As with every province in Canada, all vehicles using Ontario’s roads must carry insurance meeting minimum standards. The consumer market is served by the private insurance industry although it is subject to heavy regulation. Auto insurance providers retain plenty of control, as long as they declare rates and underwriting practices to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the body that oversees the insurance market. Once an insurer has approval for its procedures from the FSCO, it must follow these to the letter.
The car insurance consumer in Ontario retains choice within a competitive market. Even though Ontario has some of the highest insurance prices in Canada, a motorist can find hundreds of dollars difference between comparable auto policies between competing insurers. Comparing quotes between insurance companies remains the best way to find affordable prices as well as appropriate coverage.
Driving without insurance carries fines for the vehicle owner. These range from $5,000 to $50,000. Cars can also be impounded and driver’s licenses may be suspended, depending on the circumstances.
A motorist purchases insurance through one of three sources in the province. Insurance agents work directly for an insurance company and represent only that company’s products. Insurance brokers represent several insurance companies and offer a limited level of comparison shopping for their customers. Finally, direct writers are insurance companies that deal directly with motorists. In today’s insurance market, direct writers frequently distribute insurance through online sales.
Ontario has come a long way from its origins based around water travel. Two water routes defined the province early in its existence. Both originated near Montreal. The northern route followed the Ottawa River west through present-day North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and beyond. Originally travelled by fur traders, many waterways along this route later carried timber.
The southern route followed the St. Lawrence River into Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Travel along this route supported both European settlers and United Empire Loyalists. These bodies of water later formed the naval routes during the War of 1812.
As modern society turned to cars, the Northern route fell from favour and the McDonald-Cartier Freeway, Highway 401, became the transportation spine of the province. Since the completion of the 401, other controlled access highways followed. The Queen Elizabeth Way connected Toronto to Buffalo in New York State. Other roads in the 400-series highways grew from local traffic needs. Highway 400 emerged as the main north-south route out of Toronto, with others, such as the 404 and 410, supporting suburban commuter traffic. Today, the 401 remains the busiest highway in Ontario, the busiest highway in North America and therefore one of the busiest highways in the world.
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation oversees roads, rail and anything that moves people in the province. The MTO provides many resources for motorists in the province. Given that Ontario is a place with extreme weather between seasons and with densely populated regions in the southern parts of the province, the MTO supports motorists with information on road conditions and traffic flow.
- Winter Road Conditions report on current and changing road conditions due to snow and inclement winter weather.
- Traveller’s Road Information reports both scheduled and unscheduled road closures due to construction and repairs.
- Interactive Highway Maps and Traffic cameras for various locations through the province are also provided by the MTO. This page also contains links to transit systems and provincially operated ferries in the province.
The Ontario Highway Traffic Act holds the laws that govern vehicular traffic in the province. First issued in 1923 to deal with the increase in motorized vehicle traffic and the problems that these created, the Highway Traffic Act covers licensing, registration and operation of motor vehicles. Traffic laws, vehicle classifications and other transportation-related legislation is contained within the Act. In 2009, the latest revision added laws covering the use of cell phones in vehicles.
- Given Ontario’s close proximity to Detroit, the hotbed of early automobile manufacturing, it’s no surprise that the Canadian car industry developed here first. A Canadian consortium bought the rights to manufacture Fords in Canada. The first Ford Motor Company of Canada factory opened in 1904 in Walkerville, Ontario. Its first Model T hit the roads in 1908. Contrary to popular perception, Henry Ford was not integral in the Canadian Ford plant, though he did maintain a minority share of stock.
- Car licence plates are older than an Ontario Model T. The province began licensing cars in 1903. These new vehicles were considered so dangerous compared with horse-drawn transportation that the government felt the general public needed protection.
- Canada’s first drive-in theatre opened in Stoney Creek in 1946 with capacity for 750 cars. In the 1970s, large drive-in properties near urban centres were bought up and the mobile theatres weren’t replaced. While drive-ins remain, these are few and far between.
- The Trans-Canada Highway officially opened in 1962, though in reality it wasn’t completed until 1971. The Ontario section is made up of Highways 17 and 417. Stretching from the Manitoba border, 50 km west of Kenora, to the Quebec border at East Hawkesbury, the TCH covers 2,180 km across the province.
Where you live in Ontario has a big effect on the price you pay for auto insurance. While the average annual rate for a driver with a clean record is about $1,600 annually, prices range from around $1,000 in the Kingston and Belleville area to over $2,000 in the cities of Brampton and Vaughan, north of Toronto.
