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Car insurance is mandatory throughout Canada, and Calgary is no exception. In fact, you're not even allowed to buy license plates without proof of insurance. Insurance covers the cost of damage and injuries sustained in an accident.
Alberta has a private auto insurance system. In basic terms, it means drivers buy their coverage from insurance companies. In some places in Canada, drivers get insurance from a Crown corporation, which is also usually the sole provider of car insurance in the province.
Alberta's auto insurance system has two other defining characteristics:
The intention behind this recently enacted change is to create a more efficient process to resolve auto insurance claims. These efficiencies will benefit consumers' wallets, too. Lower legal expenses mean insurance companies can charge Albertans less for coverage.
The Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) is a provincial body that establishes guidelines on how insurance companies can rate consumers. Insurance ratings determine how much the company charges a driver for coverage.
AIRB has another tool to regulate insurance prices: the Grid. The Grid outlines the most a company can charge for basic insurance coverage. You may move up or down the Grid depending on your driving history. The rules state that your insurance premium cannot exceed the maximum price for someone with your driving history.
There are three categories of car insurance coverages in Alberta: mandatory, optional, and endorsements.
Mandatory coverage is the bare minimum amount of insurance you must hold to drive a car legally in Alberta.
Optional coverage refers to add-ons you can purchase that broaden your base policy.
Endorsements are a form of optional coverage — with a twist. Endorsements, also known as standard endorsement forms, are special agreements. They allow you to change, add, or reduce the amount of coverage outlined in your policy.
|Personal liability and property coverage (PLPD)||Mandatory||
This coverage provides financial aid when you're at fault for an accident. Your insurance pays for bodily injury and property damage you cause to another person and any legal expenses you may incur. The minimum you're required to carry is $200,000. This means your insurance company will pay for expenses up to $200,000. Experts often recommend that policyholders increase their coverage to at least $1 million. The liability part of your insurance contract will pay for:
- Medical costs for anyone you've injured
- The cost to repair or replace another person's property
- Legal fees that stem from the accident and finally
- Damages to the injured parties.
This part of your policy covers costs when you or a passenger are in an accident and need medical care. Accident benefits also provide compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Surviving spouses and dependents.
|Direct compensation for property damage (DCPD)||Mandatory||This covers the cost of repairing or replacing your car after you're in a collision you did not cause. If you are 100% not at fault, DCPD will cover 100% of your costs. It's possible to be partially at fault for causing an accident. In this scenario, you'll still receive compensation from DCPD, but it will be a reduced amount. For example, if you're 50% responsible, you'll only receive 50% of your benefit. DCPD has no deductible and filing a claim won't affect your premium in the future. (You can opt to purchase a deductible — this will reduce your premium slightly.)|
|Collision coverage||Optional||This helps pay for repairs if you collide with another vehicle or crash into a stationary object. Collision coverage will pay to repair your car if you're at fault for an accident.|
|Comprehensive coverage||Optional||This helps pay for repairs if an event other than a collision damages your car (e.g., vandalism or adverse weather). Calgary sits in Alberta's Hailstorm Alley, making it prone to severe summer storms. Hail causes millions of dollars in damage to vehicles each year. Comprehensive insurance will cover this peril.|
|Named perils||Optional||This is a cheaper option than comprehensive. It only protects against the perils listed in your policy.|
|Comprehensive Cover Limited Glass (SEF 13D)||Endorsement||This limits a vehicle's glass coverage for a reduced premium.|
|Loss of Use (SEF 20)||Endorsement||If your car is unusable, this endorsement will pay for temporary transportation. You can use the money for taxis and public transit up to a limit.|
|Legal Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles (SEF 27)||Endorsement||This extends your physical damage insurance to a rental vehicle.|
|Accident Rating Waiver (SEF 39)||Endorsement||If you are found responsible for causing an accident, this endorsement prevents your premium from rising. It only applies to scenarios that your insurance company agreed in advance to cover.|
|Limited Waiver of Depreciation (SEF 43R)||Endorsement||This endorsement prevents the insurance company from factoring in depreciation when calculating a claim payout. For this endorsement to apply, the damage needs to be caused by an insured event.|
|Family Protection (SEF 44)||Endorsement||This is excess coverage for accidents that involve an underinsured driver. This endorsement will cover the total cost of a claim.|
These are the steps Alberta insurance companies follow to calculate your rate:
The base premium is the average amount needed from each customer to ensure the company can pay claims and bills and extract a reasonable profit.
