When we talk about secondary driver insurance in Canada, we are usually referring to occasional or additional drivers on an insurance policy. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand the concept:
Primary vs. Secondary Drivers:
In the context of auto insurance in Canada, the terms “primary driver” and “secondary driver” (sometimes referred to as an “occasional driver”) refer to the regularity and frequency with which individuals drive a specific vehicle. Understanding the distinction between the two is important for ensuring that an auto insurance policy provides adequate coverage and that the premiums are calculated accurately. Here’s the distinction:
- Primary Driver:
- Definition: The primary driver is the individual who drives the vehicle the most frequently. In other words, it’s the person who typically uses the car more than anyone else.
- Insurance Premium: The premium for an auto insurance policy is largely based on the driving record, age, experience, and other factors of the primary driver. If the primary driver has a good driving record and a lot of experience, the premium may be lower. Conversely, if the primary driver is younger, has less experience, or has a poor driving record, the premium could be higher.
- Importance: Misrepresenting the primary driver, a practice sometimes called “fronting”, can lead to problems. For instance, if parents claim to be the primary drivers of a vehicle that is actually driven mainly by their teenager, they might face denied claims or even policy cancellation if the insurer discovers the truth.
- Secondary (or Occasional) Driver:
- Definition: A secondary or occasional driver is someone who drives the vehicle less frequently than the primary driver. This could be a spouse, a child, a roommate, or any other individual who uses the car but not as their main mode of transportation.
- Insurance Impact: Adding a secondary driver to an insurance policy can affect the premium. If the secondary driver has a good driving history, the impact might be minor. However, adding a secondary driver with a poor driving record or one who is inexperienced (like a new teenage driver) might lead to increased rates.
- Disclosure: It’s important to inform the insurance company about all regular users of the vehicle, including secondary drivers. If an occasional driver isn’t listed on the policy and gets involved in an accident, the insurance company might deny the claim.
Why Add a Secondary Driver?
There are several reasons why one might consider adding a secondary driver to an insurance policy:
- Legality and Coverage: If someone other than the primary driver will be using the vehicle on a regular or occasional basis, they should be listed on the policy to ensure proper coverage. In the event of an accident, if the driver is not listed on the policy, the insurance company might deny the claim or provide limited coverage.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing that all drivers of the vehicle are covered under the insurance policy provides peace of mind to the primary driver and vehicle owner. It helps ensure that if the secondary driver is involved in an accident, damages and liabilities will be covered as per the terms of the policy.
- Shared Vehicle Use: In households or situations where multiple individuals share the use of a vehicle, it makes sense to have all regular users listed as drivers. For instance, couples, siblings, or roommates might share a car and need coverage for all involved.
- Teaching a New Driver: If there’s a new driver in the family, such as a teenager learning to drive, adding them as a secondary driver can allow them to gain experience while being insured. It’s also an opportunity for them to start building their own insurance history and driving record.
- Temporary Situations: There might be temporary scenarios, such as a friend or relative visiting for an extended period, during which it would be practical to add them as a secondary driver, especially if they’ll be borrowing the car frequently.
- Potential Savings: Some insurance policies might offer discounts or benefits when adding secondary drivers, especially if they have a good driving record. For instance, combining multiple drivers or vehicles under one policy might qualify for multi-driver or multi-vehicle discounts.
- Transparency with the Insurer: Being upfront and transparent about who drives the vehicle can help maintain a good relationship with the insurance company. Misrepresenting the regular users of the vehicle can lead to complications in the future.
Impact on Premiums
Adding a secondary (or occasional) driver to an auto insurance policy in Canada can impact the premiums. Here’s how:
- Profile of the Secondary Driver: The most significant determinant of how the addition of a secondary driver will affect the premium is based on that driver’s profile:
- Driving Record: If the secondary driver has a history of accidents or traffic violations, this can increase the premium.
- Experience: New or young drivers, especially those under 25, often lead to higher premiums due to their perceived higher risk.
- Location: If the secondary driver lives in an area with higher accident rates or vehicle theft, it might also affect the premium.
- Driver Training: Some insurers in Canada offer discounts for young or new drivers who have completed an approved driver’s training course.