The provincial government requires a minimum amount of insurance that most motorists enhance with optional coverage. There are a wide range of optional insurance products and services on offer from most companies. Any driver can customize their policy to meet their own particular needs.
The best way to find the right coverage at the lowest rates requires aggressive comparison shopping, since over 100 companies sell car insurance in the province.
Perhaps the best way to thoroughly shop is through Ratelab’s car insurance calculator. With dozens of insurance industry partners, Ratelab takes your car insurance requirements and finds the best match for products and price. The service costs nothing, and you’re under no obligation. The premium estimates you receive give you the most affordable options upon which to finalize your policy.
|Year||Average Auto Insurance Policy Price in Ontario*|
*2007-2009 Rates Adapted from “The Personal Cost and Affordability of Auto Insurance in Canada”, Fraser Institute (2011)
|Company||Ranking based on a 1000 point scale|
|Ontario Regional Average||753|
Ontario works under a government regulated private insurance system. It’s one of the most regulated insurance markets in the country, a factor that contributes to the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Each insurance company submits operating procedures to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which oversees the auto insurance market. When these procedures are approved by the FSCO, they are binding, which means the insurance company must follow them to the letter. They cannot arbitrarily change procedures without first gaining FSCO approval.
Every insurer uses their own methods to calculate premiums. Statistical and personal data are analyzed and each policyholder represents a blend of this data. This creates the risk factor used for the policyholder, and their auto insurance premium stems from this risk factor. Statistical data used in Ontario includes: a driver’s age; driving experience; postal code of home residence; and make, model and year of car. Personal information that impacts premiums include; driving record; insurance claims history and how the car is used, including daily and annual kilometers.
This risk base applies to minimum mandatory insurance coverage as required by the government. Every car on Ontario’s roads is required to have a minimum level of insurance, or the driver/owner of the vehicle could face fines from $5,000 to $50,000. Minimum mandatory coverage includes premiums covering four basic sections. Third party liability coverage in the amount of $200,000 protects the driver against lawsuits arising from at fault accidents. Accident benefits pay for medical and rehabilitation costs attributable to an accident for the driver and vehicle occupants. Direct Compensation-Property Damage coverage pays losses to a driver back directly by their own insurer, in the case of specific types of accidents. Uninsured/unidentified motorist coverage protects against incidents where the other driver is uninsured, or in the case of a hit and run accident, where the other driver is unknown. Additional optional coverage and increases on mandatory minimum coverage is available also.
Because Ontario has a competitive private auto insurance market, the price for one driver’s policy may change drastically between insurance companies. Each company has their own method of calculating driver risk, as well as interpreting statistical risk data. An insurance company may also target a select segment of the auto insurance market, offering incentives, promotions, packages and discounts to attract certain segments of the insurance-buying market.
This presents both opportunities and challenges for the auto insurance consumer. The best rate is out there, but the only way to find it is through aggressive comparison shopping. There are over 100 companies underwriting car insurance in Ontario, and not all of them issue policies in all areas. Contacting 100 companies isn’t something most people have the time to do.
Brokers represent a number of companies, and so they can make the search somewhat easier. One drawback, however, is that two brokers may have some overlap. That is, each may represent several insurers in common. Brokers may favour certain companies also, which may or may not be in your best interests.
A new tool in the car insurance price war is available right here at Ratelab. It’s called a car insurance calculator. You start by entering your home postal code on the Ratelab page. Continue filling out your personal data and car insurance needs, and the calculator will search through dozens of auto insurance providers online, behind the scenes. You’ll be presented with quotes from the lowest cost insurance companies that meet the features and coverage that you want. Armed with the best deals, you’ll know where to start to make your smartest car insurance purchase.
There is no one size fits all car insurance product in Ontario. Every car insurance provider has a unique way to calculate car insurance premiums, so no two companies may provide precisely the same rate for the same policy. On top of that, there are many options a car insurance consumer can choose. Insurance companies also offer discounts and packages that further affect the final price of an auto insurance premium. Here are some of the factors that can affect the cost of a car insurance policy.
- Age and gender of the driver(s)
- Home postal code
- Personal driving record
- Insurance claims history
- The year, make and model of the insured vehicle
- How the vehicle is driven. For example, daily to work, pleasure use only, etc.
