Car insurance is one of the biggest costs to owning a car, so you can save or cost yourself a lot of money depending on how you get yourself insured. We put together a number of tips that can help you save a little more, and if you put them all together you can immediately save yourself a lot.
Step 1: Review Your Policy
The quickest and easiest way to save on your insurance is to simply review your current insurance policy along with what’s going on in your life. There are a number of ways you can you can adjust your policy to save more.
1.1 Shop Around
This is the most important tip you will read in this guide. You should always shop around for car insurance – when you first get insurance, when your policy is up for renewal, and so on. There is never a reason not to, and in just a year enough can have changed in your situation to affect your rates. In addition, some companies offer discounts to attract or retain new customers so you should always be on the lookout for such deals.
Here are some tips for shopping around:
- Check insurance comparison websites
- Search for Ontario insurance companies that offer new customer discounts
- Check with your company and see if they offer a loyalty discount to stay
- Ask your insurance broker to see if he can find/offer you better rates
There’s no guarantee that you’ll find a company that can offer you a better deal, but there’s usually a good chance that you can and it doesn’t cost you anything to check.
1.2 Change Your Policy
You can always change parts of your insurance coverage that will save you money on your payments. Here are some examples:
- Cancel Collision Coverage – not as necessary with older cars
- Increase Your Deductible – the higher the deductible the lower your premiums/rates, but this will mean you have to pay more in the event of a crash
- Minimal Coverage – only pay for what is required by Ontario law and nothing more
If you make these types of changes the benefit is that you are lowering your payments, but the drawback is you are also reducing your coverage for when you might need it. Depending on your preference, you might choose to drop or reduce some aspects while leaving the rest alone.
There are two ways that you can create insurance “bundles” to save the payments you make on each individual element.
The first is when you insure more than one car together on the same policy. So if you or your family have more than one car, you can save on the total insurance payments by having them bundled together on the same policy. The second is by combining multiple types of insurance. Most insurance companies offer savings when you bundle your car and home insurance on one policy, and some even offer additional bundling options for things like boats, jewelry, and more.
1.4 Annual vs. Monthly Payment
You can save a bit of money by paying for your insurance once per year rather than once per month. This helps the insurance company save on the administrative costs of billing you every month and a lot of the time they will pass the cost savings on to you. It means you will have to pay a larger amount all at once, but in the long run it can help you save as long as you have that money up front.
1.5 Update Your Record
Sometimes an insurance company will not automatically adjust your rates to match your up to date driving record, and will only do so when your policy needs to be renewed. This is why when you shop around other companies you can usually find a better rate – they are using your most up to date information. You can also occasionally try calling your company and bring up the following:
- Clean Record – if they haven’t updated their record of your clean driving experience
- Dropped Tickets & Accidents – after 3 years any accidents or traffic violations are dropped from your record and your rates can usually be lowered accordingly
- Better License Level – if you obtained a higher driver’s license level in Ontario’s licensing program your rates are usually lowered
This is all dependent upon you keeping a clean driving record, and even then you won’t always get a reduced rate. That’s why you should always be willing to shop around other companies and see what options are available to you.
Step 2: Look For Technology & Discounts
As technology advances, the insurance industry allows for customers to get discounts on their car insurance if they meet certain conditions. The discount might have its own cost if you have to buy into a technology to be eligible, but it might also save you more in the long run.
2.1 Winter Tires
As of January 1st 2016, the Ontario government passed a law mandating that insurance companies give drivers a discount on their insurance if they buy and install winter tires on their cars for the winter months. The discount is usually around 5% of your collision coverage or $80 per vehicle per year, but you will not necessarily get this discount immediately. Some companies make you wait until your policy renews, so make sure you call your insurer to find out how they handle it.
2.2 Anti-Theft Device
If you have an anti-theft device installed on your car, it helps reduce the risk of your car being stolen and so most insurance companies will lower your rates accordingly. Some of the more common anti-theft devices include:
- Engine Immobilizer – automatically prevents the engine from running when it detects the owner’s key is not being used to start it
- Car Alarm – sounds a loud alarm when it detects an attempted theft
- Steering Wheel Locks – prevents the steering wheel from being used properly
Some types of devices are better at preventing theft than others, and so they will provide better insurance discounts. You will need to provide proof of installation of the approved device to the insurance company to get a discount.
2.3 Dashboard Cameras
Dashboard camera, or “dashcams”, is a new technology that is becoming increasingly popular. The appeal is that if there is a dispute of who is at fault in an accident with no other witness, or the other party flees the scene, you have objective proof to fall back on. There is no mainstream or common discount from most insurance companies, at least not yet. There are some ways they can help lower your rates indirectly, however:
- Reduce Insurance Fraud – this helps lower the overall insurance costs for everyone
- Evidence of Fault – helps provide solid proof that you are not at-fault in an accident in the event of a dispute
- Anti-Scams – helps you provide evidence to avoid being scammed by fake or set-up accidents
- Future Discounts – if companies wind up offering discounts for the use of dashcams you will be ready
Because it is a newer technology, make sure you call your insurance company – or call other companies – to find out what policies they have in place. By the time you read this there might be discounts or lower rates available to for dashcam users.
