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How does road rage impact your car insruance?

Experiencing the frustration of road rage? Discover how it impacts your car insurance in Canada and the potential consequences for aggressive driving behaviours on your coverage. Get a free quote for car insurance with us today.

Other drivers make me angry. I hate the way people drive too slow, tailgate, cut me off, refuse to let me in, and commit the cardinal sin of missing advance left turn signals because they’re distracted by their phone.  When anger boils over into road rage, things can get dangerous. And when things get dangerous, insurance policies get complicated. Let’s take a look at how road rage impacts your car insurance in Canada.

Key takeaways on car insurance

  1. Events involving road rage may result in increased insurance costs for a number of reasons, including getting a ticket for violent driving. Road rage isn't explicitly marked as a checkbox on insurance forms, but people who are prone to it could wind up paying extra. 

  2. Insurance companies may use telematics devices that are used to track driving habits which could have an effect on discounts. Such devices monitor aggressive driving practices, such as speeding and tailgating. Driving aggressively on a regular basis might lower the discount obtained which has an indirect impact on insurance prices.  

  3. Road rage can be extremely dangerous and result in accidents. If you are held liable for an accident caused by road rage, your insurance costs may go up by as much as 10% to 30%. Furthermore, deliberate acts of road rage might not be covered by insurance, making the offender financially responsible for any losses or damages. 

Can road rage make car insurance more expensive? 

There’s no check box to indicate whether you’re susceptible to road rage when you compare car insurance quotes online. But drivers who are prone to road rage could end up paying a higher price for insurance.

Tickets can lead to high premiums

Road rage isn’t a crime, but some of the things you might do while driving angry are. A few of the tickets road rage can lead to include:

  • Speeding. Fines start out small – often less than $100 for minor infractions – but get big fast. In many provinces, exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more can result in license suspension, vehicle impoundment, fines of up to $10,000 and even jail time. 
  • Unnecessary slow driving. If you slow to a crawl to get revenge on the guy behind you, you can be fined for going too slow.
  • Unnecessary smoke or noise. Whether you rev your engine, blare your horn or “roll coal,” you can be fined for the nuisance you cause.
  • Fail to yield. If you refuse to let someone in, such as where two lanes merge, you can get a ticket for failing to yield.
  • Follow too closely. Tailgating is a time-honoured road rage behaviour that can lead to a ticket for following too closely.
  • Unsafe passing. No matter how angry you are at the slowpoke in front of you, you can get a ticket for passing across a solid yellow line, on the right, on the sidewalk, or otherwise breaking the rules of safe passing. 

If your rage intensifies to a point where you’re behaving dangerously, there are a few more serious charges the police can lay against you.

  • Careless driving. If you’re distracted by road rage to the point where you’re unable to drive safely, you can be charged with careless driving. Penalties include fines, demerit points, license suspension and imprisonment.
  • Stunt driving. You can be charged with stunt driving for intentionally tailgating, cutting someone off, or preventing another vehicle from passing. In addition to fines and demerit points, you can lose your driver’s license, have your vehicle impounded and be put in jail. 
  • Dangerous driving. In addition, the Criminal Code of Canada lays out severe penalties for anyone convicted of dangerous driving. If your road rage behaviour is dangerous to the public, and you’re convicted, you’ll get a criminal record, and the possibility of fines, probation, or jail.

    Depending on the severity of the charge, your road rage penalty will likely lead to higher insurance premiums. If you’re given a simple ticket with a few demerit points, it’s unlikely to lead to a significant hike in fees. But if you’re given multiple tickets or convicted of a more serious offence, your insurance company can raise your rates significantly or even choose to cancel your policy.

    Thankfully, Canadian courts have upheld your right to give the middle finger as a protected gesture under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Telematics could highlight your road rage incidents

Telematics are small devices installed in your car by your insurance company, ostensibly to reduce your insurance premiums as a reward for being a good driver. Intact, belairdirect and The Personal are a few insurance companies using them, under the brand names myDrive, automerit and Ajusto, respectively.

If you use such a device, it could be reporting your angry driving behaviours back to your insurance company. About the size of a cell phone, these devices track how fast you drive, how quickly you accelerate and brake, and how frequently you make dangerous manoeuvres. Occasional mishaps are forgiven, but a pattern of aggressive driving won’t be.

While your insurance company can’t raise your rates based on what your telematics device records, it can affect the discount you receive. The more you rage, the less of a discount you’ll be entitled to.

At-fault collisions will cost you big

When you’re angry, your focus narrows and you lose the ability to notice things going on around you. Road rage has been shown to be just as impairing to your driving ability as other distractions like texting – which in turn have been shown to increase the likelihood and severity of being in a crash.

If your road rage leads to an accident, you could see a big spike in the amount you pay for car insurance – especially if you’re found to be at fault for the crash. Depending on where you live, you can expect your insurance premium to rise by 10% to 30% after your first at-fault claim.

Also read: What to do after a car accident in Ontario

Does car insurance cover incidents of road rage?

Whether your car insurance will cover an incident of road rage depends on a few things. Specifically, it will depend on whether you’re the perpetrator or the victim, and whether the incident was intentional.

If something happens due to road rage, and it’s truly an accident, insurance will cover it.

Whether you crash your car in a fit of road rage, or you’re crashed into by an angry driver, you will be entitled to make a claim under your insurance policy. Regardless of which side you’re on, your insurance company may pay to repair or replace your vehicle, and take care of any medical or rehabilitation expenses.

If an incident is intentional, however, it will most likely be treated by your insurance company as a crime. 

Let’s consider an example in which an angry driver intentionally rams another vehicle. In this case, the raging driver wouldn’t be able to make an insurance claim because they crashed their car on purpose. Any expenses related to the incident would have to be paid out of pocket and the driver would be liable for the victim’s expenses.

The victim, however, would be able to make a car insurance claim. Rather than treating it as an accident, their car insurance company would most likely treat it as a comprehensive claim – the same as if the car had been vandalized while it was parked. 

The decision of whether an incident was intentional is between the police and the insurance companies involved. If you’re in an incident caused by road rage it’s important to have detailed witness statements and a proper police report to make sure your rights will be upheld.

The bottom line

While road rage doesn’t directly affect your insurance premiums, the consequences of it can. Traffic tickets and at-fault accidents can lead to higher insurance costs, as can aggressive driving behaviours detected by telematics devices. Keep your car insurance costs low by driving safely, and compare insurance quotes online to find the best deal on the coverage you need.

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