A couple sit together in the front seats of a car, discussing car insurance premiums

Whether you’re thinking of buying a new vehicle or just shopping around for a new car insurance provider, it helps to understand how insurance companies determine the amount you’ll pay for coverage. Let us break it down for you.

How are car insurance premiums calculated?

While there are several factors that go into determining the cost of your car insurance, here are three of the most influential things insurance companies consider:

  1. Statistical data about the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Insurance companies use the Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) system to price car insurance based on the likelihood that a vehicle will be involved in a claim and how much it’ll cost to cover the damages. Vehicles that are statistically less likely to be involved in collision or theft claims (or have built-in safety and anti-theft features that result in smaller losses) are generally given lower CLEAR ratings than vehicles that are more frequently involved in claims or have fewer safety features. A lower CLEAR rating generally results in a lower car insurance premium.

    It’s not just about price. A more expensive vehicle that is safer and harder to steal may be given a lower CLEAR rating than a less expensive vehicle with fewer safety and anti-theft features, even though the more expensive vehicle would cost more to replace. If the more expensive vehicle statistically experiences fewer claims and smaller losses (and, as a result, gets a lower CLEAR rating) it could cost less to insure.

  2. Where you live. The city or town you live in (right down to the postal code) can have an impact on your car insurance premium. Drivers in urban areas generally pay more for car insurance because the likelihood of collision or theft claims is higher where there are more people on the roads. Insurance companies assess the claims history of each area to determine how much should be paid by the drivers who live there. As the number of accidents and the cost of claims in any given area increase, car insurance premiums tend to increase as well.
  3. The way you drive. Your driving record can have a significant impact on the cost of your insurance — and it’s no secret that things like licence suspensions, parking tickets, and convictions for driving offenses generally result in higher premiums. But even when you’re a good driver and have never received a ticket, your driving habits still come into play. The length of your morning commute, who you share your vehicle with, and your driving experience are considered when calculating the cost of your insurance.

Why did my car insurance company increase my premium?

If the cost of your car insurance has recently gone up, there are likely a number of factors that went into determining your new premium. While some of these factors may be within your control (like traffic tickets or at-fault collisions), others are industry-wide issues that insurance companies are working to address to keep pricing as fair as possible for all customers. Here are two of the major contributors to industry-wide increases in car insurance premiums.

An increase in the frequency and severity of physical damage claims

Insurers are seeing more and more physical damage claims, and the cost of resolving these claims is increasing for several reasons. Many modern vehicles are built with advanced driver assistance systems that involve complex sensors and computerized components, and these vehicles tend to cost more to repair. Distracted driving is also on the rise, which leads to increasing accidents with more severe damage. As the cost of paying car insurance claims increases, so do car insurance premiums.

Car insurance fraud

Car insurance fraud is also a major issue affecting the industry. In Ontario alone, the Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that car insurance fraud costs drivers an estimated $1.6 billion each year (or about $236 per driver). Insurance companies are working to reduce instances of car insurance fraud and minimize the impact they have on customers.

Every situation is unique. If you have questions about your coverage or your premium, you can contact your group’s car insurance broker.

How can I reduce the cost of my car insurance?

Now that you know the basic factors that determine the cost of your car insurance, you might be wondering what you can do to decrease that cost. Here are three ways to lower your car insurance premium and start saving today:

  1. Take advantage of discounts. Talk to your group’s broker and find out if you qualify for any of the top 10 car insurance discounts available in Canada. You might be surprised how much you could save, especially if you’re eligible for multiple discounts.
  2. Choose a higher deductible. Generally speaking, opting for a higher deductible will lower the cost of your insurance. But first, get the lowdown on deductibles to make sure a higher deductible is right for you.
  3. Get educated. When it comes to saving on car insurance, it helps to understand your options. Learn more about how you could reduce your car insurance premium and hit the road for less.

Next time you’re shopping for a new vehicle, get in touch with your group’s car insurance broker before you seal the deal. Not only will your group’s broker help you find the right insurance coverage for the best price, but they can also help you compare policies and prices for the models you’re considering — so there won’t be any surprises when it’s time to insure your new ride.

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