All drivers must have car insurance to drive a car in Fort McMurray legally. Here’s what else is essential to know about car insurance in Alberta.
There are minimum requirements that car insurance policies must satisfy. A standard policy must include third-party liability, accident benefits, direct compensation for property damage (DCPD), and uninsured automobile insurance.
In Alberta, you buy insurance from private insurance companies. Several provinces have government-provided insurance, but you purchase insurance from brokers, agents or providers directly (also known as direct writers) in Alberta.
A provincial body called the Auto Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) regulates the price of insurance. This body has the final say on what metrics insurers can use to rate drivers. Suppose an insurance company wants to change the rates they charge customers (whether to increase or decrease). In that case, it must seek approval from AIRB beforehand.
AIRB also maintains the Grid rating program. First introduced in 2004, the Grid dictates the maximum premium that insurers can charge for basic coverage (i.e. third-party liability, accident benefits and direct compensation property damage). For optional coverage beyond basic, insurance companies set their own rates without intervention from the regulatory board.
Where a driver lands on the Grid is determined by several factors, including the years they've been licensed, any at-fault claims or speeding tickets on their record, and if they've completed an approved driver training program.
Drivers move up or down on the Grid as their driving record changes. The lower you are on the grid, the cheaper your insurance rate.
The two basic types of insurance systems are no-fault and tort-based. Alberta’s approach has some aspects of each but trends more toward a tort-based system.
One of the distinguishing features of a tort system is that it allows people who've been injured in a car accident to sue for damages (in addition to the benefits they receive from insurance). Under a no-fault system, people are prohibited from suing or are limited in their ability. Albertans can sue for damages like pain and suffering and economic loss.
Under a no-fault system, drivers don't have to sue a third party's insurance company for payment for medical treatments; insured drivers receive these benefits from their insurer regardless of any fault determination, which is the case in Alberta.
Also, under a no-fault system, if you were not responsible for causing an accident, your insurance company will handle your repair or replacement costs under the direct compensation property damage (DCPD) section of your car insurance policy. DCPD is a hallmark of no-fault and, since 2022, has been part of all standard auto insurance policies issued in Alberta.
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|Insurance coverage||Mandatory or optional||Description|
|Accident benefits||Mandatory||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)||Mandatory||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||Mandatory||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 for PLPD 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.|
The average annual premium in Fort McMurray is $1,806, according to the RATESDOTCA Insuramap. It’s roughly 9% below the provincial average of $1,991.
Here’s how other cities compare to Fort McMurray’s average:
Many factors influence the cost of a car insurance policy. Insurance companies determine the price of premiums based on:
Most of the factors listed above are in your control. However, some factors that affect your premium are out of your control, including.
Things like inflation and supply shortages cause prices to rise. The insurance company’s recent claims activity is another major factor.
If a company has recently paid out more in claims in a fiscal year, it will raise rates to account for the elevated risk and costs. On the other hand, a company with steady customer claims might offer lower premiums by comparison.
Several tactics will reduce your premium.
When your policy is up for renewal, your insurance company will give you a heads-up. You’ll have a grace period during which you can change providers without being charged a fee by your current one.
Take three minutes each year to compare quotes from different car insurance companies to see if another can offer a lower rate.
Increasing a deductible (the amount you pay before your insurer pays) will save money. For example, doubling a $500 deductible to $1,000 can reduce your premium by up to 10%.
Instead of breaking it up over 12 payments, pay your entire insurance bill upfront. Administrative fees get tacked onto monthly bills, which can increase the total spent on insurance per year.
Purchasing home and auto insurance from the same insurance company can help you save up to 15%. This is known as'bundling.'
You don't need to keep optional insurance coverages forever. For example, if your car is over five years old, you may no longer need collision or comprehensive insurance. Your car's value will likely have depreciated to the extent that you could save money by paying out of pocket to repair or replace rather than paying for optional insurance.
Allowing your insurer to monitor your driving habits can garner a discount of up to 25% on your premium.
Be sure to ask about discounts you might qualify for, including alumni and claims-free discounts.
Use winter tires between November 1st and April 1st. It usually nets you a discount of about 5%.
New drivers will benefit immensely from a driver's education course, from a practical standpoint and a financial one. New drivers who attend an accredited driver's education course can receive a discounted rate. Getting good instruction is crucial for new drivers, as they are one of the demographics that pay the most for insurance.
Car insurance rates are going up in Alberta, and if you renew your policy with the same provider, you will almost certainly have to pay more than you did last year. The only way to buck this trend is to shop around for a better rate.
InsuranceHotline.com works with over 50 insurance providers to aggregate their rates and bring you multiple quotes so you can choose the policy that’s best for you. If you like what you see, we’ll connect you to a licensed broker to secure the policy.
Last year, Fort McMurray drivers who used InsuranceHotline.com saved an average of $1,484* on their car insurance. Find out how much you could save today.
*Represents the average saved by Fort McMurray 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.
The body that regulates car insurance prices in Alberta, the Auto Insurance Rate Board (AIRB), recommends shopping around. In other words, this means getting quotes from multiple car insurance companies.
InsuranceHotline.com will scan offerings from 50+ insurance providers in the time that it takes to apply for one quote.
The answer is different for everyone due to how car insurance pricing works. Insurance companies calculate how much risk you and your car present and base the premium on that. In short, insurance companies don't offer flat-rate premiums.
An effective way to quickly determine which insurance companies can offer the lowest rates is by using a rate comparison site like InsuranceHotline.com.
You'll need a valid driver's license, for starters. If you hold a license in your home country, you have a 90-day grace period from when you arrive to change over your license.
The province judges each country’s licensing system differently, so check with the Government of Alberta to see where your home country stands.
After you've received a valid licence, you can get car insurance. Some Canadian insurance companies will count your driving experience from your home country. Unfortunately, not all will. You may need to build your insurance history from square one. One way to prevent this is to have a record of your insurance to show Canadian providers.