- Number of kilometers driven, daily, annually
Some of these factors depend on the drivers of the vehicles, while others are based on statistical data. For example, the driver’s postal code connects their premiums with the record of accidents in the area as well as the average cost of claims. While neither of these may have anything to do with an individual driver, the statistical possibility of an incident is assigned by the insurance company.
The government of Ontario requires a minimum amount of insurance on every car using provincial roads. Among the minimum mandatory provisions is third party liability insurance in the amount of $200,000. This protects a driver against lawsuits stemming from at fault accidents. However, settlements for serious accidents can easily exceed this amount, so it’s common for drivers to extend coverage to $500,000, $1 million or more. This adds to the cost of basic insurance. Similar extensions can be chosen for other coverage classes as well. Optional coverage and deductible limits will also affect the final amount of an auto insurance policy.
Limits and deductibles can be used to customize coverage and adjust premium pricing of auto insurance policies.
Limits are the caps in dollar value that an insurance company has to pay in the case of an accident settlement. For example, mandatory auto insurance coverage requires $200,000 of third-party liability coverage. If a lawsuit arises from an accident where a driver is at fault, the insurance company will pay up to $200,000 in costs arising from the lawsuit. If the settlement works out to be $300,000, the insurance company still only pays $200,000. The at-fault driver remains responsible for the additional $100,000.
Since this amount is more than the average driver can pay, extended coverage is necessary to protect drivers against such an event. Most drivers in Ontario opt for extended coverage by purchasing additional insurance under their policy. This purchase adds to the total premium.
Deductibles, on the other hand, are an amount the insured driver pays in the event of an accident or loss. Deductibles apply to the optional insurance classes of collision and comprehensive coverage. When a driver carries a policy with a $300 deductible, in the event of a claim, the driver pays the first $300 of costs for repairs or replacements. The insurance company then pays the balance of costs. A driver with a deductible of $1,000 pays that amount before the insurance company pays out.
Choosing a low deductible is more expensive in terms of an insurance policy. Since the insurance company accepts more risk, the driver’s premiums are higher. By assuming more risk with a higher deductible, the driver benefits from lower premiums, although they will be responsible for paying more to repair or replace a car after an incident.
In short, yes, someone else driving your car is probably covered under terms of your auto insurance policy. However, that’s assuming that it’s casual, occasional use. For example, if your neighbour borrows your car to make a quick run to the corner store, no problem. Your policy will cover your neighbour. If the same neighbour borrows your car every Friday at 4:30 to go grocery shopping, that’s regular use, and it must be reported with your insurance company.
Your neighbour can still be covered under your policy, but they will need to be named as an occasional driver on your policy. Their demographics and insurance history may now have an effect on your Ontario car insurance premiums.
The same holds true for family also. If your spouse has their own vehicle but occasionally uses yours, perhaps because it’s at the end of the driveway, your car’s policy covers your spouse. If they drive your car to an evening class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they will need to be listed drivers on your policy.
If a regular driver situation is discovered in the aftermath of a collision or other incident, and the insurance company was not informed of this arrangement, they may withhold payment on claims on the basis that you misrepresented how your car is being used.
All scenarios assume that the other person using your car is fully licensed and permitted to drive in Ontario and that your current insurance coverage is valid. The driver borrowing your car should know where the insurance and ownership documents are in the car, as it’s the driver’s responsibility to present these when asked by a police officer. The owner of the car is also responsible for how the vehicle is being used, even if they are not in the car while it’s being driven by someone else.
Drivers in Ontario pay the highest rates compared to any other part of Canada. Congestion, poor roads and high claims costs add to tight government regulations to create high costs. Car insurance fraud is thought to be another contributor to high rates, adding over $1.5 billion in claims annually. As of 2015, on average, drivers pay about $1,878 annually for auto insurance. This average doesn’t apply on a local basis. Drivers in eastern Ontario, around Kingston and Belleville, enjoy the lowest average, around $1,100 annually. The north and northwest suburbs of Toronto experience the highest rates, around $2,400 annually.
Any driver in Ontario must have valid car insurance that meets minimum standards set by the provincial government. Insurance agents and brokers cannot sell less than the minimum amount. There are also upgrades to this coverage and additional features that can be added to enhance and customize your policy. Check with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the insurance industry overseer, to know more about Ontario car insurance.
