If you own a car in Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada, you need car insurance. Before purchasing a policy, it’s helpful for drivers to understand how they are structured. There is coverage that’s required by law as well as optional coverage that drivers can purchase at their discretion if they’d like additional protection. Some details about each are outlined below.
Calgary operates within Alberta’s private insurance system, whereby you purchase insurance from a private company such as an insurance broker, insurance agent or a direct policy writer (someone who works for a particular insurance company).
However, there is a government advisory board called AIRB (Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board) that regulates the amount of money private companies can charge for basic coverage (PLPD and accident benefits). They release the approved rate changes every three months.
AIRB have devised a Grid rating system, which enables drivers in Calgary to see the maximum rate they will have to pay for a basic policy. Many young drivers have their rates capped by the grid, but if you have a few years of experience and a clean record, you can expect to pay less.
Optional coverages are not regulated, and private companies can charge whatever amount they see fit. However, as with any private industry, companies must have competitive pricing in order to attract customers.
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|Savings: $258 (22%)|
|Savings: $1,513 (44%)|
|Savings: $549 (19%)|
|Insurance type||Mandatory coverage||Optional/ Additional Coverage|
|Accident benefits||Sometimes called no-fault benefits or Section B benefits, this covers costs associated with income replacement up to 80% of weekly earnings (max. $400 per week) for up to two years; medical treatment up to $50,000 per person per accident; funeral expenses of up to $5,000 per person; death benefits of $10,000 for head of household plus $2,000 to each dependent, $15,000 for first survivor and $4,000 for each additional survivor; $10,000 for the death of the spouse of the head of the household.|
|Direct Compensation for Property Damage (DCPD)||This coverage, introduced in Alberta at the beginning of 2022, means that the driver’s own insurance company compensates the driver for damages following a collision for which the driver is not at fault. Alberta’s previous system, which was tort-based, required that drivers who were not at-fault to seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. This approach tends to be time-consuming and costly.|
|Third-party Liability||Also known as third-party liability, this covers costs associated with lawsuits pertaining to injury, deaths, or damage to property of a third party in which you are responsible. The mandatory minimum policy limit is $200,000. According to AIRB, over 98% of Alberta’s drivers opt for additional liability coverage.||The most common coverage limits are $500,000, $1 million and $2 million.|
|Collision coverage||Optional||Covers car replacement or repair costs if your car is damaged in a collision and the policyholder is at fault.|
|Specified perils||Optional||Covers damage from perils specifically named in the Alberta auto insurance policy, such as attempted theft, damage in transport, earthquake, explosions, fire, lightning, riots or windstorm.|
|All-perils||Optional||Covers many perils, broadly, has similarities to collision and comprehensive coverage.|
|Accident Rating Waiver (SEF 39)||Optional||Prevents an Alberta car insurance premium from going up following a collision in which the policyholder is at fault.|
|Family Protection (SEF 44)||Optional||Protects drivers in a collision with an underinsured or uninsured driver. Will cover the difference if costs exceed the other driver’s insurance benefit.|
|Legal Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles (SEF 27)||Optional||Extends physical damage coverage to include rental cars. Drivers with this endorsement on their policies don’t need to purchase additional coverage when they rent a car.|
|Limited Glass (SEF 13D)||Optional||Reduces the amount of coverage for glass damage in exchange for a lower premium.|
|Limited Waiver of Depreciation (SEF 43R)||Optional||Waives depreciation on the repair or replacement of a new vehicle following damage from a covered peril. Is usually applicable to vehicles that are less than two years old.|
|Loss of Use (SEF 20)||Optional||Compensation for transportation costs up to a limit when a vehicle is damaged due to a covered peril.|
|Towing and Emergency Services (SEF 35)||Optional||Coverage for towing and other emergency service costs when a vehicle is disabled, and the driver doesn’t have roadside assistance.|
On average, Calgary’s drivers face some of the highest car insurance rates in the province, second only to drivers in Edmonton.
According toRATESDOTCA’s Auto Insuramap tool, in 2021, the average premium for a Calgary driver had increased to $2,230. The same tool revealed that by comparison Edmonton drivers paid an average amount of $2,124. The provincial average for the same year was $1,991. This means that the premiums in Calgary were 12% higher than the provincial average while those in Edmonton were 7% higher.
In 2019, a report by Insurance Bureau of Canada reflected that the average premium paid by a single driver with one car in Calgary is $1,500 per year, or $125 per month. In comparison, the provincial average for Alberta was $1,316 per year, or $109.67 per month.
Location within a city is one of the most significant factors influencing premiums. In 2021, RATESDOTCA’s Auto Insuramap tool indicated that Calgary residents located in the postal code region ‘T3Z’, in the southwestern part of the city, enjoyed the cheap premiums: $1,849. In the same year, residents in the postal code region ‘T1Y’, in the northeastern part of the city, who paid an average premium of $2,730.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific factor that leads to high car insurance premiums in any city, drivers based in neighbourhoods where there is a high volume of collisions and/or many incidents of vehicle theft will pay more for coverage.
