ARE YOU COVERED?
Every policy is different, but there are some common situations to be aware of. Your vehicle insurance policy likely has some flexibility built in to ensure you are covered in different situations. You should check your policy or ask us to be sure.
Renting a car
If you drive a rented car or any vehicle that is not owned by you, your existing vehicle insurance covers physical damage to the vehicle, accident benefits third-party liability to the same limits that apply in your policy. Note: this is only true if your insurance is issued to you as an individual. If your vehicle insurance is issued to your business, you are not protected when driving non-owned cars.
Also, if you rent a luxury car but have a subcompact insured, you might not be covered for the cost of repairs to the luxury vehicle. In these cases, you should purchase the insurance offered by the renter. If you are a frequent renter, add an endorsement to your car insurance policy. These can be simple to arrange, and far more economical than the costly damage waivers that rental car companies charge.
Travelling outside the province or country
Your insurance will apply if you take your car on short trips to other provinces or into the continental U.S., as long as you engage in normal use of the vehicle.
Moving to another province
If you are relocating long-term or permanently, you must inform your insurer and arrange for new coverage that reflects the risks in your new location.
When the car is "in the shop"
Under most insurance policies, you are not entitled to a replacement vehicle while your car is in the shop for normal maintenance or repair. If you lose the use of your car because of an accident, then you might be entitled to a loaned vehicle depending on the situation.
When driving someone else's car
If you borrow someone else's car, you are covered by the insurance on that car. However, if you are involved in an accident, the owner's record, not yours, will be affected. If you are a regular borrower, ask your broker to arrange a special clause in your policy to cover your use.
When someone else drives your car
Remember that when someone else is driving your car, you are still responsible for it. Any at-fault accidents or claims will go onto your driving record and affect your future premiums.
YOUR AUTO INSURANCE BILL OF RIGHTS
Make sure you are aware of your rights as an auto insurance consumer.
BUYING A NEW CAR
You went for a test drive and fell in love-good gas mileage, affordable price, nice dash, and the car handles great. But other factors should weigh in when buying a new car like insurance rates. Generally, more expensive cars are more expensive to insure, since repairs tend to be more costly and luxury vehicles are often a target for theft. So how can you reduce insurance costs and still buy a car you like?
Choosing the right car
You don't have to choose the most humble-looking car on the lot. You can look for a number of car features that can positively affect insurance rates, such as safety and anti-theft features.
Safety features can help lower premiums
Safety enhancements can keep your insurance costs low because they can make collisions less likely and, in the case of occurrence, less serious. Some car manufacturers list certain features as being standard while others list them as optional and charge extra for them. Check if the following safety features are standard or optional when you shop:
Anti-theft protection can shave car insurance costs too
You can add anti-theft devices to make your vehicle harder to steal, such as an immobilizer. It's an electronic device that stops thieves from starting your vehicle without the key. Other anti-theft devices include steering wheel locks, a car alarm, tracking system, and/or parts marking.
What should my car insurance include?
The idea of car insurance is to protect you and others involved in a collision. But there are layers of coverage, some mandatory, and options you can add to pad your policy against additional risks and related costs.
Liability insurance (mandatory)
Personal injury insurance will cover medical expenses.
Collision insurance (optional)
Collision insurance will help cover the costs of any damage to your car, including repairs or replacement.
Comprehensive insurance (optional)
Comprehensive insurance coverage extends to protect your car against theft, vandalism and other risks (i.e. weather-related damage).
Still unclear what to look for in your car policy? An independent insurance broker can help you to find the best coverage.
CELL PHONE USE
By now, you've probably heard that driving and cell phone use don't mix. The Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research reports that driver distraction is responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of traffic collisions, and cell phone use is a form of mental distraction. Other research has found that cell phone use during driving increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes four times and doubles the risk of rear-end collisions.
How does cell phone use affect driving?
Cell phone use adversely affects driving ability in a few ways. For example, a 2002 Transport Canada study notes that when drivers use cell phones, their mirror and periphery (left/right) inspection decreases. Talking on a cell phone also increases the chances of missing red lights, according to other data.
Inattention and slow reaction time
Elderly drivers often get tagged as being slow behind the wheel, but findings from the University of Utah showed that a 20-year-old driver on a cell phone has the same reaction time as a 70-year-old driver without a cell phone. Younger drivers on cell phones had a 17 percent slower reaction time in hitting the brakes, which was comparable to that of older drivers.
Does the hands-free option help reduce risk?
Not exactly. Study data shows that regardless, using a cell phone while driving reduces slows the driver's reaction time by 18 per cent.
Is it against the law?
It depends where you live. In Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, it's now illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving. A similar law is currently being weighed in Alberta and Manitoba. In BC, a province-wide ban on all cell phone use while driving including hands-free is under consideration. Ontario passed legislation in 2009 that bans the use of cell phones and other electronic communication devices for talking or texting while driving, but allows hands-free devices.
How it affects insurance rates
Cell phone use won't affect your insurance rates per se, but if you receive a ticket where there's a ban in place, expect higher premiums.
Motorcycle insurance is similar to car insurance and requires many of the same considerations as far as mandatory and optional coverage.
Third party liability will cover you for the costs of any claim made against you in the event that you're legally responsible for an accident that causes injury or death, or property damage. Each province requires a minimum level of coverage, but remember that a claim may exceed your coverage amount, so you can be held personally responsible for the balance. It is normally recommended to carry at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage.
Accident benefits are mandatory in all provinces but Newfoundland - they cover you, your passengers or pedestrians who are injured or killed in a motorcycle accident. Coverage varies between provinces, so you'll need to check on details such as medical expenses, funeral costs, disability income, and death-related expenses.
Uninsured motorist coverage compensates you and your passengers for bodily injury if you're involved in an accident with an at-fault uninsured driver. Not all provinces include this option in insurance policies.
Motorcycle Collision coverage is optional, and compensates you for the cost of repairing or replace your motorcycle after sustaining damage in a collision.
Comprehensive coverage will protect you against risks other than collision, such as damage or loss resulting from theft, fire or vandalism.
Specified perils covers physical damage to your bike but only for damage caused by hazards specifically listed on the policy. The list may include theft, fire, weather damage, natural disaster (i.e. earthquake), and explosions to name a few. They don't usually cover vandalism or damage caused flying or falling objects (e.g. rocks).
It pays to find out what your motorcycle insurance policy covers for sure and what it excludes. You may even be eligible for discounted insurances rates if you meet certain criteria. Ask your insurance broker how you can minimize your risks and insurance costs.