If you need to renew your auto insurance soon, be prepared for a possible rate increase on your renewal notice.
More than two dozen private insurance companies in Ontario have received approval from the provincial regulator to raise premiums over the next few months, and industry experts say the trend is likely to continue.
“I wish I had good news for consumers, but all I hear is rates are going up,” said John Shmuel, editor of insurance and finance website Ratesdotca.
“I really don’t know if many insurance companies will be able to keep their car insurance rates flat right now.”
Along with the highest inflation rates in decades, higher auto insurance premiums would be another blow to the wallets of Ontario consumers. But the good news is that there are ways to lower what you pay.
Slowing down driving in the event of a pandemic
Over the past two and a half years, car insurance companies have processed fewer claims compared to the pre-pandemic period. Closures and the shift to working from home have resulted in fewer drivers on the roads and fewer accidents. Companies responded by lowering prices, keeping them unchanged. Some even offered discounts to customers.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), which oversees the auto insurance market and is responsible for evaluating and approving any rate increases, has not approved any rate increases in 2020. and only one in 2021 — by 0.29%. But this year, the FSRA approved 31 rate increases, according to a public database on its website.
Companies are looking to raise rates now because their costs are rising as driving rates return to normal, Shmuel said.
“Wherever you look in the system, there are just more costs,” he said.
Inflation drives up the cost of new, used, and lease cars as well as auto parts. Ongoing supply chain issues make it difficult to get parts on time.
Some of the reasons for the rising costs for insurance companies predate the pandemic, Shmuel said, such as how increasingly complex car designs have made it harder to repair them.
A recent spike in car thefts in the Greater Toronto Area could also put upward pressure on rates as insurance companies pay more to replace stolen vehicles, Shmuel said.
Mary Kelly, a professor of finance at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., said the cost of providing accident victim health care, such as rehabilitation and disability benefits, is another factor. which drives up costs for insurance companies.
“We know that medical costs are always increasing [so if] the likelihood of you having an accident is greater because we’re back to pre-pandemic levels, so those costs are going to go up as well,” Kelly said.
Kelly said whether or not your rates increase depends on which company you buy your insurance from, where you live and other features that factor into your premium, such as your claims history. and the type of vehicle you drive.
Ways to lower your rates
Experts say there are a number of things you can do to ease the pain of rising insurance rates.
Shop around and compare rates. Unlike other provinces in Canada that have only one public insurer, Ontario has dozens of companies that offer auto insurance. This allows you to compare plans and prices. Talk to an insurance broker or check out a price comparison website to find a rate that’s right for you. Kelly recommended young drivers look for packages that charge based on how much they drive, which can result in lower rates in months when they don’t drive too often.
Choose the coverage that’s right for you. Drivers of older cars with little market value may want to consider opting out of optional add-on coverage like collision and comprehensive coverage. For example, if you own a 15-year-old car that is worth less than $500, it may not be worth the money or even the chance to replace it after an accident.
Combine your insurance. Companies often offer discounts to customers who purchase home, auto and/or renter’s insurance from the same company.
Increase your deductible. The deductible is the amount you pay for repairs or replacement before an insurance company starts paying a claim. Most companies offer the choice of paying a deductible of $500 or $1,000. Choosing to go for a higher deductible will reduce the premium you pay monthly, which could mean big savings for drivers who go a long time without making a claim.
Install winter tires. Many insurance companies offer a discount to drivers who purchase and install winter tires.
Check if you qualify for an affinity program. People can often access discounts through organizations, associations, nonprofits, and clubs