Insurance companies are always trying to gauge how likely a driver is to make a claim. Drivers in densely populated neighbourhoods may be more likely to be in a collision and as a result will pay more for protection.
Here is a list of average 2021 premiums for various postal code regions in Calgary.
|Calgary postal code||Avg. 2021 premium|
There are many factors influencing your car insurance premium, but the most important ones are:
Your address: If you live in an area of Calgary with relatively little crime and few collisions, insurance companies will be more willing to offer a low premium. However, Calgary is somewhat unique in that auto crimes are not limited to specific hot spots. Calgary police see more vehicle thefts from the downtown core in the warmer months, but this trend is reversed in wintertime, when thieves head to the suburbs and take advantage of idling cars being left unattended.
Your vehicle. If you drive a normal car, your rate will likely be cheaper than if you drive a sports car or high-end SUV. The reason for this is that replacement parts are cheaper and easier to get, and someone who opts for a sensible sedan over a souped-up muscle car is seen as a less risky insurance prospect.
Your driving and insurance history: If you have been driving for a long time, and have had no insurance claims, speeding tickets or other infractions, insurers will be clamouring for your business. You are a perfect, low-risk candidate and deserving of the lowest rates. According to internal data, the percentage of Calgary drivers who have had no accidents in the past 10 years is 85.60%.
Your driving habits: People who spend more time on the road have more chance of getting into an accident and have to pay more for insurance. This is why insurance companies request your annual mileage when completing a quote. According to internal data, the average distance driven by Calgary drivers is 14,028 km per year.
Your age: There isn’t much you can do about this one unfortunately. Drivers under the age of 25, or with less than eight years of driving experience, pay more for car insurance in Calgary. The data shows that this group is more likely to be involved in a motor accident, and insurance companies offset the risk by asking for a higher premium. Keep a clean record, and you’ll see rates decrease as you gain more experience.
There’s a lot you can do to ensure that you’re getting the best price for your auto insurance, and the following tips will help ensure you’re not overpaying for your coverage:
Calgary’s private auto insurance industry means there are many companies competing for your business. Compare multiple rates before you purchase a policy to ensure you have the best deal.
If your deductible is currently sitting at $500 and you are willing to take on a higher portion of risk, save up to 10% by increasing it to $1,000.
Pay your premiums annually, in one lump sum, to avoid administrative fees that are sometimes charged for monthly payments.
Save up to 15% when you buy your home insurance from the same company that covers your car.
Many Calgary households have more than one vehicle. Save up to 20% by insuring them on the same policy.
Each year, review your optional coverages. If your circumstances have changed and they’re no longer needed, slim down your policy for a lower premium.
You may be surprised to learn that insurance companies offer discounts to members of some local organizations. The most common association discounts for Calgary drivers go to SAIT, The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), University of Calgary Students and University of Calgary Alumni.
Calgary gets a lot of snow, and collisions spike during bad weather. Let your insurer know if you have winter tires, as most providers give a 5% discount for this safety measure.
Encourage young Calgarians to take an approved driver’s training course. It demonstrates responsibility and the insurance savings typically outweigh the cost of the course within one year.
Calgary car insurance rates are increasing, and quotes can vary by hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the exact same protection. If you don’t shop around, you are almost certainly paying too much.
InsuranceHotline.com helps drivers compare rates from over 50 of Canada's top insurance providers. We show you your options side by side, making it easy to find the best price and coverage. Our service is free and there is never any obligation to buy.
Last year, Calgary drivers who compared quotes on InsuranceHotline.com saved an average of $1,301* on their annual premium.
*Represents the average saved by Calgary shoppers who obtained an auto insurance quote on InsuranceHotline.com and transacted via our contact centre between January and December 2022. The average savings amount represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third-lowest quoted premiums generated by InsuranceHotline.com.
Here are some of the most common questions we get about car insurance in Calgary.
Without insurance, you will not be able to register your automobile. It is illegal to drive an uninsured or unregistered vehicle in Alberta. Mandatory coverages vary from province to province, but in Alberta, each policy must include third-party liability and accident benefits insurance.
For more information on provincial regulations, check out our Alberta car insurance page.
Alberta, owing historically to a high impaired driving rate, and more recently to cell phone use behind the wheel, has a higher percentage of serious collisions than other parts of Canada. Calgary is the most populated city in Alberta and as a result, the problem is worse here than in rural parts of the province.
Calgary also has a high rate of insurance fraud and vehicular theft. Unfortunately for residents, insurance companies recoup their costs by increasing rates for everyone in the city.