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Frequently asked questions about Ottawa car insurance

How much does car insurance cost in Ottawa?

You are a complex organism, one-of-a-kind, impossible to replicate, nobody can put you in a box! Car insurance companies completely agree, and for this reason, your insurance rate will be unique too, factoring in your address, your annual mileage, your vehicle, even your favourite Sens player. Okay, not that last one, but the point is, every driver is different. Accurately predicting car insurance rates is impossible without first answering a few questions about your driving history.

Take 5 minutes to complete our quoter and we’ll help find you the best car insurance for the best price. We work with Canada’s top insurance providers and last year, we saved Ottawa drivers an average of $298.76 on car insurance.*

Our service is free, the quotes we show you are accurate, and if you don’t find a price that you like, there is no obligation to buy. Try it out for yourself!

* Savings are calculated by deducting the lowest available quote from the second lowest available quote. In 2018 the average savings for Ottawa drivers was $298.76.

How does car insurance work in Ottawa?

Auto insurance works the same in Ottawa as it does in the rest of Ontario. All car owners must have car insurance, and insurance policies must include Third-Party Liability, Direct Compensation Property Damage, Statutory Accident Benefits and Uninsured Automobile Coverage.

Most Ontario drivers enhance this coverage by adding optional extras, like Collision and Comprehensive.

In the event of a car accident, Ontario has a “no fault” car insurance system, which means you make a claim through your own insurance provider, regardless of who is at fault.

Insurance companies propose rate changes on a quarterly basis, and they get approved or denied by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA).

This is a high level summary, take a look at our Ontario page for more information about car insurance in Ontario.

Is Ottawa a city of good drivers?

Ottawa is a bit of an anomaly, being a major city and yet home to some of the safest roads in Canada. This flies in the face the statistical trends we see in the rest of Canada, which link urban density and larger populations with more car accidents. Ottawa has more than half a million drivers, and yet traffic within the city is relatively light. The suburbs see significant congestions during weekday rush hour, but collision rates remain low in comparison.

According to the most recent Road Safety Report commissioned by the City of Ottawa, Ottawa has averaged 27 fatal collisions per year for the last five years, or 2.89 fatalities per 100,000 population. While far from perfect, it is significantly lower than the provincial average of 4.1 per 100,000, and the national average of 5 per 100,000 (Government of Canada, Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics: 2017).

Car insurance companies also consider the likelihood of your car getting stolen when determining auto insurance rates, with high crime linked to high insurance rates. While police reports show that auto theft does appear to be creeping up, Ottawa still fares well in comparison with other large Canadian cities.

There is some bad news. The municipal transit service, OC Transpo, has had more on-board collision fatalities in the last 10 years than the transit services of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg combined. However, OC Transpo officials have responded by limiting speeds and reducing passenger capacity on their buses, and it remains statistically safer than driving yourself.

Overall, Ottawa is one of the safest major cities in the world for driving. If you’re not seeing this reflected in your auto insurance premiums, it’s time to compare rates.

How do Ottawa’s car insurance prices compare with the rest of Ontario?

Safer roads mean lower insurance rates right? Right! Individual rates vary wildly, but the average Ottawa driver pays around $1,100 per year. This compares very favourably with the rest of Ontario, which according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, pays $1,445 each year on average; and even better than in Toronto, where drivers have to stump up about $2,000 for their annual car insurance.

All of this is good news for Ottawa’s drivers, but make sure you are getting the best possible price by comparing quotes on RATESDOTCA.

How much can I save on Ottawa car insurance with RATESDOTCA?

Naturally, this depends on how much you are currently paying, but we work with Canada’s best car insurance providers to find you the best available deals. We ask a few simple questions about your driving history, and then show you the best rates in one place, so you can make an informed decision without having to waste hours calling all of the individual companies for quotes.

Last year, Ottawa drivers who compared quotes on RATESDOTCA saved an average of $298.76.* Just think of how many BeaverTails you could buy with that!

* Savings are calculated by deducting the lowest available quote from the second-lowest available quote. In 2018 the average savings for Ottawa drivers was $298.76.

Tips for driving in Ottawa

Do I need a car if I am visiting Ottawa?

Nope. Most of Ottawa’s tourist attractions are within walking distance of one another, or easily accessible by public transport.

Which areas are the worst for driving?

One enduring challenge for drivers in Ottawa is that two rivers and a canal cut through the city, and traffic can sometimes bottleneck around the limited number of bridges that cross these waterways. Both of Ottawa’s major highway corridors (the 417 Queensway and Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 174) get congested during the morning commute. Albert and Slater streets are notorious for traffic congestion and sudden stops due to the constant presence of slow-moving buses. There are also significant restrictions on right turns from these streets. If you are in a hurry, avoid them during rush hour! Anywhere in the downtown core poses an elevated risk to drivers, as the prevalent one-way streets are confusing and not always well signed.

More tips:

  • Watch out for wildlife - Once you leave the downtown core, beware of deer crossing! Surprisingly, Ottawa drivers have a consistently higher number of wild animal collisions than any of the other 53 counties in Ontario.
  • Get winter tires - While Ottawa is a relatively safe city to drive in, the city does have to endure a brutal winter, during which time the roads may be covered in slippery ice. Just a couple of years ago, there was a 20-vehicle pileup on Highway 417 due to snow and high winds. Bonus tip: Be sure to invest in some decent winter tires and you could be rewarded with a five percent discount on your car insurance premium.
  • Parking downtown - Ottawa’s parking metres are set deliberately high in an effort to encourage transit use in the city centre. However, it is worth remembering that free parking is often available on weekends and after 3:30PM.
  • What are the red licence plates all about? - Ottawa is Canada’s political centre and as such it is home to many foreign embassies and high commissions. A car with a red license plate means it belongs to a foreign embassy. A very low number on a red plate means it belongs to a high-ranking individual, likely an ambassador.

Alternatives to driving

Your car insurance premium will be lower if you drive less, and if you are lucky enough to live in Ottawa, you are not beholden to the automobile!

OC Transpo have a fleet of almost one thousand buses and they cover all corners of the city. Dedicated bus lanes are closed to regular traffic, meaning it is often faster than driving yourself. The O-Train is Ottawa’s light rail service, running about 8km from the north of the city to the south. It too is isolated from road traffic, making it an efficient option for getting across town. Construction is underway on a new light rail line, which will add 40 km and 22 more stations by 2023.

In the warmer months, cycling is a very pleasant alternative to driving in Ottawa. There are lots of bike trails and on-street bike lanes (and not many hills!).

In the colder months, many locals use their skates to get around. The Rideau Canal (the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America), freezes over, and ice skaters can use it to get from Carleton University in the south of the city, to Rideau Centre in the downtown core. If you wrap up warm, it sure beats sitting in traffic.

Save on Ottawa car insurance today

Ottawa is a beautiful city, jam-packed with interesting things to see and do, and it has some of the safest roads in Canada. None-the-less, all drivers need car insurance, and the best way to ensure you are getting the best possible deal is by comparing quotes on RATESDOTCA. Go ahead, see how much you can save.

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