Doing this changes the base premium. Your insurance company will rate you based on:
If you live in a city, your premium will likely be higher than someone living in the country. There are more vehicles on the road, which means more accidents. Theft, vandalism, and insurance fraud tends to happen more frequently in cities.
The make and model year affects a part of your premium. Why? Insurance companies have to consider how much it could cost to repair or replace your car. For more recent models, premiums tend to be higher than cars older than three years. The older the vehicle, the more you stand to save on insurance. Cars with better safety and handling characteristics are sometimes more affordable to insure. However, many vehicles with superior safety features have built-in sensors to detect danger, making them costly to fix. This means, paradoxically, that you might not reap savings on your insurance by picking the safest car on the market.
The most common causes of a price increase can be split into two categories: the factors you can control and those you can't.
Factors you can control:
Factors you can't control:
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Here's what a 35-year-old man driving a 2018 Honda Civic with a conviction and claims-free insurance record can expect to pay, according to data sourced from the RATESDOTCA quoter in late 2021.
The Calgary average is higher than the provincial average. The reason urban drivers pay more for insurance is that they're more likely to experience risks such as:
We chose to analyze quotes for a 35-year-old since car insurance rates between men and women tend to equalize by that age. It also approximates the average age of the population, which was 38.7 years old according to the 2021 census.
Drivers in large cities pay the most for insurance in Alberta, the data show.
To do a fair comparison between cities, we used the same driver profile to pull quotes in each city: a 35-year-old man driving a 2018 Honda Civic with a conviction and claims-free insurance record.
|City||Geographic designation/population size||Premium|
|Calgary||Large urban / 1,372,178||$2230|
|Edmonton||Large urban / 1,057,181||$2124|
|Airdrie||Medium / 77,027||$2000|
|Llyodminster||Medium / 20,204||$1849|
|Okotoks||Medium / 31,413||$1849|
|Grande Prairie||Medium / 67,627||$1806|
|Lethbridge||Medium / 101,799||$1780|
|Stony Plain||Small / 18,371||$1724|
|Morinville||Small / 10,442||$1724|
|Medicine Hat||Medium /65,203||$1722|
|Red Deer||Medium / 104,392||$1712|
|Sylvan lake||Small / 16,354||$1712|
The average premiums below are based on the lowest quote offered to a 35-year-old man driving a 2018 Honda Civic with a conviction and claims-free insurance record. Your premium might be different. Comparing quotes is the best way to find out if you could pay less for insurance.
Find your forward sortation area (the first three letters of your postal code) and see what the average premium is for your neighbourhood.
