According to Ontario Law, every driver must have car insurance on the vehicle that they drive, and every insurance policy must include the following:
Third-Party Liability Coverage — with a $200,000 minimum in case someone else is killed or injured or their property is damaged as a result of a car accident you are in
Statutory Accident Benefits Coverage — provides you with benefits if you are injured in an accident even if you were at fault
Direct Compensation & Property Damage Coverage — for any damage to your vehicle and possessions inside it if you are in an accident and someone else was at fault
Uninsured Automobile Coverage — for you and your family if you are injured or killed by a vehicle that is uninsured or flees the scene before their identity can be determined
Any insurance you get must come through a company or broker who is licensed to sell car insurance by the Government of Ontario. There are three types of contacts to help you get insured:
Broker — sells you the best insurance rate from a number of different companies they represent
Agent — usually sells insurance only for a single company.
Direct Writer — represents a company that sells insurance directly to drivers.
These different options allow you as the driver to shop around to different companies and contacts so you can find the best insurance rate.
Cost of Car Insurance in Ontario
The cost of car insurance in Ontario depends on several factors. In general, the main things taken into account when setting someone’s policy cost include:
Driving Experience — how long you’ve been driving in Canada (your record in other countries is not counted)
Driving History — how many accidents or speeding tickets you have
Age — the older you are the lower your rates in general
Gender — women typically get lower rates than men
Location — there are more accidents in crowded cities like Toronto than in smaller towns
Vehicle — cars that are cheaper and have higher safety ratings do not cost as much to insure
Vehicle Usage — the more you drive the higher chance you get into an accident
Winter Tires — a new Ontario law allows for drivers to get an insurance discount for using winter tires during the snowy season.
Ontario has the highest average insurance rates in Canada out of any other province. This is due to a greater concern for insurance fraud compared to any other province, but also due to the nature of insurance laws. Ontario mandates better standard coverage and accident benefit laws, so the extra cost at least has extra benefits as well.
Did You Know? The average car insurance policy in Ontario costs $1,920 per year, compared to the Canadian average of $1,320. Of all the provinces in the country, Ontario has the highest average insurance cost.
Car Insurance for New Drivers
For new drivers who are young and are still working their way through Ontario’s Graduated Licensing program, insurance policies and costs will work differently than it will once they get their full G License.
First, their rates will be higher. This is because inexperienced and statistically at a greater risk of being in an accident. Each time they upgrade to a higher license level, their rates will be lowered. So the rates from when they have a G1 will drop when they get a G2, and will drop again when they get a full G.
However, the higher rates are can be mitigated if they do not have their own car. If they only drive their parents’ cars then they will not be insured as the main. Not being the main driver means they are not using the vehicle as much, and this lowers their rates.
Temporary Car Insurance
Standard car insurance policies in Ontario usually run for at least one year, but there could be unique circumstances where someone needs shorter term car insurance-someone traveling to the province for an extended business trip, or someone visiting family for a few months, someone who has a lapse in their insurance, and so on.
Some insurance companies do provide short term insurance options, but it won’t be easy to find information about it on their websites. You will normally have to call several companies and speak to a few representatives before you can find someone who can give you the information you need.
Temporary or short term car insurance should never be used instead of regular insurance. It is considerably more expensive over the same length of time as standard insurance policies.
Did You Know? The average annual insurance payment in Ontario for men is $1,968 and $1,836 for women. This is not because women statistically have been less likely to be in a car accident, but when they are in one it is less costly than accidents that men are in.
Do Car Insurance Companies Share Information?
Canada has privacy laws that protect most of your personal information, so insurance companies cannot share your information with each other a lot of the time.
However, there are some other federal and provincial laws that allow for exceptions. The biggest exception is Bill S-4, or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. One of the implications for insurance companies is that it they can share personal information without consent if it reasonably allows them to discover and prevent fraud.
Such cases would be relatively rare, and will not impact most people. Insurance companies would not share information they have about you as a client with other companies when it pertains to your previous rates and coverage.
When Will My Insurance Rates Be Reduced?
