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If you own a car in Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada, you need car insurance. Albertan auto insurance policies are divided into three sections; Sections A and B deal with mandatory coverages, while Section C is optional. As the owner of a vehicle in Calgary, you are responsible for ensuring it has the mandatory minimum coverage required by law.
A basic Alberta car insurance policy only contains these two provisions, but according to provincial data, over 90% of Calgary’s drivers opt for additional protection by increasing their coverage limits and/or adding optional coverages to their policies.
Many drivers opt for both collision and comprehensive, but depending on the value of your vehicle, you may decide to get one over the other, or neither. The more coverage you choose, the more coverage you will have, and the more your insurance policy will cost.
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.
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.
On average, Calgary’s drivers face some of the highest car insurance rates in the province, second only to drivers in Edmonton. 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 is $1,316 per year, or $109.67 per month (Insurance Bureau of Canada 2019 report). Experts suggest rates will further increase this year; according to the most recent data (January 2020), the average premium for an inexperienced driver in Calgary is up to $3,491.
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.
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.
The City of Calgary’s Transportation Data and Forecasting department produce a report on motor collisions each year. According to the most recent one, the number of road network collisions has decreased slightly year over year, but serious collisions causing death have gone up.
|Road Network Collisions||37,937||37,300||-2%|
|Property Damage Only Collisions||35,280||34,788||-1%|
|Motor Vehicle Collisions per capita (1,000 pop.)||30||29||-3%|
Thanks to a reduction in the number of people drunk driving, collisions in Calgary decreased by almost 20% between 2009 and 2011. In response, insurance premiums began to shrink too.
However, this positive trend didn’t last long. Distracted driving due to smart phone use began to increase in 2012, and quickly replaced impaired driving as the biggest threat on Calgary’s roads. In terms of collisions, we are right back where we started.
|Year||# Collisions||Average auto premium rate change|
Alberta’s insurance companies were slow to respond to this new threat; they only increased premiums by a small amount and for a few years, they were paying out more in claims than they were bringing in. Now that the threat is fully realized, we expect to see large insurance rate increases for Calgary’s drivers, and they will stay high until the collision data, and the number of distracted driving convictions, begin to go down.
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.
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