|Forward sortation area (FSA)||Neighbourhoods in coverage area||Annual Premium|
|T1Y||Northeast Calgary, Sunridge, Temple, Pineridge||$2730|
|T2A||Marlborough, Forest Lawn-Forest Heights||$2636|
|T2E||Mayland Heights, Vista Heights, Bridgeland, Crescent Heights, Highland Park, Northeast Calgary, Calgary International Airport||$2239|
|T2G||Alyth - Bonnybrook - Manchester, Beltline, Downtown, Inglewood/Southeast Calgary||$2239|
|T2H||Acadia, Alyth - Bonnybrook - Manchester, Fairview, Kingsland, Meadowlark Park, Southeast Calgary, Southwest Calgary||$2239|
|T2J||Acadia, Deer Ridge, Haysboro, Lake Bonavista, Queensland, Southeast Calgary, Willow Park||$2239|
|T2K||Cambrian Heights, Highland Park, Highwood, Huntington Hills, North Haven, Northwest Calgary, Thorncliffe||$2239|
|T2L||Brentwood, Charleswood, Collingwood, Northwest Calgary||$2140|
|T2M||Banff Trail, Capitol Hill, Crescent Heights, Mount Pleasant, Northeast Calgary, Northwest Calgary||$2239|
|T2N||Hillhurst, Hounsfield Heights - Briar Hill, Northwest Calgary||$2140|
|T2P||Downtown, Downtown Calgary||$2239|
|T2S||Beltline, Britannia, Cliff Bungalow, Mission, Southwest Calgary||$2239|
|T2T||Altadore, Bankview, Beltline, Lower Mount Royal, Richmond, South Calgary, Southwest Calgary||$2239|
|T2V||Eagle Ridge, Haysboro, Kelvin Grove, Kingsland, Oakridge, Palliser, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T2W||Braeside, Canyon Meadows, Cedarbrae, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T2X||Chaparral, Midnapore, Silverado, Southeast Calgary||$2239|
|T2Y||Bridlewood, Evergreen, Millrise, Shawnee Slopes, Shawnessy, Somerset, Southwest Calgary||$1948|
|T2Z||Copperfield, Douglasdale, McKenzie Lake, McKenzie Towne, New Brighton, Southeast Calgary||$2239|
|T3A||Brentwood, Dalhousie, Edgemont, Hamptons, Hidden Valley, Northwest Calgary||$1948|
|T3B||Bowness, Montgomery, Northwest Calgary, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T3C||Beltline, Rosscarrock, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T3E||Currie Barracks, Glamorgan, Glenbrook, Glendale, Killarney, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, North Glenmore, Richmond, Rutland Park, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T3G||Arbour Lake, Citadel, Hawkwood, Northwest Calgary||$2140|
|T3H||Aspen Woods, Cougar Ridge, Discovery Ridge, Patterson, Signal Hill, Southwest Calgary||$2140|
|T3J||Castleridge, Coral Springs, Falconridge, Martindale, Northeast Calgary||$2730|
|T3K||Beddington Heights, Country Hills, Country Hills Village, Coventry Hills, Harvest Hills, Northeast Calgary, Northwest Calgary||$2239|
|T3L||Northwest Calgary, Tuscany||$2140|
|T3M||Auburn Bay, Cranston, Mahogany, Seton, Southeast Calgary||$1948|
|T3N||Skyview Ranch, Northeast Calgary||$2730|
|T3P||Evanston, Northwest Calgary||$2239|
|T3R||Nolan Hill, Northwest Calgary, Royal Vista||$2140|
|T3S||Copperfield, Southeast Calgary||$2000|
|T3Z||Northwest Calgary, Southeast Calgary, Southwest Calgary||$1849|
A 35-year-old driver in Sylvan Lake (population of roughly 16,000) pays $1,712 a year or 23% less than a Calgary driver of the same age ($2,230 per year). Calgary has the highest car insurance rates in the entire province. It is also Alberta’s largest city by population, with roughly 1.5 million people in 2021. Population size and high auto insurance rates are correlated. In big cities, there are more incidences of collision, injury, and theft.
Calgary, in particular, has a high rate of car theft. At one point in 2017, the number of cars stolen per month reached a high of 1,000. Car thefts result in claims, which means insurance companies keep rates high to cover their costs.
Collisions are more often fatal in rural areas versus in cities (852 incidences compared to 711, respectively, according to 2020 statistics from Transport Canada). The number of non-life-threatening collisions occurring on city roads results in far more claims. According to Transport Canada, 174% more crashes resulted in personal injury in cities than in rural areas, according to the National Collision Database — another factor that keeps rates high for city dwellers.
