This article has been updated from a previous version.
A spotty driving record can make it difficult for anyone to get an affordable car insurance rate.
If you have been in a collision, have a number of traffic infractions, or a combination of the two, you may be classified as a high-risk driver. Not only should you expect to pay more for car insurance, but you may also have a tough time finding a standard company that will insure you.
What is a high-risk driver?
A high-risk driver is someone who an insurance company believes is a bigger-than-average risk and poses a greater chance of filing a claim. For example, if you have an impaired driving conviction, speeding conviction, been involved in at-fault collisions, or had your policy cancelled, you may be considered a high-risk driver.
Although a standard insurance company may refuse to offer you coverage if you’re deemed “high risk,” the insurance industry can’t refuse to offer you basic auto insurance. It’s against the law to drive without auto insurance, so you’ll need to obtain at least basic coverage if you want to drive anywhere in Canada.
There are several insurance companies that deal exclusively with high-risk drivers, such as Pafco, Jevco (Kingsway), and Coachman Insurance. If you don’t have any luck with these companies, you can go to the Facility Association as a last resort. The Facility Association is an insurance pool that all auto insurance providers support. It offers high-risk drivers the chance to obtain car insurance and improve their record by driving safely and avoiding collisions and traffic infractions.
How do I get a copy of my driving history?
Chances are you weren’t always considered a high-risk driver.
Perhaps you were deemed a high-risk driver after receiving an impaired driving conviction twice within a year. Before embarking on a quest to find high-risk car insurance, find out what your driving record or abstract states. It contains your entire driving history and can provide some insight into why your auto insurance premium is what it is.
In Ontario, there are different types of driving records you can access, though some restrictions and fees may be applicable. For instance, you can request an uncertified copy of your driver’s licence history upon completing a driving education course for $12 through ServiceOntario.
In other provinces like Alberta, motorists can get a standard driver abstract after filling out an application and submitting it to ServiceAlberta or by requesting one online with a verified MyAlberta Digital ID. It costs around $23 for Albertans to obtain their personal driver abstracts.
How can a high-risk driver reduce their car insurance premium?
If you’ve been classified as a high-risk driver, try taking a defensive driving course or a safe driving program recognized by your insurance company. It may result in a discount on your premium.
Other ways to shave a few dollars off your annual premium might include the vehicle you drive. For example, many insurance providers may offer lower rates to customers who drive vehicles with anti-theft devices and safety features. Be sure to let your provider know what loss prevention features your vehicle has. It’s also worthwhile to consider driving a vehicle that isn’t likely to get stolen, or one with recognized safety awards. The Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) system assigns a rating to your vehicle based on these factors, which contributes to your premium, along with other factors like where you live.
Another thing to consider is increasing your deductible. For example, if your deductible is $1,000 and you make a claim for $3,000, your insurance provider is only responsible for paying $2,000. By opting for a higher deductible, you’ll reduce the amount your insurance provider has to pay out, and they’ll likely reward you by reducing your premium. But be sure you can afford that arrangement. If you need to file a claim, you’ll be responsible for paying a larger portion of the bill to repair your vehicle.
How to find auto insurance as a high-risk driver
Though high-risk drivers may have higher insurance premiums overall, rates can still vary considerably from one insurance company to another. Since each company has its own criteria for high-risk drivers, there are opportunities to find the car insurance policy you need at a reasonable rate.
When shopping for high-risk insurance, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. If the premium on one auto insurance policy is a lot lower than others, talk to the provider to make sure the coverage being offered is comparable and adequate. If you’ve been involved in serious at-fault collisions or received a number of infractions, the last thing you want to be is underinsured.
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