Ontario law requires that every driver carry a minimum amount of car insurance to provide financial protection for everyone. The private insurance system in Ontario means that you have plenty of companies to choose from in order the get the coverage you need at the best price. Car insurance in Ontario can be pricey, so research and price comparison using a car insurance calculator are vital to getting a good deal on your policy.
Mandatory Insurance Coverage and the Law
Ontario law protects everyone on the road by mandating a minimum standard auto insurance policy. This policy includes the following coverage:
- $200,000 in third-party liability, to pay for bodily injury and property damage caused in an accident where you are found to be at fault
- Accident Benefits coverage to pay for income replacement, medical expenses, rehabilitation, death benefits, and more
- Direct-Compensation Property Damage coverage, which will pay for damage to your car under certain conditions – the accident must take place in Ontario, there must be another driver involved, and the other driver must be insured in Ontario or with a company that has agreed to offer this coverage
- Uninsured Automobile Coverage, which pays for injuries and damage caused by a driver who is uninsured or who leaves the scene of an accident
Drivers who fail to carry this minimum insurance policy can be strictly penalized. Fines in Ontario for failure to carry insurance can range from $5000 all the way up to $50,000. Additionally, if you don’t have insurance you could be denied certain accident benefits and the right to sue even when you are not at fault.
Ontario uses a set of fault determination rules to decide who is at fault in any particular accident. Fault can fall on a spectrum by percentage – it could be 100% one person’s fault, 50-50 shared fault, or any other range of shared fault. How accident benefits are provided depends on who is found at fault.
Adding Optional Coverage
One of the things a car insurance calculator can help you do is figure out which options you should add and how much it will cost to create a balanced policy.
Many Ontario drivers choose to increase their liability limits as the first option on a policy. This is the best way to protect yourself from the potentially high cost of an accident. Accident benefits can also be increased to provide extra coverage.
In addition to increasing the required coverage, there are a number of options you can select for additional protection. These include:
- Collision coverage, which will pay for damage to your vehicle in an accident where you are at fault, and your Direct-Compensation Property Damage does not apply. This coverage is generally required if you have a loan on your vehicle
- Comprehensive coverage, which pays for loss or damage that results from anything that is not an accident – theft, vandalism, and fire can all fall under this coverage. This coverage is also generally required by your lienholder
- All Perils Coverage, which combines the two coverage options above in one
- Rental Car Coverage, Loss of Use, Waiver of Depreciation, and many other coverage options that can vary based on the insurance company
Creating the right policy requires striking a balance between your most likely needs and the premium you can afford to pay.
Car Insurance Rates in Ontario
Ontario has historically faced the highest insurance rates in Canada, and by a wide margin at that. Over the past few years the government has passed legislation aimed at bringing those rates down, which has had some success.
The legislation anticipated a drop of 15% on average by August of 2015, but the reduction reached only just over 6%. While there’s still work to do on the insurance fraud problems that have plagued Ontario and driven up rates, individual insurance customers can shop around for a better rate.
Factors that can go into determining insurance rates in Ontario include:
- Age – younger drivers are considered a higher risk
- Driving experience
- The type of car you drive, including year, make, and model
- How many kilometers you drive annually, as well as how far you commute each day
- Where you live, based on postal code, as some areas have higher risk levels than others
- Your driving record, including traffic tickets and any at-fault accidents
Your rates are also determined by the amount of coverage you choose and your deductible. Higher coverage levels will cost more, but a higher deductible can bring rates down.
The Financial Services Commission must approve rates in Ontario, and while there are caps on maximum rates, insurance companies can still choose their own rates within certain parameters. That means the competitive nature of car insurance in Ontario can help you as a driver to get a better deal on your policy.
Cars and Drivers in Ontario
Popular cars in Ontario tend to fall in line with the cars that are best selling across Canada. For passenger cars, the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra top the list, while Ford F-series trucks are tops for pickups.
While these cars consistently make the list of most stolen across Canada, the most stolen cars in Ontario specifically include the Acura RSX in the number one spot, along with high-end SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander and BMW X6.
According to the most recent data from 2013, Ontario falls on the lower end compared to other provinces for number of injuries and fatalities per 100,000 people, with 3.5 fatalities and 440 injuries. By comparison, the highest number of fatalities was in Saskatchewan with 12.6, and the highest number of injuries in Manitoba with 881.
The Ministry of Transportation’s report on road safety listed impaired driving as the top cause of fatal crashes – 25%. The OPP’s report points to a different top cause of fatal accidents, rating distracted driving as the most common cause.
Car Insurance Companies in Ontario
Ontario drivers have dozens of insurance companies to choose from, both large and small. Major insurance companies hold the top spots by market share in the province, with Intact in the number one spot, followed by TD Insurance and Aviva. American insurance giant State Farm holds the fourth spot.
Because there are so many players in the Ontario insurance market, a car insurance calculator can be a valuable tool for figuring out who offers the best rates and coverage for your particular needs.
When comparing rates, make sure to consider what coverage you might be giving up to get that lower premium. The cheapest car insurance isn’t always the best – rate, coverage and company reputation are all major factors that should go into making your choice.