Basics of car Insurance in Ontario
Like all other provinces in Canada, it is mandated by law that all drivers carry a minimum car insurance in third-party liability coverage as well as accident benefits coverage. Beyond this minimum, you can choose to add other optional coverages including collision and comprehensive. The limited third-party liability provides coverage for an insured Ontario driver in the event of an accident that results in property damage, injury or even death. Insured drivers in Ontario have the option of buying additional coverage based on their specific needs.
No-Fault Insurance in Ontario
In a traditional system, the insurance company of the driver at fault will pay the claim for their insured party as well as for the other party because their driver is at fault.Whereas in a no-fault system regardless of who was at fault, your insurance company will be the one to pay your claim while the claim of the other party will also be paid by their insurance company. This system makes it possible for claims to be paid as soon as possible without having to go through the rigors of fault determination. Your insurance provider will still increase your premium if you are found to be at fault.
Ontario’s Fault Determination Rules
The process of Fault determination in Ontario is simple and direct. The set of rules has been put in place to reduce the time involved in determining who was at fault and to avert disagreements among drivers and insurance companies so that the process is not delayed. The rule applies in Ontario regardless of the road or weather conditions, because drivers are expected to adjust their driving to suit the road conditions to avoid accidents. The fault is assigned between on a scale from 0% to 100%, but may also be shared equally in some instances. Fault determination may be appealed if there is a need, but in most cases it is not.
The Private Insurance System
Ontario has a private insurance system, which means you are allowed to compare quotes from different insurance companies to find the best deal. The system makes it possible for drivers in Ontario to get cheap and affordable car insurance quotes because the prices are competitive. Insurance companies decide their rates, so car insurance quotes from one insurance company may differ significantly from another.
Compulsory Minimum Third Party Liability
Drivers must have $200,000 worth of coverage for any accident. If a claim involves both bodily injury and property damage more than this amount, payment for property damage will be capped at $10,000.
Policies in Ontario are required to cover up to $3,500 for a minor injury or up to $50,000 per person for non-minor and non-catastrophic injuries for up to ten years. For catastrophic injuries,$1 million in coverage is required. Attendant care is also necessary up to $36,000 for non-minor and non-catastrophic injuries while $1 million is required for catastrophic injuries.
Funeral Expense Benefits
If an accident results in death, the car insurance of the driver must cover the funeral expenses of the person killed. The amount allocated for this expense is $6,000.
Disability Income Benefits
Insurance must also replace 70% of gross wages to a maximum of $400 per week or $185 per week for 104 or more weeks. During the first seven days, no payments are made. A non-earner benefit is also included in the mandate at a rate of $185 per week for 104 weeks. There is a 26-week wait period and a limit of two years. If the person is still disabled after 104 weeks, the benefit increases to $320 per week. Certain exclusions apply.
If the victim dies within 180 days of the accident, the spouse is awarded $25,000, minimum. Additionally, each surviving dependent is allowed $10,000. If the victim was living with the parents, $10,000 goes to each parent or guardian.
Right to Sue for Pain & Suffering
If the injury meets a severity test, a lawsuit is allowed if the person dies or sustains permanent and serious disfigurement. They may also sue if there is impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function. After damages are assessed, $30,000 is deducted.
Right to Sue for Economic Loss in No-Fault Benefits
Income replacement awarded above the no-fault benefit is based on the net income after deductions for income tax. Injured parties may sue for 70% of net income loss before trial or 100% of gross income after the trial.
Minimum mandatory coverage protects people and damage that you cause to other people’s property. It doesn’t protect your car from loss or damage, except in some circumstances where the other driver is fully at fault. “Fault” for insurance purposes is different than fault assigned by a police officer, and there’s no guarantee that these will coincide. This creates the need for collision and comprehensive insurance to protect you from financial loss in case of an accident or theft.
Protects against loss due to an accident. Depending on the coverage level and options you choose, this could include not only repairs, but car rental coverage while your car is in the shop. You can even protect a new car against depreciation for the first few years of its life.
Both collision and comprehensive insurance are subject to deductibles. Your deductible amount is what you pay as part of an insurance claim before the insurance company contributes. A low deductible costs more in premiums, while a high deductible lowers your cost.
Optional insurance add-ons are called endorsements or riders. These permit you to customise your policy with features that are important to you. Someone who rents cars frequently may add a non-owned vehicle endorsement, if it’s not already part of a package offered by their insurer. Different insurance companies may have varying optional endorsements and feature packages.
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