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Car insurance is mandatory in all provinces and territories.
There are serious consequences for driving without insurance. These include having your license suspended, your car impounded, and fines. In Ontario, the fines range from $5,000 up to $50,000; in Alberta, they range from $2,875 up to $20,000.
Plus, your insurance premiums will increase (the larger the fine, the more significant the increase).
So why aren’t other forms of insurance, like life and home insurance, not legally required? Car accidents take a toll on society. Without mandatory insurance, victims likely wouldn't be able to access crucial support. Having a clear system for resolving disputes also ensures the courts don't get tied up, too.
Regulation at the federal and provincial levels
Insurance is regulated at both the federal and provincial levels.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is responsible for administering sections of the Act that deal with consumers' rights and monitoring insurance companies' compliance with the law.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) regulates the solvency and financial soundness of property and casualty insurance companies.
Then, each province and territory have their own Superintendents of Insurance. These bodies regulate the products offered by insurers and their conduct in the marketplace (underwriting, rating, and marketing practices, as well as their handling of claims). The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) regulates the car insurance industry in Ontario. The Alberta equivalent is the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB).
Private vs. public car insurance markets
Canada has a patchwork of insurance markets. The provinces get to decide what delivery system they want, which is why some have private insurance markets (where you buy insurance directly from a company of your choice), and others have public insurance funded by taxpayers.
Quebec’s system can be described as quasi-public. Here, the public insurer only regulates insurance for bodily injuries, while physical damage and liability are provided by private insurers.
Provinces with private auto insurance systems (Ontario, Alberta, all the territories and Atlantic provinces) have laws preventing drivers with less than stellar driving and insurance records from being refused insurance coverage. This is called an all-comers rule.
The all-comers rule aims to stamp out business practices that dissuade troubled drivers from getting a quote.
That said, if you have poor driving and insurance histories, your insurer might bring you on as a customer — but your premium will be much higher than the average driver's.
The differences between provinces don't stop there.
Tort vs no-fault insurance
Tort insurance was once the dominant claims resolution methodology in Canada.
A tort is a legal concept for civil wrongs that inflict pain and damage to another person due to negligence.
Under a tort auto insurance system, some insurance accident benefits are included in a standard policy, but they’re limited in comparison to the benefits in no-fault systems. If you’re injured by someone else’s actions, you must sue to cover your expenses.
No fault coverage means you get comprehensive benefits regardless of who's at fault for causing the accident. In exchange, your right to sue for pain and suffering is limited.
To this day in Saskatchewan, you can decide whether you want a tort or no-fault accident benefits package.
Alberta doesn't fit into either the no-fault or tort category, either. It is a primarily tort-based system with some facets of a no-fault one. In 2022, the province introduced direct compensation for property damage (DCPD), which means your insurance company will pay for repairs to your vehicle if you're not at fault for a collision (no need to get lawyers involved). This type of coverage is usually only found in provinces with no-fault frameworks.
On the other hand, you can sue the at-fault party for damages in Alberta (a hallmark feature of the tort approach).
Geography and auto insurance
To get even more granular, insurance premiums are dictated by geographical boundaries.
Most insurance companies use postal codes to determine the boundaries. However, the province can get involved and set restrictions on rating territories.
Since you can't legally operate a car without insurance in Canada —driving is an inherently risky activity — auto insurance policies are tightly regulated and standardized.
However, the provinces get to determine what constitutes mandatory and optional coverage.
The maximum amount an insurer will pay to an insurance policyholder varies in each province and territory.
Broadly speaking, liability and accident coverage is mandatory in most provinces, while insurance that covers damage to the body of the car and personal effects is optional (with some exceptions).
Insurance endorsements are a kind of optional coverage. They're policy change forms that alter standard policies in ways that optional products don't. Endorsements can enhance or reduce your existing coverage.
See the mandatory coverage for your province here.
A car insurance quote provides an estimate of what you’ll be charged for car insurance, monthly and annually. You can get a quote from a broker, an agent, or an insurance comparison site (like InsuranceHotline.com).
Regardless of the route you take, you’ll be asked intake questions before you can see your quote. Your answers provide a general picture of your insurance needs.
Every car currently in use needs to have insurance – it's illegal to operate one without it. Because of this, your auto insurance quote will automatically include the minimum coverage required to operate a car legally.
You’ll also have a chance to state whether you think you’ll need optional forms of insurance; this will be factored into the quote you get.
Here’s what you can expect to be asked during the quoting process:
Auto insurance policies are standardized. However, there’s still a wide variance in how much one company charges for coverage versus another one. It's important to compare quotes from a variety of providers. With car insurance rates going up (and the cost of living in general), it’s more important than ever to find savings where you can.
Whether you’re getting car insurance for the first time or looking to renew your current policy, many factors shape your car insurance premium, from car type to driving record.
