The Best Car Insurance Companies in Canada

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by Will Koblensky February 21, 2019 / No Comments

Regardless of your driving history, premium prices can vary widely between companies. Even those insurers with the best customer service in the country sometimes offer completely different rates to the exact same driver. Some companies may put more weight on certain factors related to your driving record while others may charge more due to their bottom line.

The Co-operators Group is the highest rated auto insurer for customer service in Alberta and the Atlantic provinces, while The Personal Insurance got the best rating in Ontario and Quebec, according to J.D. Power’s 2018 Canadian Auto Insurance Satisfaction Survey.

But does better customer service always mean a higher premium? And in the cases where it does, how much does customer service actually improve the more you pay?

We decided to compare the top-rated insurers for customer service against auto insurers who were rated slightly lower for customer satisfaction to see if customer satisfaction is worth the premium. In every region J.D. Power studied except for Ontario, the second or third-placed company offered a significant discount on premiums compared with the highest rated insurer.

NOTE: British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were excluded from the J.D. Power survey, because of their public auto insurance programs.

How we compared auto insurance costs to customer service

Ratehub.ca measured the difference in premiums between the top three highest-rated insurers in each of the four regions using a control, named Brenda Fenda.

Brenda is 30-years-old with a perfect driving record. She owns a 2018 Honda Civic LX and rents an apartment in a residential area close to the downtown core of a major city in each province tested. Ms. Fenda is single and drives 12,000 km per year for her short commute and nearby sales calls.

Brenda values customer service but doesn’t want to her premiums to go up significantly. Let’s take a look and see the correlation between price and customer service.

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The Best Car Insurance Company in Alberta

Alberta
Auto Insurer Customer Satisfaction Rating (out of 1000) Brenda’s quote
The Co-operators 787 $306
Alberta Motor Association 761 $162
Wawanesa 759 $163

 

If Brenda is in Alberta, she’d be charged $144 more per month by The Co-operators than she would by the Alberta Motor Association, who just so happens to be the second-highest rated auto insurer for customer satisfaction in Canada’s oil capital.

The discrepancy here may be accentuated by the Alberta Motor Association offering more discounts up front, giving her a lower auto insurance quote.

Furthermore, some drivers may feel that better customer service is worth a higher premium.

But in the Albertan Brenda case, she wouldn’t have to lower her standard of customer service a great deal to save on her premiums. In fact, lowering it too much might cost her more.  

The Best Car Insurance Company in the Maritimes

Atlantic
Auto Insurer Customer Satisfaction Rating (out of 1000) Brenda’s quote
The Co-operators 823 $204
Intact 804 $154
TD 801 $90

 

If Brenda lived in Atlantic Canada she’d find the difference between the top three customer satisfaction ratings in J.D. Power’s survey is quite small.

Second-place Intact Insurance offers a monthly premium that’s $50 cheaper than highest-rated The Co-operators.

TD Insurance only has a slightly lower customer service rating than Intact in Atlantic Canada and offers the cheapest coverage among any of the insurers on this list, at $90 per month.

The Best Car Insurance Companies in Ontario

Ontario
Auto Insurer Customer Satisfaction Rating (out of 1000) Brenda’s quote
The Personal 790 $169
The Co-operators 789 $257
Intact 788 $260

 

Perhaps the oddest comparison is looking at Brenda’s Ontario car insurance quotes, where the country’s best customer service performers, The Personal and The Co-operators, square off.

Ontario is the only province where insurers with worse customer satisfaction charged significantly more than the highest rated company.

Top rated The Personal offers Brenda a premium that’s $88 cheaper per month than The Co-operators, who are only one point below in customer satisfaction.

In turn, Intact Insurance is only one point below The Co-operators in customer satisfaction and offers the middle premium of the three.

The Best Car Insurance Companies in Quebec

Quebec
Auto Insurer Customer Satisfaction Rating (out of 1000) Brenda’s quote
The Personal 826 $144
Industrial Alliance 813 $154
La Capitale 812 $107

 

Brenda would have good reason to compare auto insurers in Quebec, where all three insurers are closely ranked for customer satisfaction, but top-ranked The Personal actually charges $10 less per month than second-place Industrial Alliance.

Third-placed La Capitale offers Brenda an even more competitive rate of $107 per month, while only sacrificing one point in customer satisfaction to Industrial Alliance.

The Final Cost of Customer Service and Car Insurance

So what are you actually getting when you pay for higher customer service?

The 8,958 auto insurance policyholders who J.D. Power surveyed said insurers who resolve issues with the fewest points of contact were better at customer service. Additionally, keeping policyholders up to date changes to their premium pricing, whether it goes up or down, was a major factor in how policyholders rated their company.

Overall, Canadians told J.D. Power they were less happy with auto insurers than in previous years.

The study’s authors chalk that up to increased competition from start-ups showing consumers how much policyholders are missing out on in terms of convenience.

Surveyed drivers said digital communication channels improved customer service, making claims more convenient and at least half said they preferred interacting with an insurer online.

What to take away

If drivers can learn anything from this comparison, it’s that the most expensive insurance isn’t always the best. Customer service is important but determining how much you’re willing to pay for that service is part of the equation.

To get the best value for what insurers are charging, you should compare car insurance quotes with insurers’ customer satisfaction ratings to help you navigate the best offer.

PHOTO BY: Sarah Pflug 

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