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HomeCar Insurance ResourcesWhy does my car insurance premium increase every year?

Car insurance premiums can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, and while they might go up some years, they may stabilize or even decrease in others. In Canada, several factors contribute to the annual changes in car insurance premiums:

  1. Accident Rates: If there’s a surge in the number of accidents in a given year, insurance payouts may increase, leading to higher premiums for policyholders.
  2. Severity of Claims: Even if the frequency of accidents stays the same, an increase in the severity or cost of claims (for instance, more total losses or higher medical expenses) can cause premiums to rise.
  3. Increased Cost of Repairs: Modern cars are equipped with advanced technology, like sensors, cameras, and computers. Repairing or replacing these technologies can be expensive, which can lead to higher claim amounts and, consequently, rising premiums.
  4. Fraud: Insurance fraud inflates the cost of insurance. Fraudulent claims, staged accidents, and inflated repair costs can make a significant impact on overall insurance costs.
  5. Natural Disasters: Events like floods, hailstorms, or wildfires can lead to a large number of claims in a short period, affecting the premium calculations for subsequent years.
  6. Economic Factors: Inflation can increase the costs associated with car repairs, medical treatments, and other expenses that insurance covers. When these costs rise, insurers may raise premiums to maintain their profitability.
  7. Regulatory Changes: In Canada, car insurance is regulated at the provincial and territorial level. Changes in regulations or the introduction of new laws can influence premium amounts. For instance, a decision by a province to reduce the maximum amount an insurer can pay out for certain injuries might lower premiums, while other regulatory changes might increase them.
  8. Reinsurance Costs: Insurance companies often buy insurance themselves to protect against significant losses. If the cost of this reinsurance goes up, those costs may be passed on to the policyholders.
  9. Company’s Financial Health: If an insurance company faces financial challenges, it might raise premiums to ensure it can cover future claims and maintain its solvency.
  10. Competition and Market Dynamics: The level of competition in the insurance market can influence premiums. In a highly competitive market, companies might lower premiums to attract customers, but if there’s less competition, there might be less incentive to do so.

It’s worth noting that while many of these factors can lead to rising premiums, they can also lead to decreases in other circumstances. For instance, if there’s a drop in the number of claims or if regulatory changes favor lower payouts, premiums might decrease.

Potential reasons, broken down by provincial considerations

Reason Why

If your car insurance has gone up and you haven’t had any recent accidents or made changes to your policy, it can be frustrating. In Canada, the regulation and pricing of auto insurance are primarily handled at the provincial and territorial level, which can lead to variations in the reasons for rate increases across the country. Here are some potential reasons, broken down by provincial considerations:

  1. British Columbia (BC):
    • ICBC, the primary insurer in BC, occasionally adjusts its rates based on its financial health, claims payouts, and other factors.
    • Changes in risk assessment can also impact rates.
    • BC has had challenges with high claims costs and fraud, which can impact rates.
  2. Alberta:
    • Alberta has seen increases in claims, especially related to natural disasters like hailstorms.
    • Legal changes, like those around injury claim payouts, can influence premiums.
  3. Saskatchewan:
    • The province’s auto insurance is primarily run through SGI. Changes in the company’s finances, claim costs, or provincial regulations can lead to rate changes.
  4. Manitoba:
    • Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is the primary provider. Rate changes can be due to the corporation’s financials, accident rates, and regulatory changes.
  5. Ontario:
    • Ontario has one of the highest car insurance rates in Canada due to high claim costs, insurance fraud, and other factors.
    • Regulatory changes, such as those related to accident benefits or injury claim payouts, can lead to rate adjustments.
  6. Quebec:
    • Quebec has a unique hybrid system where bodily injury is covered by a public plan, and property damage is covered by private insurers. Rate changes can come from either side based on claim costs or financial health.
  7. Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI):
    • Claims costs, especially injury claims, can influence rates.
    • Local regulatory changes and market dynamics play a role.
  8. Northern Territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut):
    • The small population and unique driving conditions can lead to specific rate determinants.
    • Costs related to claims, especially those from severe accidents, can have a notable impact due to the smaller insurance pool.

Common Reasons Across All Provinces and Territories:

  • Rising Repair Costs: Modern vehicles, with their advanced technologies, can be more expensive to repair.
  • Insurance Fraud: This can lead to higher costs for the insurance company, which might be passed on to policyholders.
  • Reinsurance Costs: If the cost to reinsure goes up, it might affect the rates customers see.
  • Economic Factors: Inflation, in general, can impact the cost of repairs, medical treatment, and other factors related to insurance.
  • Company’s Operating Costs and Profitability: If the insurer’s costs rise or its profitability is threatened, it might adjust rates.

Lastly, individual policyholder factors can play a role, even if you haven’t had an accident. This can include changes to your credit score (where allowed), age, or even minor adjustments to the insurer’s risk assessment criteria. If your rate increases and you’re unsure why, it’s always a good idea to contact your insurer directly for an explanation.