Below are some factors that insurers use to determine your insurance premium.
Your vehicle type
Insurance companies have different rates for different car makes and models. The insurance company looks at a few things when determining your rate: the chances of your car being stolen or damaged in an accident, for example. Certain vehicles have a higher risk of being stolen than others. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the vehicles that attract thieves most often are Ford pickup trucks and Toyota SUVs.
Insurance companies also consider how much it might cost to repair your car if you get into an accident. Generally, rates tend to be higher for newer cars, especially sporty models, but safety and driver-assisted features may help lower your premium.
If you’re curious about how your car measures up, find out which makes and models are the cheapest to insure.
Most drivers can expect to see their car insurance rates decrease for the first time when they reach the age of 25. Up until this point, young drivers, especially young male drivers, are considered high-risk due to the increased likelihood of getting into an accident and having to file a claim. As you build a safe driving record and insurance history, both may result in a cheaper car insurance premium over time.
As you get older, car insurance typically gets cheaper again when you hit 50 years old. By this age, you have an established driving record, insurance history, and are considered to be a lower risk.
But by the time you hit your mid-50s and onwards, your car insurance might increase. Find out how you can save some money with affordable seniors’ insurance.
Your gender and marital status
Insurance companies also consider your gender. That’s because males are statistically more likely to file an insurance claim, which means men pose a higher risk of getting into a car accident.
Your marital status may also factor into the equation. Married couples tend to get lower rates than single individuals. So, if you’re a young, single male, you may pay a higher rate than your married counterparts.
According to this Globe and Mail article, there are a few reasons why married couples get lower rates, including their age and driving experience. Also, many married couples have kids and tend to drive more responsibly.
With that said, each insurer determines their own rates, and some won’t factor in your marital status.
Where you live
Where you live can have a big impact on your car insurance rate. That’s because urban areas tend to have higher claims costs. Being in an area with more people means more risks, accidents, and thefts. When those things occur, claim costs rise, and so do premiums.
Along with urban areas having higher claims costs, your postal code also affects your premium. Each postal code is associated with a neighbourhood, and some neighbourhoods are at a higher risk for theft or accidents.
The cost of your insurance largely depends on your personal driving record. Previous accidents, how long you’ve been licensed, whether or not you’ve taken a driver training course, speeding tickets, and serious convictions such as impaired and distracted driving are all part of your record.
The more traffic convictions and collisions you have, your insurance premium will likely be higher.
The length of time traffic convictions stays on your driving record varies. For example:
Car accidents are a bit trickier to determine, and the primary factor is finding out who is at fault. Your insurer will use provincial Fault Determination Rules to determine who caused the accident. If you’re found at-fault – partially or fully – your premium may increase, and the collision will stay on your driving record for six years.
Shopping around for the best deal can be time-consuming and overwhelming, as each insurance company offers different rates based on your profile. To simplify and expedite your search for affordable car insurance, get a free quote from a broad range of insurers.
After you’ve found a few insurance rates you’re interested in, you can start comparing the policies line by line to see what is offered and what isn’t. Keep in mind that cheap doesn’t always mean the best.
To truly get the cheapest and best car insurance, you should shop around whether your policy is up for renewal or not because each company offers different rates.
Depending on what type of car you have, you may want to get different coverage. For example, you should consider a depreciation waiver on a brand-new car. If your car is severely damaged in an accident, this coverage allows drivers to receive a claim on the value of their car. Of course, there are caveats to this: the car must be brand new (not used), the waiver can last between one and three years, and your claim will be settled in one of three ways (whichever is lower):
Insurance policy deductible
The deductible is the amount of money you would pay before insurance starts to cover you in the event of an accident, theft or other damage to your vehicle. Depending on the policy, the deductible amount can vary but typically starts at a few hundred dollars and goes up.
It may sound counterintuitive to want to increase your deductible, but a higher deductible means a lower premium.
Ask about discounts
The best way to save even more is to ask your provider about discounts they offer and what you may qualify for.
Here are a few easy ways to potentially save:
Review your policy annually
Reviewing your policy annually ensures you’re still getting the best rate, especially if your insurance needs change throughout the year.
After careful review, you can decide to renew the same policy, make changes to your policy, or switch insurers to get the coverage you need at an affordable price.
Whatever you decide, it's good to review and shop around annually.
Get quotes from as many insurance companies as you can.
Car insurance is mandatory in Canada, but that doesn't mean you need to stick with your current car insurance provider or the one favoured by your family and friends.
Car insurance providers will happily offer you a quote at no charge. This way, you can get a close estimate of what you can expect to pay annually.
Don't take our word for it: even the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recommends applying for quotes as the first step when buying car insurance.
