If you drive in Alberta, you need car insurance. And thanks to Alberta’s privatized insurance system you have a choice when it comes to your coverage as well as your insurance company. Shopping for car insurance in Alberta requires a little knowledge of how insurance works and what the law mandates, and a car insurance calculator can help you along the way as well.
Alberta Car Insurance Laws
All drivers in Alberta are required to carry an insurance policy that meets certain legal minimums.
Your insurance policy must provide liability coverage to pay for damages and injuries done to others when you are at fault in an accident. The legally required policy includes:
- $200,000 in third party liability to cover bodily injury and property damage in a single accident. Alberta law caps property damage payments at $10,000 when combined damages hit this limit.
- $50,000 per person in medical payments
- $5000 in funeral expense benefits
- Disability income benefits at 80% of gross weekly income, capped at $400 per week for up to 104 weeks, an a non-earner benefit of $135 per week for up to 26 weeks
- Death benefits that will pay $10,000 for a head of household or spouse/partner, plus additional payments for each dependent, and up to $3000 for death of a dependent relative. Grief counseling benefits of $400 area also included
Driving without insurance is a serious offence in Alberta – a first offence means a fine of at least $2500, and a second offence within one year will result in jail time.
Alberta is a no-fault system when it comes to how claims are paid out, but pain and suffering lawsuits are allowed, with specific limits.
In addition to the legal minimums, Alberta drivers can choose to add optional coverage to provide better protection.
The most common options are increased liability limits and coverage for damage to your own vehicle.
There are two options that provide coverage for your car:
- Collision coverage, which pays for damage in an accident where you are at fault
- Comprehensive coverage, which pays for damage done in a non-accident incident. This includes things like theft and vandalism
Insurance companies may offer a variety of other options you can add, including rental car coverage, roadside assistance, and more.
Getting the most out of your insurance dollar means finding the policy that gives you good coverage at a good price – cheap isn’t always better. The right policy strikes a balance between coverage and cost.
Car Insurance Rates in Alberta
Alberta insurance companies are required by law to use a rate grid that calculates the maximum premium they are allowed to charge for a particular driver. This helps prevent insurance companies from overcharging.
The grid, however, only calculates the highest possible rate – car insurance companies can still compete for your business by offering lower rates.
Some of the factors that can influence car insurance rates include:
- Age – inexperience makes young drivers more likely to have an accident
- Driving experience – how long you have been licensed
- Accidents for which you were found at fault
- Vehicle year, make, and model
- Commuting distance
- Annual kilometers driven
- Your home address – some areas are considered higher-risk for theft, vandalism, and more
Every insurance company weighs these things differently, so no two companies will have the same rate for the same driver. Additionally, all insurance companies offer discounts to bring rates down, and you may qualify for more discounts at one insurance company than at another.
Alberta has the fifth highest average car insurance rates in the country, but they come in second among provinces with a privatized insurance system, behind Ontario. Shopping around for insurance is the best way to find a good rate, and a car insurance calculator can help you do that quickly and effectively.
Cars and Drivers in Alberta
Albertans love new cars, and buy more cars than the national average, especially pickup trucks, which are very popular with Alberta drivers. Brand new cars mean higher insurance rates, and that can bring up the average cost of insurance.
Unfortunately, pickup trucks also top the list of the most stolen cars in Alberta in 2014, with 6 out of the top ten being Ford trucks. That too drives up insurance rates, not only on those models but also for everyone.
Although Alberta’s collision statistics show lower casualty rates than some other provinces, the numbers show that in 86.5 percent of 2013 collisions, the cause of the collision was driver error. In 26.6 percent of fatal collisions, unsafe speed was a factor.
As a result, Alberta increased fines for certain traffic violations in May of 2015. Among the tickets that now cost more are speeding and running a red light, two common causes of accidents – they were raised by 35%.
Alberta Car Insurance Companies
There are more than 70 companies offering car insurance in Alberta according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which gives Albertans plenty of choice.
According to the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board’s 2014 report, Intact Insurance holds the top spot among car insurers, with 20% of the market share. Wawanesa Insurance is second with 14%, and the top three is rounded out by TD Insurance at 13% of market share.
Beyond these three big companies, there are a lot of insurers large and small to choose from. Comparing rates with a car insurance calculator is a great way to narrow down your choices, but it’s important to remember that price isn’t everything. An insurance policy that doesn’t provide good coverage might be cheap, but in the event of an accident that lower coverage could spell financial disaster for you.