There are a few changes that can happen that will help reduce your insurance rates:
Getting a higher driver’s license level or completing a safe driving course
Being older while also keeping a clean driving record
Changing your policy’s deductible or level of coverage to something cheaper
Moving to a safer area, somewhere with more secure parking, or out of a bigger city to a smaller town
Old accidents and tickets falling off of your record
Shopping around at another company who offers cheaper rates
Some of these changes can happen without you doing anything, and if you want your rate to improve as a result you should call your insurance company to see if they will lower it. If not, take a quick look around at other companies and see if they’ll offer you a better rate.
Did You Know? Fines for being caught driving a car without a valid car insurance policy range between $5,000 and $50,000, and you can also have your license suspended or car impounded. If you cause a car accident without proper insurance, you have to pay legal and medical costs.
What if I Get Into a Car Accident?
If you are in a car accident, your rates will not necessarily be negatively affected. Here’s a quick outline of the various general situations and what they might mean for you:
If you were the sole driver in the accident, you are automatically at fault
If you are determined to have not been at fault, your rates are not affected
If you are determined to have been at fault, it stays on your record for 6 to 10 years and your rates might be affected
If you were found to be at fault but you have been with the insurance company long enough and have a clean driving record, they might forgive the rate increase so it is only a small amount. Any increases to your rates usually only happen once the next year in your policy kicks in.
How to Choose a Car Insurance Company
The best way to choose an insurance company is to shop around and see who can offer the best rates for the type of coverage you want:
Online Comparison Sites — enter your information and they show you comparative rates from numerous companies
Insurance Brokers — they represent multiple companies and they can make the best offer from them for you
Call Them Yourself — if you want to be thorough look up the big companies and call them yourself to see what offer they can make
It might take a bit of time and work, but in the end you can save yourself a lot of money. Remember that there are so many factors that affect how much you pay, and so much that constantly changes, that you can do this again every so often and again find a better deal if you’re willing to put in the work. Changing companies does not negatively affect your rates.
Did You Know? New reforms to Ontario insurance law took effect on June 1st 2016 that are meant to reduce the average costs for basic policies. The new policies will also include less coverage, but you will have more choice to pick what extra coverage you want. As of the summer of 2017, the results of this new reform have been mixed and consumers are encouraged to continue shopping around to find the best rates.
Car insurance can be as complicated as just buying the car itself, but with some tips, understanding of the process, and effort on your part to shop around you can get great insurance coverage at a good deal than you might otherwise. Good luck!
On this page
Decide if you need insurance
Understand your insurance policy
How insurance is regulated
Decide if you need insurance
The decision to get insurance depends on your circumstances and your stage in life, such as:
moving in with your partner
starting a family
buying a home or renting a home or an apartment
starting a business
buying a new vehicle
Insurance can protect you and your loved ones from financial loss or hardship.
Insurance can help cover costs if something unexpected happens to:
you or your family
There are many insurance products that cover different types of risks.
Understand your insurance policy
An insurance policy is a legal contract between you (the insured) and the insurance company (the insurer).
An insurance policy specifies:
which risks are covered by your insurance company
under what circumstances the insurer will make a payment to you
how much money, or what type of benefit, you’ll get if you make a claim
Usually the policyholder is the person who owns the insurance policy. In some cases, the policyholder isn’t the insured, but rather a family member or loved one.
The amount of money or benefit you’ll get if you make a claim depends on:
the amount of damage or loss to your car or home
your policy for life or health insurance
Make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers and doesn’t cover. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
To get insurance you pay a fee called a premium. Usually, you pay the premium monthly, quarterly or yearly. The amount you pay as a premium may change over time for some types of insurance.
The amount you’ll pay as a premium is based on the probability that you’ll make a claim. Insurance companies charge higher premiums to people they think are more likely to make a claim.
Generally, the amount you pay as a premium depends on factors such as:
the type of insurance
your medical history for life and health insurance
the value of the goods insured for home insurance
the type of car you drive for car insurance
the amount of coverage you need
your claim history
When you pay premiums, your insurance company agrees to pay a certain amount of money for any loss or damages that your policy covers.
Impact of your credit rating on premiums
When you get car or home insurance, an insurance company can charge higher premiums based on your credit rating.
Some provinces have regulations that ban the use of credit reports and credit scores in determining insurance premiums for certain types of insurance.
These provinces are:
Alberta: car insurance
Ontario: car insurance
Newfoundland and Labrador: home and car insurance
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) represents most home and car insurance companies in Canada. They provide standards to protect consumers when insurers choose to use credit information.