A licensed insurance broker can retrieve multiple quotes for you.
You can also use a rates comparison site like InsuranceHotline.com. Our network includes over 50 Canadian insurance providers. We'll show you what rates insurance companies are willing to offer you, starting with your lowest quote.
Or you can try both routes and see which one you prefer. We’re confident you’ll love InsuranceHotline.com's service. It's always free and it takes three minutes or less to apply for a quote.
Make sure your application is accurate.
When you apply for quotes on InsuranceHotline.com or through a broker, you want to make sure that the information you provided during the screening process is accurate.
That way, you know the rates offered to match what you'll be charged when signing the contract.
You can expect to be asked about the following:
Many car insurance providers and brokers offer the ability to apply online for quotes. One thing to watch out for is sites that ask too few questions.
At InsuranceHotline.com, we’ve engineered our form to ask the most important questions while not turning the process of getting quotes into a drawn-out task. Our service ensures you get accurate quotes in three minutes or less.
Rethink how much insurance you really need
We're not suggesting you skimp on insurance coverage to save some money in the immediate future. However, you could wind up adding optional insurance coverage to your policy that might not be worth the investment. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage on an older car: you could use the money you would pay for these extras and invest it into buying a new car out of pocket.
One place where many Canadians are chronically underinsured, though, is third-party liability insurance. The mandatory minimum limit in most provinces is around $200,000, whereas insurance experts recommend increasing it to at least $1 million. After all, the cost of legal expenses, decisions, and medical care have increased since the minimum limit was set.
Offer to pay for the whole year upfront
This might not be feasible if you're a young and inexperienced driver (this group tends to pay some of the highest rates). But, if you're a driver in your thirties or older with a clean driving and insurance record, paying for the whole year upfront will often save you some cash.
When you pay month-to-month, administrative fees are tacked onto your bill. You're saving the car insurance provider money when you pay for the year at renewal time.
Apply for as many discounts as possible
Insurance companies offer lots of discounts. Here are some of the most common ones:
You might consider using a combination of devices. Faraday bags are a must-have accessory for all cars with keyless entry: these pouches will block any signal that tries to clone your key fob.
Try usage-based insurance
This product qualifies as a discount, but it gets its own section given what a game-changer it has proven itself to be for urban drivers.
Think of it like one of those retro pay-as-you-go cell phone plans.
With usage-based insurance (UBI), you pay for a baseline number of annual kilometres, usually about 10,000 km. If you exceed that, your insurance company will charge you for every extra 1,000 km or so.
In order for the insurer to keep tabs on your mileage, you must install a monitoring device in your car.
Telematics is similar to UBI. It adds a layer of data collection, though. With a telematics device installed, your insurance provider will monitor your driving patterns, like your average driving and braking speeds, not just your kilometres.
You must install a monitoring device or an app on your phone to participate. It can amount to discounts in the region of 20% at renewal time plus an initial discount for signing up.
One thing to note is that insurance companies are allowed to use your data against you in Ontario. If the device detects unsafe driving, your insurer could increase your premium.
Keep insurance costs in mind when you shop for a new car
The make and model of the car you choose will determine how much you pay for insurance.
Used cars that have already depreciated in value usually command lower auto insurance rates.
Despite being older, some used cars still attract thieves. If you want to keep insurance costs down, consider checking to see if the car you're eyeing has made it on the Insurance Bureau of Canada's most stolen list. Cars that make the list usually have higher than average insurance premiums.
All car insurance might seem the same, but it operates differently in each province and territory. Depending on where you live, insurance may be purchased by private, public, or a combination of both providers.
Public insurance is government-run at a provincial level. Private insurance is sold by financial institutions, insurance companies, and insurance brokers and offers a more competitive landscape. Both types of car insurance are regulated by a provincially governing body.
All provinces and territories require drivers to have auto insurance, which includes mandatory third-party liability coverage across the country. Most provinces require $200,000 minimum in coverage, though Quebec drivers need just $50,000 and Nova Scotia drivers need $500,000.
Three other types of coverage are mandatory in some provinces, but not all. This includes accident benefits, direct compensation-property damage (DC-PD), and uninsured automobile coverage. This table shows where each type of insurance is mandatory across the country.