2.4 Usage-Based Insurance
Usage-based insurance (UBI) is another new technology that is also becoming more popular where you pay your insurance based on when and how you drive. You install the necessary tracking device on your car and it, along with a GPS, monitors your driving behaviour. The data is examined when your policy is up for renewal, and usually looks at the following:
- Distance – how much do you drive your car?
- Driving Speed – do you stay within the limit of the road?
- Usage – when during the day do you drive your car?
- Driving Risk – are your driving habits safe?
Not all insurance companies offer UBI in Ontario, so ask around to see who does if you are interested. You don’t have to worry about your rates going up, as companies can only lower your rates if they find that you are a lower risk due to your driving habits.
Step 3: Check Your Memberships & Affiliations
If you have certain memberships or affiliations with eligible organizations, you can either get a discount or get better quotes if you get your insurance through them.
3.1 Professional Associations
Some professional associations have benefits for their members including savings on car insurance. They usually have a partnership in place with a specific insurance provider, and sometimes include additional benefits like priority customer service. Some of the major professional associations who have such partnerships include:
- Canadian Nurses Association
- Professional Engineers Ontario
- Chartered Professional Accountants Ontario
- Ontario Bar Association
Make sure you talk to your association to find out just how cheap they can get insurance for you, and always shop around. You might still be able to get cheaper insurance and better discounts through other means.
3.2 Employers & Unions
Some employers will offer their employees savings or discounts to employees on their car insurance if you go through them, similar to professional associations and their members. The same tips apply for this as with associations: ask the organization how the insurance benefits work, and make sure to still shop around in case you can find a better deal elsewhere.
3.3 Alumni & Students
Many universities and colleges have partnerships with a major insurance company to provide cheaper car insurance to current students as well as alumni. They will usually offer other discounts if you bundle with home insurance, as well as priority customer service if you are contacting them for information or to make a claim. Call your school’s representative to find out what benefits you can get, and as always make sure you still compare their quotes in case you can save more money elsewhere.
3.4 Canadian Automobile Association
The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is a non-profit organization in Canada that provides a number of benefits to members, such as roadside assistance and travel services. CAA also provides car insurance, and offers its members additional savings as a benefit. It is a paid membership, and car insurance is an extra service that you would have to sign up for so make sure you still shop around.
Step 4: Plan Around Life Changes
There are a number of ways you can change your own life that will help lower your insurance payments. Most often they might just happen on their own accord and not because you wanted to get cheaper insurance, but if they happen you can take advantage of them.
4.1 Change Vehicles
What vehicle you have is one of the major factors in how much your insurance rates will be. So when you are thinking of changing vehicles and buying something different, keep the following in mind:
- High Theft Models – some cars get stolen more than others and the cost to insure them is higher
- Safety Ratings – cars that are safer reduce significant injuries and therefore lower insurance costs
- Price – cars that are more expensive are also more expensive for insurance to replace if they are stolen or totalled
- Cost of Repair – some brands and models are cheaper to repair or replace damaged parts than others
Many of the reasons why some cars are cheaper to insure than others is because for various reasons they are cheaper to repair or replace if they are stolen or damaged in an accident.
4.2 New home/parking
Where you live is one of the major factors in the cost of car insurance, so if you move to a new home that could impact your insurance rates – for better or for worse. Here are some factors to consider:
- Neighbourhood – living in an area with higher or lower car theft rates
- Parking – Secure, indoor and locked parking helps reduce the risk of theft
- City vs. Country – there are more accidents living in Toronto or Mississauga than in smaller towns
When you move to a new home, make sure you call up your insurance provider and let them know about these circumstances so they can pass on any savings to you.
4.3 Different usage
If something happens in your life that changes how much you use your car it also impacts your insurance. This is because the less you drive your car the lower your insurance will be, so here are some common changes to consider:
- New Job – if you get a new job that’s closer to where you live
- New Home – if you move somewhere closer to your job
- Different Commute – if you change your commute to use your car less, like carpooling or telecommuting
- Alternative Transport – if you start using public transit or riding a bike to get around more than using your car
The reasons do not have to be centered on your work, but cars are mostly used for daily commutes so it has the largest potential impact on your usage. If you realize that for any reason you have started using your car less, report it to your insurance company and they are likely to reduce your rates.
4.4 Safe driving courses
This is more useful for new drivers who do not have much driving experience in the province. You can take certified driving courses that will help prove to the insurance companies that you are capable of driving in a safe manner and they will usually give you a discount.
If you want to save more money on your car insurance, there are a lot of potential ways for you to do so. They all center on reviewing your life, making some changes to your driving habits, and looking into potential discounts you can get. Most importantly of all, always remember to shop around and see your options because you can almost always find cheaper rates somewhere else. Good luck!