forgiveness” as a long-term customer, where your premiums won’t rise if you get into a first accident.
Raise Your Deductibles & Buy Only the Coverage You Need
A traditional way of reducing costs is by lowering your liability coverage and raising your deductible, which is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket when making a claim. Many people will pay the entire costs themselves instead of putting a claim through the insurance if the damage incurred isn’t much more than the deductible amount. You need to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your needs, however. If you get into an accident and cannot afford the deductible or you are sued for an amount beyond your coverage, you really aren’t further ahead financially than if you kept more coverage from the outset. You don’t want to be overinsured while you have no collision or underinsured if you have an at-fault accident.
Keep Your Insurance Policy Updated
Many variables affect your insurance rates, which is why it is important to notify your insurance company if your personal or business situation changes. You’ll want a policy that adequately reflects your needs. For example, if you begin driving your vehicle for business, the length of your commute to work has changed, you move, get married or divorced, retire or sell your vehicle, you need to report these changes to the insurance company, so that you can ensure that you are properly covered. It’s important to update your information when changes occur because it could cost you significantly if you are denied a claim from an accident where you failed to update your insurance. Further, it is considered a material misrepresentation if you omit information that affects the rate, such as having a young driver in your household, you moved to a denser area or if you changed your job or residence and have a longer commute as a result.
If someone living with you cancels a car insurance policy, make sure to tell the old company who’s supplying the new coverage. Otherwise, that member may be added to your insurance without your knowledge or consent. At the same time, think carefully before removing a driver from your policy unless you can be certain that he or she will never drive your vehicle. You will have no coverage and will be responsible for paying your own repairs and liability to others if the excluded driver gets into an accident.
Review Your Policy at Renewal
It is highly recommended that you review your insurance policy at renewal. You should check to ensure that past discounts still apply, as some discounts need to be certified each year (e.g., good student discounts) and sometimes a discount can erroneously be removed by means of computer error. At renewal time, you should also inquire if any further discounts apply.
Make Sure Payments Go Through
If you pay by automatic withdrawal from your bank account or cheque, make sure you have sufficient funds to cover the payments. If you pay by credit card and your card expires or is compromised, notify the insurance immediately and make payment with the available options. Your insurance policy may be cancelled for nonpayment of premiums, especially if the policy is new. If you have to buy new insurance, you could end up paying higher rates because you are rated higher risk.
Although still in its planning phase in Canada, telematics will soon be available to consumers. Telematics is satellite navigation technology that tracks how the vehicle is being driven. A GPS device must be installed in the car and discounts are available if the motorist drives safely or has vehicle inactivity. Since January 2015, Insure My Ltd has offered commercial drivers and fleet managers in Ontario and Alberta a Time-Based Insurance (TBI) policy. TBI gives operators a premium refund based on use of the vehicle. TBI is ideal for seasonal and fleet vehicles, making the hassle of removing and reinstating insurance coverage unnecessary.
Keeping Your Car Insurance Rate Down
Car insurance is a bill that everyone would like to see reduced. Fortunately, the insurance industry is competitive, and there are several ways to get good car insurance rates. Being aware of these tips and how to implement them can help you get ahead with saving money. At Harris and Partners, we look out for your financial interests. We offer credit counselling and debt solutions in Toronto and have eight other office locations. We can provide debt help in Toronto, Markham, Barrie, Brantford, Hamilton, Oshawa, Pickering, St. Catharines, Brampton, and North York. Call us for more information at 1-800-268-8093 or 905-479-5712.