Auto insurance can be extremely confusing. With strange terms and odd definitions, it is easy to misunderstand what you are buying. If you are looking for insurance, got into an accident or simply want to get informed, then you are at the right place. I have created a simplified look at auto insurance and what affects your premium.
Full Coverage or Liability?
Upon contacting a broker for a quote (approximate insurance price), you will be asked whether you want full coverage or just liability. Liability insurance is mandatory in Canada while full coverage is optional unless you have a lien on your car. Liability insurance exists to protect you in case you injure or cause damage to a third party. For example: If you hit a pedestrian, you are liable for his or her injuries and you can be sued. If you hit another car and cause damage to their vehicle, you must pay for that loss. With liability insurance, you are covered for these incidents. For a list of examples please click here.
Full coverage is coverage for your own vehicle when you are at fault. If you accidentally hit another car and your car was damaged, your insurance will cover the cost subject to a deductible. Generally, when purchasing a new car, it is advisable to purchase full coverage because the costs to fix a new car will be much higher than an older, used model.
If you choose full coverage, you then have the option to play with your deductible. A deductible is the portion of the loss which you pay. An example would be: You get into an accident with your new Honda and damages to your car are $12,500 with a $1000 deductible. You will receive $11,500 for your loss. The reason insurance companies do this is to avoid payouts for small claims.
You have a choice to buy a large deductible or a smaller one. A higher deductible means you will be paying a smaller premium (insurance rate). Standard deductibles are $0, $500, $1000 and $1500. So a $500 deductible will mean you pay less if a claim were to occur but your annual premium will be larger.
Principal and Occasional Drivers
Every car insured must have a principal driver. If there are three cars in the household and three drivers, each driver will need to be a principal driver. If in the same home, there are four drivers, only then can one of them be an occasional driver. Young principal drivers are generally much more expensive than older, more experienced drivers. Insurance drops a significant amount when the driver turns 25 years old.
Rating is the process that insurance companies use to generate your premium. Automobile rates are based on a few factors: your postal code, the vehicle you drive, how many kilometers you drive to work et cetera. Rates are based on past statistics. So if it’s proven that Honda Civics had the most accidents in the past, they will be charged a higher premium.
Claims and Convictions
Unfortunately your past accidents and tickets will increase your insurance premium. Tickets will stop having an effect after three years from the date it was paid. Accidents will take six years. If the driver has many claims (accidents) and convictions (tickets), many insurers may decline to accept them. This driver will then need to apply to a high-risk insurer who will charge a large amount and will ask for a large down payment.
If a lawsuit arising from your accident was created against you, your insurance company will represent you in court and pay your legal fees. Do not assume guilt in an accident. Do not say you will pay for their loss, if you do, you will no longer be represented by your insurer.
Keep this information in mind when you decide to shop around for insurance. Insurance doesn’t exist just to protect you, it’s for those who you share the road with. It gives people a second chance if they hit someone or are hit.
-If you use your vehicle for your own business or are a contractor and use it to drive to clients homes, you will require a Commercial Auto Policy. Your personal policy will not cover you correctly.
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