Standard car insurance covers the driver, passengers and any pedestrians involved in an accident with the car. Additional coverage can cover any damage to the vehicle.
It is wise to familiarize yourself with the types of car insurance so you know what you are buying Although car insurance varies from province to province, there are two types of mandatory coverage across Canada:
- Third party liability insurance. It pays you for damage to other people’s property—for example, if you hit another car or someone’s fence. It also pays for injuries to others in the accident and for legal defense costs if you are sued after the accident. Minimum coverage varies between provinces (for example, the minimum is $500,000 in Nova Scotia but $200,000 in Ontario) and you can choose the minimum or higher amount required to legally drive in your province.
- Accident benefits. It pays for medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses and financial compensation, including income replacement if you are injured in a collision. It also covers funeral expenses and payments to your survivors if you are killed in an accident. This coverage is mandatory across Canada except Newfoundland and Labrador.
Your policy may include the following:
- Collision or upset coverage. This coverage is for the cost of repairing damage to your vehicle after a collision with another vehicle or if you hit another object, such as a guardrail.
- Comprehensive insurance. This coverage pays for theft and damage caused by fire, hail, flood, vandalism, falling objects and animal injuries – for example if you hit a deer.
- Specific Hazards: This coverage pays for certain perils listed on your policy, including: fire, theft or attempted theft, lightning, hail, rising water, earthquake, storm, an explosion, riot or civil disobedience, the crash or forced landing of an aircraft or a part thereof. . aircraft, and the carriage of a vehicle on land or water, and the stranding, sinking, burning, derailment or collision of any form of conveyance.
- All hazards: This is the most comprehensive (and expensive) coverage because it combines collision or breakdown and comprehensive coverage. It also covers loss or damage if someone who lives with you or someone who works for you steals your car.
- Direct Compensatory Property Damage (DCPD). With DCPD coverage, your insurance company pays for repairs to your vehicle when you were not at fault for the collision. It is mandatory in Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Quebec and Alberta.
- Uninsured Automobiles: This coverage protects you (and your family) if you are struck and injured or killed by the driver or an uninsured motorist. It also protects you if you are hit by an uninsured motorist while riding or walking and covers damage to your vehicle caused by an identified uninsured motorist.
Optional coverage (also known as endorsements or riders) includes:
- Loss of use coverage pays for a replacement vehicle (or an alternative form of transportation, such as taxi or bus fare) while your vehicle is being repaired. In Ontario it is known as OPCF (Ontario Policy Change Form) 20 and in Alberta it is known as SEF (Standard Endorsement Form) 20.
- Accident Waiver/Forgiveness (OPCF 39) protects your premium from going up when you have your first at-fault collision.
- Liability for damage to non-owned vehicles (OPCF 27 or SEF 27) extends coverage to a borrowed vehicle, whether a friend’s or a rental.
It is a good idea to shop for car insurance before you buy a car. You can’t drive your new car from the dealer without insurance. You will need proof of insurance before taking the car home
Additionally, it’s smart to budget for insurance costs, including your loan payments and car maintenance costs. Many factors affect what you’ll pay for insurance, with the type of car you drive playing a role, so it’s a good idea to have an idea of the most and least expensive cars to insure before you close the deal.
The Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) assesses how much and how likely a particular vehicle is to be involved in a claim. Using that data, the Insurance Bureau of Canada publishes an annual edition of “How Cars Measure Up” that analyzes the number of collisions and costs, comprehensive, DCPD and accident benefit claims statistics for Canada’s most popular car models.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Have a make and model in mind. During the car shopping process, you’ve probably identified what type of car you’re interested in. For example, you want a new Toyota Camry or you’re interested in checking out a used Honda Civic. An insurance agent can give you quotes for several models, so you can budget accordingly.
- Understand what type of coverage you need. Each province has its own mandatory insurance requirements, but you can also opt for higher coverage or additional endorsements. And if you’re taking out a car loan or lease, your lender or leasing agent will likely require collision and comprehensive insurance.
- Compare quotes from multiple car insurance companies. An independent insurance agent or online car insurance comparison website is an effective way to price shop. Rates vary considerably between insurers, so you may want more than one or two quotes. Be sure to compare quotes for the exact same coverage level to get an apples-to-apples comparison.
Then you can ask your insurance agent to set up a policy. If you have the car sorted and know the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), this part is a breeze. You can have your policy ready before reaching the dealership. If you don’t have a VIN yet, ask if the agent can set up a policy with the information you have, such as the driver in your household and the address where you will garage the car. Once you have decided on the car, call the agent with the VIN to complete the car insurance policy purchase.