|Alberta||British Columbia||Manitoba||New Brunswick||Newfoundland and Labrador||Northwest Territories||Nova Scotia||Nunavut||Ontario||Prince Edward Island||Quebec||Saskatchewan||Yukon|
|Third-party liability||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $500,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $500,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $50,000||Minimum $200,000||Minimum $200,000|
|Direct compensation-property damage (DCPD)||Mandatory||Mandatory||N/A||Mandatory||Mandatory||N/A||Mandatory||N/A||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||N/A||N/A|
|Uninsured automobile insurance||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Specified perils coverage||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|All perils coverage||Optional||Optional||Mandatory||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Suspension of coverage (SEF/QEF/OPCF16)||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Loss of use coverage (SEF/QEF/OPCF20)||Optional||Mandatory||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Coverage for damage to non-owned automobiles (SEF/QEF/OPCF27)||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Accident forgiveness (SEF/QEF/OPCF39)||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Remove depreciation deduction (SEF/QEF/OPCF43)||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Waive the drivers's right to claim glass breakage (SEF13C)||Optional||Optional|
|Pay a deductible if your car catches fire or is stolen (SEF40)||Optional|
|Emergency roadside assistance||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
The following data is taken from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the General Insurance Statistical Agency (GISA), and the Groupement des assureurs automobiles (GAA) provincial comparison report.
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$1,063||$1,088||$1,114||$1,132||$1,168||$1,229||$1,251|
|Prince Edward Island||$759||$754||$773||$796||$816||$864||$885|
Historical data not available for British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan for certain years.
British Columbia (ICBC only)- ICBC Annual Report.
Manitoba - MPI Annual Report, private insurers
Saskatchewan- IBC calculation with data from SGI, SAF, and private insurers. SK premiums are a proxy per policy for all vehicles
There isn't one company you can go to for cheap car insurance.
Finding cheap car insurance is a set of actions.
Chief among them is comparing car insurance quotes. It’s recommended by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, a federal watchdog whose mandate includes protecting consumers' rights.
It’s also a tactic that many consumers forget to try.
You can compare quotes for free in a few minutes on InsuranceHotline.com, or you can approach a property and casualty insurance broker.
Shopping the market before making a commitment slashes hundreds of dollars from your annual expenses.
Another effective way to immediately reduce your car insurance premium is to reduce your coverage.
However, your vehicle might not need insurance for physical damage – it could be cheaper to purchase or repair the car out of pocket.
Reducing the number of kilometres driven annually will also help lower your insurance costs. If you know you drive more or less 10,000 km per year, usage-based insurance (UBI) might be an option.
This new product allows you to buy insurance for a set number of kilometres and lets you pay for every additional 1,000 km you log.
Another tactic that doesn't yield immediate savings but is a surefire way to reduce your expenses in the long run? Make sure you don't get any driving convictions or file an insurance claim on your car insurance policy.
All insurance companies will reward policyholders with a track record of good driving with their best rates. This usually takes a few years to build.
A medium-term solution could be to sign up for a telematics program.
Telematics allows an insurance company to monitor your driving behaviour through a device plugged into your car's onboard diagnostics port or an app.
You'll spend less if you pay your annual premium upfront at renewal time. It usually amounts to a 7% discount.
Insurance companies tack on a small administrative fee on your monthly bill. By paying all at once, the company saves on expenses to process the bill, send it out, complete the transaction, and more.
The other benefit of paying upfront is eliminating the possibility of being late or missing a monthly payment.
Missing a payment may result in a late fee and cause your insurance company to cancel your coverage. Having that in your insurance history is a red flag to other insurers and will result in a higher premium.
It depends. Older vehicles, even models just a few years old, can be cheaper to insure because they cost less to repair and replace. New vehicles tend to be built with modern features that are expensive to replace. However, the tradeoff is that newer vehicles are often safer, reducing your rate. If you’re looking to save money, it helps to purchase an older or used vehicle as the insurance is often cheaper on these vehicles. Before purchasing a vehicle, try running a few different quotes with a few different vehicle options to determine which one would cost the least to insure.
Third-party liability insurance is a mandatory component of car insurance policies across Canada. It protects drivers in the event a claim is filed against them for injuries or death caused to another person involved in a collision, or damages to a vehicle obtained in an accident, up to the amount of the coverage, including settlement claims.
The minimum mandatory amount varies by province, but most insurers recommend that drivers increase their liability insurance if they can. Most insurers provide coverage up to at least $2 million.
Despite its name, no-fault insurance does not mean no one is at fault. Instead, it means that each driver goes through their own insurance provider regardless of who is at fault. Ontario is an example of a province that operates under a no-fault insurance system.
It’s interesting to note that the police investigations and insurance companies have different methods for determining fault in an accident and are unrelated to each other. Insurance companies may find you partially at fault in an accident, for example, even in the event the police determine another driver is to blame. This is because multiple things are taken into consideration when determining fault at an insurance level. It is a common misconception that if you are not given a ticket by the police, then you are not at fault for the accident. Your insurer may find otherwise, and you can be found at-fault, partially at-fault, or not at-fault for a collision.
Police will investigate collisions and charge drivers under their provincial highway acts as well as the Criminal Code of Canada. If found guilty, this can have a significant impact on your insurance rates and depending on the severity of the crime, could result in the cancellation of your policy altogether.