- Good Student: Some insurers offer discounts for students who maintain good grades, though this varies by company and province.
- Multi-policy or Multi-vehicle: If you have more than one policy (e.g., home and auto) with the same insurer or if you’re insuring more than one vehicle, you might qualify for discounts.
- Frequency of Use: Depending on how often the secondary driver will use the vehicle, there could be varying effects on the premium. A secondary driver who only occasionally uses the car might have a different impact compared to someone who will use it more frequently.
- Type of Coverage: If your policy has minimum coverage and you’re adding a young driver, you might consider increasing the coverage limits or adding additional coverage options. This could also affect the premium.
- Potential Increase: While adding an experienced driver with a clean driving record might result in a minimal increase, adding a less experienced driver or one with a tarnished record can lead to more substantial premium hikes.
- Communication is Key: Always discuss with your insurer about adding a secondary driver. They can provide a clear picture of the potential cost implications. Moreover, withholding information or failing to disclose an occasional driver might lead to denied claims or other complications in the future.
How much does it cost to add a secondary driver?
Here are some quotes for adding a secondary driver to an existing insurance policy in Canada, broken down by province and major city:
- Ontario – In Ontario, the cost of adding a secondary driver to an insurance policy can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the driver’s age, driving history, and location. Here are some sample monthly rates for adding a secondary driver to an existing policy in different cities:
- Toronto: Adding a secondary driver can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Ottawa: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $30 and $150 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Hamilton: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $50 and $200 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Quebec – In Quebec, the cost of adding a secondary driver to an insurance policy is typically lower than in other provinces. Here are some sample monthly rates for adding a secondary driver to an existing policy in different cities:
- Montreal: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $20 and $80 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Quebec City: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $20 and $60 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Gatineau: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $20 and $80 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Alberta – In Alberta, the cost of adding a secondary driver to an insurance policy can vary depending on factors such as the driver’s age and driving history. Here are some sample monthly rates for adding a secondary driver to an existing policy in different cities:
- Calgary: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $50 and $150 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Edmonton: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $50 and $150 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
- Red Deer: Adding a secondary driver can cost between $50 and $100 per month, depending on the driver’s characteristics and the level of coverage required.
Specifics for Canada
Auto insurance in Canada is regulated on a provincial and territorial basis, which means that the specifics of adding a secondary driver can vary depending on where you live. Here’s a brief overview of auto insurance as it pertains to adding secondary drivers, province by province:
- British Columbia:
- Insurer: Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is the primary provider.
- Secondary Driver: The experience and driving record of all listed drivers, primary and secondary, factor into the premium calculation through the “Driver Factor.”
- Crash Accountability: ICBC implemented a system where if a crash occurs, the premium increase will be based on the driver responsible, not necessarily the vehicle owner.
- Insurer: Private insurance companies.
- Secondary Driver: It’s crucial to list all regular or occasional drivers to ensure coverage. Premiums might change based on the secondary driver’s age, experience, and driving record.
- Insurer: Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
- Secondary Driver: All regular users of the vehicle should be listed. The primary driver’s record is often the main factor, but the secondary driver’s record can also influence the premium.
- Insurer: Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI).
- Secondary Driver: Similar to Saskatchewan, all regular users must be declared. Premiums can be influenced by both the primary and secondary drivers’ records.
- Insurer: Private insurance companies.
- Secondary Driver: Must declare all drivers using the vehicle. Premium adjustments are based on factors like age, driving experience, and record.
- Insurer: A hybrid system. The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) covers injury, while property damage is covered by private insurers.
- Secondary Driver: It’s crucial to notify private insurers of all regular drivers for the property damage portion of the insurance.
- New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador:
- Insurer: Private insurance companies.
- Secondary Driver: In all Atlantic provinces, you should declare all regular and occasional drivers. Premiums adjust based on the usual factors – age, record, and experience.
- Territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut):
- Insurer: Private insurance companies.
- Secondary Driver: As with other jurisdictions, it’s best to declare all drivers to ensure proper coverage and avoid complications.
For all provinces and territories:
- Not declaring a secondary driver who uses the vehicle regularly can be considered misrepresentation, which can lead to denied claims or even policy cancellations.