|Alberta Motor Association Insurance Company||Insurance company||Calgary Main: (403) 240-5300||Calgary Main: 4700 17 Avenue SW T3E 0E3|
|Aviva Canada Group||Insurance company||Calgary 403-750-0600||Calgary 112-4th Avenue SW, Suite 2100 Calgary, AB T2P 0H3|
|Economical Mutual Insurance Company||Insurance company||Calgary Phone: 403-265-8590||CALGARY BRANCH 322 11th Avenue SW, Suite 700, Calgary AB T2R 0C5|
|Insurance Hotline||Quotes comparison||1 (855) 821-7312||225 King St W, Suite 1000, Toronto, ON, M5V 3M2|
|Intact Insurance||Insurance company||1(403) 269-7961||326 11 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0C5|
|Johnson Insurance||Insurance company||14033514233||326 11 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0C5|
|LowestRates.ca||Quotes comparison||1 (855) 487-6911||1910 Yonge St. Suite 401, Toronto, ON M4S 3B2|
|RATESDOTCA||Quotes comparison||1 (844) 726-0907||225 King St W, Suite 1000, Toronto, ON, M5V 3M2|
|RSA Canada Group||Insurance company||Tel: 403-233-6000||Alberta regional office: 300, 326 - 11 Avenue SW. Calgary, Alberta T2R 0C5|
|Scoop Insurance||Insurance broker||1-866-456-6620||300 Lincoln St. Unit 22, Welland, ON L3B 4N4|
|Travelers||Insurance company||403-231-6600||530 – 8th Avenue S.W., Suite 2700 Calgary, AB T2P 3S8|
#1 - Compare rates
This tactic is recommended by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Alberta Insurance Regulation Board, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Getting car insurance quotes from different insurance companies is the best way to find your lowest rate.
#2 - Compare insurance prices before buying a car
A car's make and model will impact insurance costs. Before you buy, make sure to research which cars are the cheapest to insure in Canada.
#3 - Try usage-based insurance
Usage-based insurance refers to telematics and pay-as-you-go insurance. Both are now available in Alberta.
With a telematics program, you agree to install a device that records your driving habits. You get a discount at renewal, but only if the device shows you to be a responsible driver. The device will record:
Pay-as-you-go insurance also uses a device to record your driving patterns. You buy coverage for a set amount of kilometres (usually no more than 12,000 km a year). The device bills you for every 1,000 kilometres you go over.
#4 - Drop collision and comprehensive coverage on older cars
If you finance or lease a vehicle, collision and comprehensive are likely mandatory. If you own your car outright, you may want to consider dropping these collision and comprehensive coverages. It could be cheaper to pay for repairs yourself, especially if you drive an older car.
The following rules of thumb can help you decide whether to keep collision and comprehensive.
But before you cancel these add-ons, make sure you can handle the cost of repairing or replacing your car.
#5 - Increase your deductible
Your insurance company will generally make you share the cost of a claim with them. For example, your deductible on a $10,000 claim may be $1,000. If you offered to pay $2,000, your insurance company would lower your premium in return.
Make sure you're able to pay a higher deductible. Depending on your finances, paying a higher monthly premium may be worthwhile.
#6 - Be an all-star (driver, that is)
Insurance companies use a star rating to rank drivers. Your star rating is based on the number of years you’ve been licensed and claims-free. The more stars you have, the better. Some insurance companies award drivers up to six stars, others go all the way up to 20 — it’s different for each insurer.
#7 - Apply for as many discounts as you can
Bundling your insurance is the one most impactful ways to lower your premium. Bundling refers to buying car and home insurance from the same company. Lower premiums aren't the only benefit of bundling. If you need to claim your car and home at the same time, you'll only pay one deductible.
Here are some other discounts available to Alberta drivers:
Wondering how these discounts stack? Insurance companies take the discounts you qualify for and arrange them from largest to smallest, applying each one to your rate in succession.
#8 - Consult an insurance professional
An insurance professional will identify coverage gaps and create an insurance plan. They can also suggest discounts not listed here.
As with most large cities, busy roads, distracted driving and crime are responsible for high car insurance rates.
Calgary’s population has increased by over 100% since the early 1990s, swelling to more than 1.5 million residents. Calgary is very much a driving city, so this population boom has translated into a dramatic increase in cars on the road. As all insurance enthusiasts know, more cars on the road means more collisions which leads to higher auto insurance premiums.
Along with the rest of Canada, Alberta has a distracted driving problem. Convictions started spiking in 2012 (24,428 convictions vs. 7,829 the year before). This increase coincided with a boom in smartphone sales, and many of these convictions are indeed for people using cell phones while driving.
