Did you know that auto insurance in Ontario has been mandatory since 1979 ? A lot has changed since then. Back in 1979, the population of Ontario was about 8 million, while today we’re almost 14 million strong. Back then, we shopped around for insurance by picking up the phone and calling around, while today you can compare auto insurance rates from 30+ insurance providers online in a matter of minutes.
Auto insurance has also changed, with the latest auto insurance reforms taking effect June 1, 2016.
- A recent Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) survey shows that when it came time to renew, more than half (52 per cent) of Ontario drivers simply paid the new renewed premium without question, or took no action, making their renewal automatic. But, FSCO is encouraging drivers—before renewing or buying their next policy—to learn more about the reforms, ask lots of questions, and shop around for their auto insurance coverage.
What hasn’t changed in all that time however, is that insurance is a two-way contract and while Ontario’s laws require you to have auto insurance if you own a vehicle, these laws also give you rights. Compiled by the folks at FSCO the following make up what they call the Auto Insurance Consumers’ Bill of Rights.
Auto Insurance Consumers’ Bill of Rights
- You have the right to purchase auto insurance coverage. (This one may seem obvious but it’s particularly important to drivers who are considered high-risk.)
- You have the right to be treated fairly by your insurance company.
- You have the right to be given written reasons if you have been denied auto insurance.
- You have the right to keep your policy in place if you pay your premiums and meet the responsibilities of being a policyholder.
- You have the right to pay your auto insurance premium in monthly installments.
- InsuranceHotline.com tip: If you can, pay your premiums all at once rather than in monthly installments because many insurance companies charge drivers a little extra to cover the cost of administering monthly payments. If you can afford to pay the cost of your annual premium in one lump sum, you can avoid those extra fees that are tacked onto your premium.
- You have the right to keep your policy in place if you pay your premium within 30 days following one or two non-sufficient fund (NSF) situations.
- You have the right to be informed in writing if your policy is not being renewed.
- You have the right to change or cancel your insurance policy at any time.
- You have the right to remain with your insurance company even if that company no longer sells insurance through your broker.
- You have the right to know from which companies your broker received quotes and the amounts.
- You have the right to prompt and fair handling of claims.
- You have the right to reasonable repair of your damaged vehicle.
- You have the right to choose a repair shop, tow operator or vehicle rental company.
- You have the right to receive information about accident benefits.
- You have the right to dispute your insurance company’s refusal to pay benefits.
- You have the right to choose your health care provider.
- You have the right to register a complaint about your insurance company.
Of course, since insurance is a two-way contract you also have some responsibilities.
- You must insure your vehicle and retain your proof of insurance (pink slip) while driving.
- You must pay your premium in a timely fashion.
- You must give true and accurate information to your insurer and complete all forms promptly.
- You must promptly let your insurer know about any change in circumstances that could affect your insurance situation, including if you are involved in any accident.
- You must provide your insurer with updated information when requested.
- If you are claiming accident benefits, you must send your insurer a completed accident benefits package on time.
- If you are claiming accident benefits, you must attend medical examinations requested by your insurer that are reasonably necessary to evaluate your claim.
- If you receive accident benefits from your insurer, you must participate in treatment and rehabilitation, and try to get back to work.
As an auto insurance consumer, knowing your rights—and responsibilities—is the best way to ensure you’re satisfied with your coverage. And, if you’re not satisfied, FSCO can help you resolve a complaint. To learn more about the complaint resolution process, click here.
Shop around for the coverage you need
You’re required to have car insurance to drive; but what’s not required is overpaying for it. Rates often change and the company who gave you the best rate last time around may no longer offer you the best price now. Compare auto insurance rates today to see if you could spend less on the car insurance coverage you need.