- It’s always advised to consult with a local insurance broker or agent to understand the specific implications and processes of adding a secondary driver in your specific region.
When considering adding a secondary driver to your auto insurance policy in Canada, here are some tips to help you navigate the process:
- Full Disclosure: Always inform your insurance provider if someone else will be driving your vehicle, even occasionally. Not doing so could lead to denied claims or policy cancellations if the insurer believes you’ve misrepresented the regular users of the vehicle.
- Understand the Impact: Before adding a secondary driver, inquire about how it might affect your premium. The driving record, age, and experience of the secondary driver can significantly influence the rate.
- Ask About Discounts: Some insurers offer discounts for various reasons:
- Drivers who have completed recognized driver training programs.
- Good student discounts for young drivers with good academic records.
- Multi-vehicle discounts if insuring more than one vehicle.
- Regular Review: Periodically review who is listed as secondary drivers on your policy. Remove anyone who no longer drives the vehicle to ensure your policy accurately reflects the regular users and potentially save on premiums.
- Build Their Record: For younger drivers, being added as a secondary driver can help them start building a driving record, which can be beneficial when they get their own policy in the future.
- Temporary Additions: If someone will be using your vehicle for a short period, like a visiting relative, ask your insurer about temporarily adding them to the policy.
- Province-Specific Regulations: Remember that insurance is regulated provincially. Ensure you’re familiar with any specific requirements or considerations in your province.
- Deductible Considerations: If your secondary driver is inexperienced or has a less-than-perfect driving record, you might want to reconsider the deductible on your policy. A higher deductible usually means a lower premium, but you’ll pay more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
- Compare Rates: If you’re considering adding a secondary driver, it might be a good time to shop around and compare insurance rates. Different companies might offer different rates for the same driver profiles.
- Maintain Open Communication: Ensure the secondary driver understands the importance of safe driving and promptly reporting any accidents or tickets. Their actions can directly impact your premiums.
- Telematics Programs: Some insurers offer telematics or usage-based insurance programs where a device is installed in the car, or an app is used to monitor driving habits. This can be a way to potentially lower premiums based on safe driving, especially for younger or less experienced drivers.
In summary, the key is to maintain open communication with your insurance provider. By keeping them informed about who’s driving and understanding the implications of any changes to your policy, you can ensure you’re adequately covered and avoid any unwanted surprises.
Who Should Be Listed As The Occasional Driver For Insurance?
An occasional driver (often referred to as a secondary driver) on an auto insurance policy is someone who drives the insured vehicle but not as frequently as the primary driver. Whether in Canada or elsewhere, understanding who should be listed as the occasional driver is crucial to ensure proper coverage and compliance with your insurance policy. Here are some guidelines to help determine who should be listed:
- Household Members: Any family members residing in the same household who have a valid driver’s license and occasionally use the vehicle should typically be listed. This includes spouses, siblings, parents, or children.
- New or Young Drivers: If you have a teenager or a new driver in your household who will be driving the vehicle, even if it’s only from time to time, they should be listed as an occasional driver. This is especially true for teenagers, as insurers often require that they be specifically listed on a policy or excluded from driving the car.
- Roommates or Housemates: If you share your residence with non-family members and they use your car occasionally, it’s prudent to list them as occasional drivers.
- Extended Use by Friends: If a friend borrows your vehicle more than just once in a blue moon (e.g., they use it every weekend or a few times a month), you might consider listing them.
- Temporary Situations: If someone, like a relative or friend, is staying with you temporarily and will be using your vehicle during their stay, it might be wise to inform your insurance company and see if they need to be added temporarily.
- Exclusions: If there’s someone you specifically do not want to cover as a driver of your vehicle (perhaps due to their poor driving record), you might need to list them as an excluded driver. This means they are not covered under any circumstances and should not drive the vehicle.
- Not Regularly Using the Car: Remember, the key term is “occasional.” If someone uses the car as frequently as (or more than) the primary driver, they may need to be listed as a primary driver themselves.
- Ask Your Insurer: If you’re in doubt about whether someone should be listed as an occasional driver, it’s always a good idea to consult with your insurance provider. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific policy and situation.