While the number of convictions has gone down in Calgary since peaking in 2015, the city still had 4,395 distracted driving convictions in 2019, equivalent to 45.3 per 10,000 licenced drivers. From an insurance perspective, cell phone use behind the wheel remains a serious problem, and until the data shows a significant improvement, Calgarians will continue to pay the price via elevated premiums.
The Calgary Police Commission claims that Calgary has the highest vehicle theft rate in the country, and the statistics are alarming.
In 2018, nearly 7,000 passenger vehicles were either stolen or attempted to be stolen in Calgary, which is equivalent to over 19 per day. One particularly bad period saw $1.1 million worth of cars stolen in just three months.
A significant portion of Calgary’s vehicular theft is a result of drivers leaving running vehicles unattended in the winter months. Opportunistic criminals simply hop in and drive away. Even residents of Calgary’s safest neighbourhoods fall victim to this type of crime, and Alberta’s insurance companies respond with high premiums.
No two drivers are the same and the quotes you receive will be equally unique. As a result, it is impossible to say which company offers the cheapest rate, which is why we recommend trying our free quoting tool.
What we can tell you is that last year, Calgary drivers who used RATESDOTCA saved an average of $736*.
The standard term for an insurance policy is one year.
It is possible to get insurance for six months, but few companies offer it in Alberta. It's even less likely you'll find an insurance company that offers one-month terms.
If your plans involve a vehicle that's only driven in the summer, you may want to consider seasonal insurance. Renting a car for a month might also be a suitable workaround.
Your broker or insurance agent might be able to tailor a solution to suit your needs. Try giving them a call.
Eager to zip up and down Calgary’s streets? To do it legally, you must first get insurance for your car.
There are a few routes you can take to get insurance.
Use a rates comparison site to get quotes from an array of companies.
The most efficient way to find the lowest rate is to compare offers from multiple insurance companies.
A rate comparison website will do this for you.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the Insurance Bureau of Canada recommend shopping around to find the best deal. The Automobile Insurance Rate Board recommends using RATESDOTCA to compare dozens of insurance companies within minutes.
Consult an insurance agent
Agents are dedicated to one company, so they can only show you products from their employer's range.
Suppose you already have a policy (tenant or home insurance, for example). In that case, you can speak to your current insurance provider about bundling it with an auto policy.
Bundling can help you save money on both products (companies provide discounts for the extra business). Bundling will also prevent the hassle of dealing with two separate companies.
The downside is that the company you choose may not offer you the best deal.
Even if you choose a brand out of familiarity, it's worthwhile to take a peek and see what other companies could do for you. Shopping around for quotes is fast and free.
Consult an insurance broker
A broker is an independent insurance professional. They have permission to sell products from multiple insurance providers. They also have a wealth of insurance knowledge to help guide you.
Brokers are eligible to receive a commission from the companies they advertise. However, the province regulates brokers to ensure they make recommendations based on the client's best interest.
Using a broker is better than choosing a company based on a brand name. But working with one has downsides.
No broker has the entire insurance market in their portfolio or access to all products.
It can be challenging to choose a broker unless you have a referral from a trusted source. There are so many of them, and there are no outward criteria to sort them by (other than advertisements).
They also charge fees for their services.
On the other hand, rate comparison sites rely on an algorithm to bring you a multitude of quotes in minutes for free.
If you have a broker you know and trust, know that you're not reliant on them to bring you the deals. You can cross-check their recommendations with a rate comparison. Applying for quotes is free.
Uber has had a topsy turvy ride in Calgary; it initially launched in 2015, before facing a court injunction and suspending operations, and was relaunched more successfully in 2016. Shortly afterwards, the Superintendent of Insurance of Alberta approved a new ridesharing insurance policy which came into effect on July 1, 2016.
If you are planning on driving for a ridesharing platform in Calgary, you must inform your insurance provider to modify your coverage.
*Shoppers in Alberta who obtained a quote on RATESDOTCA and transacted via our contact centre from January to December 2021 saved an average amount of $736. The average savings amount represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of all other quoted premiums generated by RATESDOTCA.