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Do Drivers Who’ve Had an Accident Select Higher Car Insurance Deductibles?

May 26, 2021
7 mins
A young couple review their finances with paperwork and a laptop

If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident and had to file a claim with your insurer, chances are you’ve been told you need to pay a deductible for the damages to your vehicle before your car insurance coverage pays out.

Many people may be confused by that: pay a deductible before my coverage applies? Why? And how much?

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay towards the repair costs when filing a collision or comprehensive claim. When setting up an auto policy, you are given the option to choose the deductible amount. In the simplest terms, the higher your deductible is, the lower your overall premium will be. If you have optional collision and comprehensive coverages, each will feature a deductible amount you can select. There is no deductible involved for your policy’s mandatory third-party liability coverage.

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With respect to driving, experience behind the wheel and on the road counts for a lot. If you’ve gone through the experience of filing a claim following a collision, you know what it means to shell out funds to cover your deductible. For example, if you chose a high deductible amount to save money on your premium – picking a $1,000 deductible instead of a $500 deductible – you know you had to come up with a grand to get the repairs to your vehicle underway. Which begs the question: do drivers who’ve had the misfortune of being in a car accident choose higher deductible amounts? We endeavoured to find out.

Using data compiled by RATESDOTCA of drivers across different age groups in Ontario and Alberta who got an auto policy quote between January 2018 and December 2020, we looked into the coverages and deductibles they chose. We segmented those drivers between those who have filed at least one claim or are claims-free, as well as by generation and whether they live in urban or rural regions.

Choosing a deductible: what are the options?

On RATESDOTCA’s free-to-use car insurance quoting tool, drivers can select the deductible amounts they want for collision and comprehensive coverages. They can choose “minimum” (no collision or comprehensive coverages), “standard” (a $1,000 deductible and $1 million worth of third-party liability), “enhanced” (a $500 deductible and $2 million worth of liability protection), or “custom” vehicle coverages, which gives drivers the option of choosing different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

What deductibles did Ontario drivers select?

Claims? Year No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductibe Custom*
No 2018 25.5% 56.9% 5.9% 10.9%
Yes 2018 13.5% 54.2% 17.1% 15.3%
No 2019 26.1% 57.5% 8% 8.8%
Yes 2019 12.7% 58.7% 16.1% 12.7%
No 2020 29.6% 66.4% 7.2% 6.6%
Yes 2020 16% 67.8% 17.1% 11.4%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Whether they have filed claims or not, the majority of Ontario drivers (54.2% to 67.8%) tend to select standard coverage year-over-year.
  • A larger proportion of drivers with at least one claim are more inclined to choose an enhanced or customized coverage year-over-year.

Talkin’ about my generation: the deductibles different generations of Ontario drivers selected

Generation Claims? No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
Baby Boomers No 25.9% 58.1% 11.3% 10%
Baby Boomers Yes 13.7% 58.2% 21.8% 11.7%
Generation X No 24.6% 62.7% 8.8% 9.1%
Generation X Yes 14.5% 61% 16.9% 13.2%
Older Generation Y No 23.9% 65.7% 7.1% 8.2%
Older Generation Y Yes 12.4% 62.5% 16% 13.7%
Younger Generation Y No 31.4% 61.9% 4.6% 6.5%
Younger Generation Y Yes 17.7% 65.5% 10.8% 11.1%
Generation Z No 51.9% 44.4% 2.4% 5.2%
Generation Z Yes 32.4% 52.9% 5.9% 8.8%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Across all generations, most Ontarians selected standard coverage year-over-year.
  • Slightly more than half of younger Ontario drivers (Generation Z) who’ve never filed an auto claim may be taking a gamble by not buying collision or comprehensive coverages (51.9%). Even 32.4% of Gen Z drivers who have filed at least one claim chose not to purchase collision or comprehensive coverages.
  • 31.4% of Younger Generation Y drivers with no claims also opted to do without collision or comprehensive protection.

What deductibles did Ontario drivers who live in cities select?

Claims? Year No Coveragee $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
No 2018 25% 57.3% 6.8% 11%
Yes 2018 13.2% 54.8% 16.6% 15.5%
No 2019 25.7% 57.9% 8% 8.7%
Yes 2019 12.2% 58.9% 16.1% 13%
No 2020 29.2% 66.9% 7.1% 6.6%
Yes 2020 16% 67.9% 16.9% 11.5%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • The majority of Ontario drivers who live in cities selected standard coverage whether they have filed an auto claim or not.
  • Having had the experience of being in an accident and filing a claim, a greater number of city-based drivers opt for enhanced coverage (a $500 deductible), suggesting they’d rather pay a higher premium in exchange for a lower deductible.

What deductibles did Ontario drivers who live in rural regions select?