The effect of rate increases on car insurance

The effect of rate increases on car insurance can manifest in several ways, impacting both consumers and the insurance industry as a whole:

  1. Consumer Burden:
    • Financial Strain: Increased rates can place additional financial burdens on policyholders, especially those on tight budgets. This can lead some individuals to reconsider their spending habits or make sacrifices in other areas.
    • Reduced Coverage: To combat higher rates, some consumers might opt for less comprehensive coverage or increase their deductibles to lower their premiums, thereby assuming more personal risk.
    • Shopping Around: An increase in rates can prompt consumers to shop around and compare prices among different insurers.
    • Lapsed Policies: Some individuals, especially those who find the new rates unaffordable, may let their insurance lapse, which can lead to legal complications if they continue to drive.
  2. Industry Impact:
    • Competitive Landscape: Insurers who don’t raise rates or have smaller increases might gain a competitive advantage and attract more customers.
    • Reputation: Companies with frequent and high rate increases might face reputational challenges, with consumers perceiving them as less consumer-friendly.
    • Risk Management: Insurers might raise rates to maintain profitability amidst a changing risk landscape. For example, more frequent natural disasters, increased accident rates, or higher repair costs might necessitate rate hikes.
  3. Vehicle Ownership & Usage:
    • Driving Habits: Higher insurance costs might lead some individuals to drive less frequently or use alternative transportation methods, thereby reducing their exposure to risk.
    • Vehicle Choices: Some consumers might opt for vehicles that are cheaper to insure. For instance, a person might choose a basic sedan over a luxury SUV because of the insurance cost difference.
    • Telematics and UBI (Usage-Based Insurance): With increased rates, there might be a higher adoption of telematics-based insurance policies, where premiums are determined by actual driving behavior.
  4. Regulatory Response:
    • Intervention: In regions where insurance rates are regulated, there might be regulatory pushback against perceived excessive rate hikes.
    • Reforms: Persistent rate hikes can lead to calls for insurance reforms, such as changes to how claims are handled, efforts to reduce fraud, or the establishment of public auto insurance systems.
  5. Economic Impact:
    • Disposable Income: Higher insurance costs reduce disposable income, potentially affecting spending in other sectors of the economy.
    • Costs to Uninsured Drivers: Those who choose to drive without insurance due to high rates and are subsequently caught face fines, penalties, and potential legal ramifications, leading to additional economic burdens.
  6. Behavioral Changes:
    • Risk Avoidance: Some consumers might engage in safer driving practices to avoid accidents, which would lead to claims and potential future rate increases.
    • Fraud: Conversely, high insurance rates might incentivize a small subset of individuals to engage in fraudulent activities, such as staging accidents or inflating repair costs, in an attempt to benefit financially.

How rate increases are approved across the provinces


In Canada, auto insurance is regulated at the provincial and territorial level. Consequently, the process for approving rate increases varies from one province or territory to another. However, most provinces have a regulatory body or authority that reviews and approves (or denies) rate changes proposed by insurance companies. Here’s a brief overview of how rate increases are approved across various provinces:

  1. British Columbia (BC):
    • The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a government-run insurer providing basic auto insurance to all BC drivers. Rate changes for the basic coverage are proposed by ICBC and reviewed and approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC).
  2. Alberta:
    • Private insurers in Alberta propose rate changes to the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB). The AIRB reviews and approves or denies these changes based on a variety of factors, including the financial health of the insurer and broader market conditions.
  3. Saskatchewan:
    • Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) provides basic auto insurance in the province. Proposed rate changes are subject to government approval.
  4. Manitoba:
    • Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) provides basic auto insurance. Rate changes are proposed by MPI and reviewed and approved by the Public Utilities Board (PUB).
  5. Ontario:
    • The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) oversees rate changes in Ontario. Private insurers must submit proposed rate changes to FSRA for review and approval. FSRA assesses the changes based on the insurer’s financial records, actuarial data, and other relevant factors.
  6. Quebec:
    • The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) provides public insurance for bodily injury, while property damage is covered by private insurers. Rate changes for the public portion are determined by the SAAQ and government, while private insurers must seek approval from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) for changes to property damage coverage rates.
  7. Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI):
    • In Nova Scotia, the Utility and Review Board oversees rate changes.
    • In New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Insurance Board (NBIB) reviews and approves rate changes.
    • In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Public Utilities Board reviews and approves insurance rate changes.
    • In PEI, the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission oversees auto insurance rates.
  8. Northern Territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut):
    • Insurance rate regulation in the territories tends to be less structured compared to the provinces. Typically, insurers are expected to adhere to fair pricing principles and can be subject to review if complaints arise.

Most regulatory bodies aim to ensure that rates are fair, not excessive, and adequate to cover the claims and administrative costs that insurers face. The exact criteria and processes for approval can vary, but they generally involve a detailed review of actuarial data, financial statements, and other relevant information to ensure consumers are protected while allowing insurers to remain financially viable.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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