Insurance companies agree to:
request your consent before collecting and using your credit information
advise you of your right to opt out of releasing credit information
advise you of the consequences of opting out of releasing credit information (for example, you may not qualify for the insurer’s best rate or discounts if you have a good credit report)
To confirm if your insurance company is allowed to collect and use your credit information when determining your coverage and premiums, contact your provincial or territorial insurance regulator.
Risk is the likelihood that an insured event will happen while your policy is in effect.
For example, if you have a history of medical issues, you may pay higher life insurance premiums than someone who has few.
For example, if you have several accidents on your driving record, you may pay higher car insurance premiums than someone who has none.
Health, dental, home and car insurance policies may require that you pay a deductible. A deductible is the amount of your claim that you agree to pay before your insurance company pays the rest. The higher your deductible, the less you may pay in premiums.
For example, if you make a claim for $2,000 but you have a $500 deductible, your insurance will only cover $1,500 of your claim.
Exclusions are things that your insurance policy doesn’t cover.
some health insurance policies may exclude certain medical conditions you had before you applied
a travel insurance policy may exclude claims made if you travel to a high risk country
a home insurance policy may exclude claims for some types of water damage
Riders and endorsements
You may be able to buy extra insurance at an additional cost to pay for risk that your basic policy doesn’t cover. This is known as a rider or an endorsement. Ask your insurance company to find out what your policy covers and doesn’t cover and for what risk you might need extra coverage.
How insurance is regulated
Insurance companies are regulated on the federal level and provincial and territorial level.
Federal insurance regulators
Federally regulated insurance companies must have a system in place to handle consumer complaints. They must be a member of a neutral third party dispute resolution system.
If you hold a policy with a federally regulated insurance company, your insurance company must give you information on:
how to make a complaint
how long the process will take
the next steps if the complaint has not been resolved
Most insurance companies are federally incorporated. The federal government ensures that all federally incorporated insurance companies are financially sound.
Find a list of federally regulated insurance companies.
Learn how to make a complaint.
Provincial/territorial insurance regulators
Your provincial or territorial regulator can help you:
confirm that the insurance company, agent or broker you’re dealing with is licensed or registered to do business in your province or territory
help you resolve a complaint
protect you in case your insurance company goes bankrupt
Each province has its own insurance regulator. All insurance companies must follow the rules and regulations of the province or territory where they carry on business.
Provincial and territorial insurance regulators enforce consumer protection laws. They also oversee the licensing and conduct of insurance agents and brokers in their province or territory.
Decide if you need additional health insurance
Provincial and territorial health plans cover most of your basic health care needs. Additional health insurance products, such as private or supplementary health insurance, may help you:
pay for services that aren’t covered by your regular health care plan such as special nursing services, ambulance services, wheelchairs and other durable equipment
supplement your income if you suffer a major illness or severe injury
pay for your medical expenses if you become ill while travelling
Before buying additional health insurance, check your employer’s benefits plan to make sure that you don’t buy coverage you already have. For example, you may already have coverage for glasses or dental work through your employer’s plan.
Check your policy to find out if:
there is a deductible, which is the amount of your claim that you agree to pay before the insurer pays the rest
the amount your insurer will pay is limited to a percentage of the claim
the amount your insurer will pay is limited to a maximum annual amount
Who your health insurance policy covers
Your health insurance policy covers you if the policy is in your name.
Your spouse or partner and children under 19 years old may also be eligible for coverage under your insurance policy. Children over 19 may be eligible for coverage under your policy if they are still in school or if they are disabled.
Travel medical insurance
If you plan on travelling outside Canada, you may want to get travel medical insurance to pay for medical treatment while in another country.
Your policy may not provide coverage for medical conditions you had before applying for insurance. Read your policy carefully.
Get information about selecting travel insurance.
Travelling within Canada
If you’re travelling within Canada, an agreement exists between the provinces and territories to provide you with a certain amount of medical coverage.
Quebec participates in this agreement only for hospital fees. Quebec residents should check their health plans for any limitations before travelling outside their home province.
What to consider when buying travel medical insurance
Before you get any insurance policy, read it carefully to learn about any exclusions, including those related to pre-existing conditions. An exclusion is a condition not covered in your policy.
Make sure you understand what your policy does and does not cover. Health insurance can be complex, you may want to consult an insurance advisor.
Learn more with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s Guide to Travel Health Insurance.