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Are You Commuting Again? Let Your Car Insurance Provider Know

Aug. 31, 2021
5 mins
A man in a suit sits smiling in the driver's seat of a vehicle

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, several car insurance providers started offering discounts to their customers if they were driving less, providing financial relief to many people. However, as vaccines have become readily available in Canada, some businesses have begun reopening and letting more staff go into work.

As Canada enters its fourth wave, some workers might not need to return to the office anytime soon. But depending upon your occupation, you may need to commute regularly again, possibly in a hybrid work model. That means you might be driving more if you don’t want to take or don’t have access to public transit.

Why does mileage matter to my insurance provider?

If you drive one kilometre to get to the grocery store every week, it’s not a very long trip. If you drive to and from work every day, your time on the road is longer. The more time you spend driving, the odds of you getting in a collision increase. This is one factor insurance companies consider when determining your car insurance premium.

According to our friends over at InsuranceHotline.com, Ontarians drove an average of 14,448 kilometres in 2020. If you drive half that distance, your premiums should be lower because you’re not on the road as often. Other factors that can determine your premiums include your age (the younger you are, the more you pay), your location (urban areas are denser, so the number of accidents and claims are higher), and your gender (men typically pay more than women as they’re more likely to be in an accident).

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Last year, many Canadians moved out of big cities to break into the housing market, buy larger homes, or be closer to family. If you happened to be one of those people, you’re likely now farther away from your workplace. As a result, your premiums should rise when you start going back into the office because your commute will be longer.

Calculating your mileage

If you’re going back to the office soon on a full-time basis or will have to commute a few days a week, you’ll have to determine how much you’ll be driving. You can do this in three easy steps:

  • Calculate your weekday commute by using Google Maps — If you travel 10 kilometres one way, multiply that by two and by the number of days you’ll be going to work. For example, if you expect to work five days a week, you’ll be commuting 100 kilometres a week on weekdays.
  • Calculate your weekend commute — A good rule of practice is to use the amount you drive on a weekday and double it. In the example above, that number is 20 kilometres a day. Doubling it gives you 40 kilometres. If you plan on taking several road trips in the fall, that number will be higher.
  • Calculate your annual mileage — Add your weekday and weekend commutes together and multiply by 52 (the number of weeks in a year). If you drive 100 kilometres a week and 40 kilometres on the weekend, your annual mileage will be 7,280 kilometres.

Tips for commuting

When you do begin heading back into the office, there will likely be an adjustment period. The days of a one-minute commute to the home office will end eventually. You’re going to deal with more drivers than you have in a while and get stuck in traffic again. Here are some things you should do when you begin to commute again:

  • Notify your insurance company — If you received a discount for not commuting to work, you should tell your insurance provider that you’re commuting again. Otherwise, you might not have the coverage you need if you’re involved in an accident.
  • Get your vehicle ready — If you haven’t been driving a lot lately, you should check that your car is fit for the road. You should test the battery, inflate your tires, repair any chips in the windshield, and have the vehicle inspected.
  • Make some changes — The commute to work isn’t always fun if you’re stuck in traffic every day. To avoid congestion on the road, you may want to consider leaving 30 minutes earlier. You can also try to change it up by parking 10 or 15 minutes away from the office, so you have a bit of time to walk and get some exercise before starting your day. If possible, you can also take public transit or ride your bike to work certain days of the week to make every day a little different and potentially lower your car insurance premiums.

Keep calm and drive on

Life will return to normal, and when it does, you’ll be on the road more often. Don’t forget to tell your insurance provider, keep your vehicle in good condition, and look for ways to make changes to your daily commute. It can help keep your vehicle costs low and ensure you have the proper car insurance coverage as you return to the workplace.

Craig Sebastiano

Craig Sebastiano is an award-winning writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications. He’s written about a number of financial topics, including investing, real estate, robo-advisors, mortgages, credit cards, pensions, taxes, insurance, RRSPs, and TFSAs. Craig’s work has appeared in MoneySense, Morningstar, Benefits Canada, Advisor’s Edge, Job Postings, and Ryerson University Magazine. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and is an avid do-it-yourself investor.

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