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Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Car insurance rates vary from province-to-province, city-to-city, right down to your own neighbourhood. There are some costs you can’t control, such as the base rates in the public insurance systems in BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It's also difficult to change your age, gender, the car you currently drive, or where you live - but they're all factors that influence any car insurance quote. You can, however, still find a number of ways to save money on your auto insurance rates.
Below is a list of things you can do to save on car insurance today, some are easier than others.
The best ways to save on car insurance
Take a reputable driver training course
Passing a driver training course won’t affect your premiums in all provinces, but it’s something that is recognized in some and can result in a discount being taken off your premium. This tip is especially helpful for teens and young drivers.
Build a good driving record free of accidents and convictions
Yes, accidents happen, but you should always drive carefully and obey the rules of the road. That includes wearing your seat belt, not driving impaired by drugs or alcohol, not speeding and not using your cell phone. The longer you keep your driving record clean, the better. For example, in BC, you can get a discount for every year you are claims-free, up to 43% off!
Only pay for the coverage you need
While it makes sense for someone with a newer car to have collision and comprehensive insurance, if your vehicle isn't worth much, it may not make sense for you. Unless collision insurance is a condition of your loan or lease, it may be worth dropping the excess coverage. Always carry adequate third-party liability coverage, you don't want to be underinsured, either.
Think about insurance costs before you buy a vehicle
If you don’t want to pay a lot for car insurance, a good rule of thumb is not buying anything brand new and never owning a sports/luxury vehicle. Some cars also have higher theft rates than others, which is one factor that is used to calculate your car insurance rates. Before you buy a vehicle, test out the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s “How Cars Measure Up” tool, which compares cars in terms of their relative insurance costs and safety features.
Compare apples to apples
If you’re comparing car insurance rates from multiple insurance companies, make sure you are being quoted for the same coverage across the board. For example, is your third-party liability set at $1 or $2 million? Are both collision and comprehensive on all the quoted rates? Then compare what types of losses are covered by each policy, how their claims process works, and what other options, like accident forgiveness, might be available. Sometimes, the best price doesn’t equal the best product.
Increase your deductible
The deductible is the amount you have to pay when you make a claim before your provider pays the rest. For example, if your car is damaged and will cost $2,000 to fix, and your deductible is $500, your insurance pays $1,500. If you increase your deductible, you’re telling the insurance company that you’re willing to pay more later (if you need to), which typically results in them giving you a discount now. Deductibles often range from $300 to $1,000 — the higher your deductible, the lower your car insurance premium.
Ask about discounts
Ask your insurance company what additional discounts they offer. Often if you bundle your car with home insurance, you can save. You might save money by installing a car alarm, using winter tires, or get a group discount through union or membership affiliation. Also, consider telematics or usage based insurance (UBI). UBI is an app or device which measures your driving and could ear you a lower rate.
Don't miss a payment
This may seem the most obvious piece of financial advice, but it’s especially true for car insurance. Suppose your insurance company doesn’t receive a payment. In that case, it could result in the automatic cancellation of your car insurance policy – and you could be on the hook for a lot of money if you get into an accident without coverage. Also, a missed payment can result in you being deemed a “higher risk” to your car insurance company, resulting in higher premiums when you renew.
Compare car insurance quotes
Many young drivers enlist themselves with the same company as their parents, which can be a good idea because it shows loyalty, and you may get discounts for having more policies. Still, shop around to compare quotes to see if you can find a lower price elsewhere.
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Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read full bio
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