Claims? Year No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
No 2018 32.9% 51% 7.8% 8.5%
Yes 2018 16.5% 47.4% 22.7% 13.4%
No 2019 31.1% 51.8% 8.3% 9.3%
Yes 2019 18.9% 55.3% 17.4% 8.3%
No 2020 34.9% 60.2% 8.7% 6.1%
Yes 2020 15.8% 67.3% 19.3% 9.9%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Ontario drivers who live in rural areas aren’t too different from their city-dwelling counterparts in that a majority gravitate toward choosing standard coverage whether they’ve been in a collision or not.
  • Interestingly, more rural-based drivers chose to go without any collision or comprehensive coverage than do those who live in cities, possibly suggesting motorists who live in small towns or the country are not terribly concerned about filing an auto claim.
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What deductibles did Alberta drivers select?

Claims? Year No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
No 2018 32.3% 18.3% 3.3% 46.7%
Yes 2018 18.4% 24.5% 6.7% 51.4%
No 2019 20% 51.4% 11.2% 17.9%
Yes 2019 9.1% 48% 16.9% 26.4%
No 2020 33.1% 59.7% 7.2% 11.3%
Yes 2020 15.4% 65.2% 15.7% 20.2%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Like drivers in Ontario, most Alberta drivers selected standard ($1,000) deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverages each year except in 2018 when more drivers opted to customize their deductibles whether they filed claims (51.4%) or not (46.7%).
  • A higher proportion of drivers in Alberta selected customized coverage than their Ontario counterparts whether they filed any claims or not.

Generational divides: the deductibles different generations of Alberta drivers selected

Generation Claims? No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
Baby Boomers No 25.4% 46.9% 9.4% 23.9%
Baby Boomers Yes 13.7% 56.5% 13.7% 27.5%
Generation X No 25.4% 50.3% 9.4% 21.7%
Generation X Yes 13.3% 47% 20.1% 27.7%
Older Generation Y No 27% 51.6% 7.6% 20.7%
Older Generation Y Yes 13.8% 49.7% 14.4% 29.6%
Younger Generation Y No 35.1% 48.5% 4.5% 17.7%
Younger Generation Y Yes 11.2% 61.2% 3.4% 29.3%
Generation Z No 65.6% 27.1% 0.2% 11.3%
Generation Z Yes 66.7% 44.4% 0% 0%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Whether they filed a claim previously or not, the majority of Alberta drivers across all generations tend to choose standard coverage year-over-year.
  • The youngest drivers on the road in Alberta, Generation Z, are more likely to go without any collision or comprehensive coverages whether they’ve filed an auto claim previously or not. These drivers may be taking a significant risk in that if they get into an accident and their vehicle needs repairs, or a natural disaster strikes and it is damaged, they’ll have to pay the full repair bill themselves.

What deductibles did Alberta drivers who live in cities select?

Claims? Year No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
No 2018 32.4% 18.1% 3.3% 46.6%
Yes 2018 17.9% 25.2% 6.6% 51.7%
No 2019 20% 51.7% 11.1% 17.7%
Yes 2019 9.2% 48.9% 16.2% 26.1%
No 2020 33% 60% 7.2% 11.2%
Yes 2020 15.8% 65.1% 16.4% 20.1%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • Most Alberta drivers who live in cities typically choose standard coverage year-over-year.
  • In 2018, a greater number of drivers opted for customized coverage whether they filed a claim (51.7%) or not (46.6%).

What deductibles did Alberta drivers who live in rural regions select?

Claims? Year No Coverage $1,000 Deductible $500 Deductible Custom*
No 2018 29.7% 21.6% 2.7% 48%
Yes 2018 25% 16.7% 8.3% 50%
No 2019 20% 45.5% 12.7% 21.8%
Yes 2019 8.3% 37.5% 25% 29.2%
No 2020 34.9% 54.5% 8.1% 12.7%
Yes 2020 8.7% 65.2% 4.3% 21.7%

* An option to choose different deductibles for both collision and comprehensive coverages.

  • As in Ontario, a significant number of drivers living in rural regions in Alberta are more likely to go without collision or comprehensive coverages.
  • While the majority of rural-based drivers in Alberta opted for standard coverage, many also chose to customize their coverage year-over-year.

Things to consider when picking auto insurance deductibles

Choosing what your deductible amounts should be for collision and comprehensive coverages can be tricky. On one hand, going low likely means a higher car insurance premium. On the other hand, opting for a higher deductible amount can help reduce your overall premium. Before deciding, think about the following:

  • Can you afford to pay a $1,000 deductible if you had to file a claim? If you have the savings set aside, then chances are you need not worry, but if you’re on a tight monthly budget, make sure you can afford to cough up the funds if you must.
  • Is your vehicle 10-years-old or older? If so, you may wish to forego buying comprehensive insurance. If you’re driving a car or truck that isn’t a decade old or more, comprehensive coverage can help protect you in the event of vandalism, theft, or damages to your wheels from a major storm. This type of coverage isn’t terribly expensive, so choosing a low deductible may be your best option.
  • How much do you drive, how do you drive, and where? Even a good driver can get into an accident. If you don’t add optional collision insurance to your policy, you’re on your own to replace or pay for any damages to your vehicle resulting from a car accident. Of note, in Ontario, you are only required to pay a collision deductible if you are at fault for an accident. If you’re not at fault, your policy’s mandatory Direct Compensation-Property Damage (DCPD) coverage pays for the damages to your vehicle.
Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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