Drivers across the country can expect to see higher auto insurance premiums come renewal time. Early reports indicate that auto insurance rates are anticipated to increase nationwide by an average of five per cent in 2018, with provinces such as Ontario and Alberta potentially seeing even greater premium increases.
Numerous insurance companies thus far, including Aviva Canada, RSA Canada, Intact and Economical Insurance, have indicated they will be increasing, or are looking to increase, their rates this year.
The cost of claims is greater than the premiums coming in
With combined ratios often exceeding 100 per cent, many insurance companies are reporting that essentially, they are paying out more to administer auto insurance claims than drivers are paying in premiums.
Drivers are right to ask how this can be, when despite provincial vows to lower premiums in provinces such as Ontario, many drivers have not received these benefits. There are numerous factors, however, that are driving rates up.
"As an industry we have been trying to hold back on price increases, but there comes a point where so much pressure builds up in the system that you have to respond," said Martin Thompson, president and CEO of RSA Canada and reported by Canadian Underwriter.
With the response being higher rates, what exactly is going on? Almost uniformly, the answer lies in the following three reasons:
1. Increasing Cost of Repair
Thompson noted the cost of repairing vehicles as one of the biggest contributing factors. Today’s cars come equipped with modern technology and cutting-edge, specialized features, which can result in repairs that require thousands of dollars even in the most minor of collisions.
"As we see more technology being implemented into vehicles, we are seeing quite significant inflationary pressure on the cost of repair," he said, and it’s a sentiment that has been echoed by a variety of other insurance providers.
2. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is also said to have contributed to an increase in claims and growing payouts, despite the many deterrents in place to encourage drivers to remain focused when behind the wheel.
"We have seen a trend of increasing frequency [of collisions] which we [attribute] in large part to distracted driving," Thompson added.
It’s an opinion shared by Aviva Canada’s Greg Somerville. In a February interview with Canadian Underwriter he also said that distracted driving is a significant factor driving up claims costs. Collisions are resulting in more damages, he suggests, because drivers are not braking in time, if at all, to avoid a collision.
3. Auto Insurance Fraud
Then there’s the issue of car insurance fraud. Reports indicate that auto insurance fraud costs Canadians a conservative $2 billion annually. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) estimates fraud costs Ontario drivers specifically $236 each in premiums.
"Auto insurance fraud is an organized big business, largely unknown to consumers, that siphons resources away from our health care system, ties up our emergency services and courts, and drives up insurance costs," said Dan Service, National Director of Investigative Services at the IBC.
To combat Ontario’s high auto insurance rates and levels of fraud, the province introduced the Fair Auto Insurance Plan in December. This includes launching the province’s first Serious Fraud Office, which should open this spring. "The office will use an integrated and dedicated approach to combat serious fraud, with a focus on auto insurance fraud, which has been identified as one of the factors contributing to higher premiums," a press release said.
How to Fight the Hike and Reduce Your Car Insurance Rates
As a driver, there are many things you can do to save money on your auto insurance, despite the prospect of a rate hike.
- Compare quotes—We list this first because it’s the easiest way to save. Compare auto insurance rates from more than 30 of Canada’s most trusted providers in one step using InsuranceHotline.com. In 2017, drivers saved an average of $450 off their auto insurance premiums after comparing car insurance quotes with us.
- Go for discounts—Discounts are a great way to lower your auto insurance rate, and every insurer offers them. Ask yours for a list of their discounts as there may be opportunities to save money that you didn’t know existed, or that they didn’t know to offer you. For example, does your provider know you have winter tires or belong to a roadside assistance program? A quick chat with your insurer can help ensure you’re getting all the discounts your eligible to receive.
- Consider Usage-Based Insurance—If you’re open to installing a UBI device in your vehicle you could save up to 25 per cent on your premiums.
With the likelihood of higher insurance rates on the horizon, make sure you compare quotes with InsuranceHotline.com. Avoid those pesky hikes and find out how much you can save when you lock in your auto insurance rate for the upcoming year.