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Auto Insurance

Home Insurance

Life Insurance

What is Insurance?

Insurance comes in many forms, but they all essentially boil down to the same thing. You make regular ongoing payments to protect you against any risks you may encounter in the world.

Your payments go to an underwriter, generally any financial institution - be it a bank, an insurance provider, or an investment house who guarantee a payout to you, or your beneficiary, in case of financial or personal loss. You pay the underwriters to accept the risk; they payout if a risk becomes a reality.

While safety may be the best insurance plan, there are some things beyond your control. Imagine if there is a burglary attempt on your home, a stolen laptop, you get sick while travelling, or you suddenly contract a terminal illness. For those instances, you'll want insurance policies in place to help you through the financial burden. There are also cases where insurance is mandatory - like with car insurance. If you're going to drive a car in Canada, you need auto insurance.

“Insurance is a funny product in that you pay for it, but never want to use it.”

Types of insurance

Auto insurance

Car insurance is mandatory across Canada. Each province and territory has its own regulating body with slight differences between them of what is compulsory and optional. The one big difference is whether it's public or private insurance. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec all have public insurance. Public means you go through the government to purchase your primary auto insurance and can (sometimes) supplement with private insurance for extra coverage and endorsements. In the rest of Canada, hundreds of private insurance providers battle for the lowest rates to earn the most customers in an open, free market.

Home Insurance

Home insurance - whether it's a house, condo, or you need renter's insurance is not mandatory. However, if you have a mortgage, most lenders want to know you have protection for your largest investment. It is not regulated provincially or federally. It's all private insurers vying for your business. It makes it vital to shop for home insurance quotes to ensure your structure and the contents within have protection from fire, water, and theft.

Life insurance

Life insurance generally comes in two forms - whole or term. Whole is where you make payments your entire life, and your beneficiaries receive payment upon your passing. Term is when you need life insurance for a time when a loss of life could leave your dependents in a dire financial situation. If you have a significant other, or children, life insurance is a fantastic tool to ensure finances are the last thing they need to worry about. Life insurance typically requires a medical exam and costs will increase the greater risk you are - so get it young and stay healthy.

There are a host of other insurances from travel to health. Any risk you can imagine, there's a company out there willing to accept the risk, for the right price.

How to buy insurance

There are many ways to buy insurance and each come with their own pros and cons. We break them down, so you can pick the one that matches your style best.

Buying insurance online

That's right. You can buy insurance online in Canada. And wouldn't you know it, we at offer it as a service! It's easy. From the comfort of your home, you can review insurance quotes from multiple suppliers within minutes, saving you time and money.

You'll need to answer some questions in an easy-to-use web form, review your coverage options, then look at your quotes. A simple click on a provider will connect you with a broker. The broker then calls you to review the quote and put the finishing touches on your policy. It's that simple.

The benefit to you is personally reviewing what providers offer you the best coverage for the lowest price. But, with insurance, it's not always about the best price. Some insurers may provide products that you need like extensive water protection if you're in a high-risk area. Others may give specific alumni or professional discounts, not available from a different insurance company.

Buying insurance from a broker

If you feel more comfortable starting the conversation with a broker, you can walk into their physical location or call them up on the phone. They have access to products from multiple providers and, based on your needs, will advise you on the insurance that matches your budget.

Buying from a broker is a double-edged sword. It's great because they do a lot of the work for you sifting through the policies to find the right one and can make recommendations based on your situation. The other side of the sword is that they are paid on commission - they may try to sell you a product loaded with bells and whistles to make more money. If you find a broker you can trust, review your policies every year and ensure you're getting the best value.

Buying direct insurance

Some insurance companies opt to sell their products directly to the consumer like RBC, BMO, or Manulife. There is a misconception that you can save money because you're cutting out the middleman. While it's possible they may give you a low rate, because you haven't shopped around, you don't know if you're getting the best value. A direct insurer knows its product intimately and obviously want to sell their product. Their products may not meet your needs. If you have a particular situation like owning an Airbnb or driving for Uber - do your research ahead of time and know the insurance companies who provide what you need.

Tips for buying insurance

Shop around

Insurance providers and brokerages offer different products and coverages to suit your budget, values, and lifestyle. Some companies have been around for years, but because you've never heard of them, it deters you from buying with them. It may seem daunting to call all the different providers, but buying insurance online will help you quickly narrow your field.

Buy what you need, not a sales pitch

If you buy on fear, you could end up paying too much for insurance. Yes, it happens. For instance, you could pay for an endorsement on your home insurance for earthquakes. But, if you live in Toronto, the chances of a massive earthquake destroying your home are almost nil.

Think about your basic requirements and go from there. You have a car; you need car insurance. But, getting collision or comprehensive coverage is optional if your vehicle is older and doesn't carry much value. You can always modify your coverage adding endorsements should you change your mind. For now, minimize the risk, maximize your savings and buy the insurance that suits your unique situation.

Ask what your insurance policy does not include (exclusions)

If you read the insurance fine print, you'll see some exclusions. Every insurance policy has gaps in coverage. If you're unsure, ask your provider what they are. Let's say you file a claim. Your insurance provider informs you of a lack of coverage for this incident. Now, you're frustrated and in a financial mess depending on the damage or loss. For instance, coverage for a burst pipe is available in most policies, but if a sewer backs up or melting snow ends up in your house, that's a different water risk.

