If you have a bad driving record due to an accumulation of accidents, speeding tickets, or other problems, you may think that cheap car insurance is something you’ll never enjoy. While in the short term this is probably true, you can actively address your driving habits while shopping for lower cost coverage as your record improves.
Who is Considered a Bad Driver?
You may be confused as to who is considered a bad driver. In Ontario, like other places, car insurance companies use a number of points to determine a customer’s risk factor. High-risk drivers, or bad drivers, generally pay more for insurance than good drivers because the odds of making a claim out on their policy is higher.
In some cases, an insurance company may use statistics to label a driver as bad, while in other cases it is the history of the person that earns them the dishonourable title. The age, gender, and even profession of the driver may put them in a higher risk category. Likewise, having had two at-fault accidents in the last ten years or two to three speeding tickets may also put a person in the high-risk category. Major convictions, such as those for impaired driving, may fast track a driver to high risk status even without other blemishes on their record.
What to Expect if You Have a Bad Record
While auto insurance rates significantly across Canada, high risk drivers should expect to pay more than a person of similar age and gender living in the same province. Depending on your history, your rates may be doubled or even tripled. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’re dealing with the most affordable company to begin with, since your bad driving habits will add to your monthly premium. You can use a car insurance calculator to get an idea of what premiums to expect.
If you’re considered a dangerous driver with many infractions, you should know ahead of time that many insurers won’t accept you as a client. That leaves you with little choices and gives your current insurer more freedom to simply raise your rates. Because of this, avoiding the label of dangerous driver is very important.
If you’re having a hard time finding coverage because of your driving habits, consider looking into a company that specializes in high-risk drivers. Often, specialty companies charge much higher rates than traditional car insurance carriers because their clients have run out of options.
The insurance industry as a whole can’t deny you coverage if you’re legally entitled to drive. All provinces that have private car insurance coverage have access to the Facility Association, an enterprise owned jointly by all members of the car insurance industry. It’s a last resort source for bad driving record auto insurance. While the Association is not an insurance underwriter, it works with high risk drivers and others in the residual insurance marketplace to find policies from conventional insurers. The premiums for policies arranged this way can be expensive, but in some cases, it may be the only way a driver can arrange coverage.
How to Reduce Your Premiums
You can reduce your car insurance premium by working to improve your driving and lower your risk. As your profile improves, you’ll become a more attractive client to insurers and rates will go down. It takes three years for tickets to be removed from the record and even longer for demerit points to disappear. Accidents stay on the record for up to ten years. Besides motor vehicle infractions, non-payment of auto insurance premiums will also raise risk. Those who don’t pay are less attractive for companies to take on.
Apart from changing your driving habits, there are a number of cost-saving strategies that you can try to chisel away at the price you’d pay for high risk coverage.
- Check that your coverage matches the way your vehicle is used. For example, if your car is insured for daily driving to work, you may save substantially if you change coverage to pleasure use only and switch to public transit to reduce the kilometers your car is driven.
- An older car that’s paid off and of a low blue book value may not be worth full insurance coverage. Collision and comprehensive endorsements are not required under Ontario minimum insurance provisions. If you would replace this vehicle rather than repair it in the event of an accident, then collision coverage is not required. Comprehensive insurance covers loss through non-collision events, such as theft or fire. Replacing an older vehicle yourself, rather than receiving insurance company assistance means that comprehensive coverage is redundant, and can be removed from your policy.
- Continually compare insurance prices using RateLab’s car insurance calculator as your previous high risk offenses fade into the past. There will come a time when your driving record is rehabilitated and you can be insured in the regular market again.