Bundle and save

If you need both auto and tenant's insurance - getting them from the same provider could save you up to 25%. Of course, pick your provider first, ensure your risks are covered and then see if it's worth adding more products with the same insurer. If you have car insurance with one provider, and home insurance with another, and neither can offer you a bundled discount, it may not be worth the switch - even if it means less paperwork.

Perform an annual review

Did you renovate your home? Buy a new car? Life moves pretty fast, and your insurance will need to evolve with it. If you had a child, you might want to buy life insurance now that you have dependents. Your policies should adapt to new risks. If you get a renewal slip in the mail, you can quickly check online to ensure you're still getting the best rate. If your rates go up, and they can by no fault of your own, go back to shopping around or ask for a loyalty discount from your provider.

Manage your payments

If you miss a payment, you could be seen as a higher risk resulting in higher premiums. If you can afford it, there may be a discount for paying your premiums annually instead of monthly. If you want to change companies, the best time to do it is when you're up for renewal. Mid policy cancellations could result in penalties and fees (but sometimes the savings is worth it).

Minimize risk

Safety first, right? If you can mitigate risk, do so. If you own a home, seasonal maintenance will reduce the chances of a threat becoming a reality. Regular maintenance can prevent small problems from becoming major ones. With cars, practice safe and defensive driving and get winter tires to help reduce sliding in winter. Proper planning and the right protection can help you stay ahead of risk in your day-to-day operations.

Honesty is the best policy

Regardless of the insurance, you're buying, be prepared with the right information. There's the easy stuff like your name, address, and phone number. There are some questions which may seem intrusive. But, understand you're entering an agreement with them to protect your most valued items like your car, home, and even your life. You want to be honest, and upfront, so you get the coverage you desire should the need arise. Lying, or not disclosing information, will only hurt you should you need to file a claim. Whether you buy online, from a broker, or direct - insurers need to know a few things about you to assess risk accurately.

Regardless of how you buy it, make sure it's from a trusted provider. There are cases of fraud, so it's essential to only deal with a licensed insurance provider. If you have any doubts, request the broker's license number, and verify this with the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada

Questions to ask your insurance company

  • What coverage is mandatory for your automobile? What coverages are optional?: For instance, it's mandatory to have third party liability at $200,000. Is that enough coverage? Do you need collision and comprehensive?
  • What do they have listed as the replacement value of your home? : If you did any renovations but failed to inform your provider (don't do this), your $800,000 house may only appear on their records with a value $500,000. Should the unthinkable happen, the claim payout you'd receive is only for the replacement cost, not the market value.
  • What are your contents insurance limits?: For instance, your bicycles are insured, but maybe only up to $500. Jewelry may have a limit of $2000 - is that enough?
  • Are there any discounts?: The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so ask and ye shall receive. If you don't, you won't get any discounts. Multi-policy discounts, union, and loyalty programs are available, but they vary with each provider. Find out what you might get - inform your provider of some personal details.
  • Are these the lowest prices?: It's similar to above, but sometimes it may prompt the agent or broker to think about other possibilities out there, especially if the cost is an important factor. Ask about ways you can save money like increasing your deductible.
  • Are they license to sell in your province?: Fraud is a significant factor in high insurance rates. Ensure you’ll have coverage by verifying their credentials through the licensing body for your province.
  • If I need to file a claim, how will it affect my premium?: One ticket shouldn't affect most auto insurance premiums, but a claim is still a mark on your otherwise clean record. Some insurance companies have first accident or first claim forgiveness programs. Ask if such a program exists, what it costs, and how it might affect your premium.
  • Can I make a claim on any day, at any time? Who do I call?:If you need to make a claim, a 24/7/365 service is helpful but may cost a little extra. If it's of value to you (think highway collision on a busy Saturday night), you'll want to have it. Other providers may only offer Monday to Friday 9-5. Also, make sure you know who to call and keep the claims centres phone number easy to find.

Insurance claims

While life is full of challenges, no one purposefully wants to make an insurance claim. Yes, a valid claim may result in a financial windfall. But, it comes at the expense of your time - hours spent speaking with claims adjusters, possibly lawyers - and repeating the same story to family and friends.

What is an insurance claim?

An insurance claim is a request from the policyholder, or their beneficiary, for financial compensation in the event a covered risk becomes a reality. Let's say a pipe bursts in your basement, and you have home insurance. As a result, you file a claim to your insurance provider, and they send out a claims adjuster to review the incident. So long as no foul play is suspected, you'll likely receive your payout based on the assessed value.

Is it worth it to file an insurance claim?

If you're filing a claim, first make sure it's worth it. For instance, let's say your car window is smashed in and your laptop is stolen from the back seat. That's an auto insurance claim for the window and a home insurance claim for your valuables. If your deductible, the part you pay before a payout is issued, is more than the cost to replace the window - it's not worth it. If the laptop is $2000, and you have a $500 deductible, that's pretty good value. But, remember to ask how it might affect your premiums going forward. is not affiliated or otherwise associated with Hub International Canada.