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How a Clean Driving Record Can Help Keep Your Car Insurance Premium Low

May 4, 2021
4 mins
A young man and woman look at their finances and smile happily

Everyone thinks they are a good driver, but the devil is in the details.

For example, a recent RATESDOTCA survey of Canadian drivers found one in four (25%) admit to making phone calls while driving without using any hands-free or Bluetooth options, and 26% admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviours regularly. What’s more, 49% of drivers who make calls, 43% who text, and 57% who watch videos while driving think such reckless behaviour is safe(!).

Suppose you’re not among the distracted phone heads on the road who put others and themselves at considerable risk. Bully for you! An experienced driver with a clean driving record – someone with no at-fault collisions in the past six years or traffic-related convictions in the past three years – has a far greater chance of finding affordable car insurance because it suggests they are less likely to file an auto claim.

There are other factors insurers use to calculate your premium too, including:

  • The type of vehicle you drive
  • Where you live
  • Your age, gender, and marital status
  • How you use your vehicle (for commuting or pleasure) and how many kilometres you drive each year
  • The number of years you’ve been licensed (six years or more counts as an experienced driver)

The benefits of having a clean driving record

Beyond getting the cheapest rate you can for the type of coverage you need, there are a few other ways a spotless driving record can benefit you:

  • You have more options to find the coverage you want from a larger pool of insurance companies.
  • Many insurers offer discounts to good drivers, such as a claims-free discount of 10% or more, a conviction-free discount of 10% or more, and an accident forgiveness clause whereby you will be “forgiven” by the insurer if you get into one at-fault accident. That means they won’t jack up your rate at renewal for that one incident.
  • No stress. You don’t need to worry about paying traffic fines, demerit points, dealing with a licence suspension, or any auto claims.
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I have a clean driving record but got a rate increase. What gives?

Sometimes, drivers with clean records and claims-free histories see a rate increase despite having no at-fault collisions or traffic convictions. It is maddening.

But it’s your province’s insurance regulator that determines if your car insurance provider may increase or decrease your premium. An insurance company might request a rate increase from a provincial regulator – in Ontario, it’s the Financial Services Regulatory Authority; in Alberta, it’s the Automobile Insurance Rate Board – for several reasons. For example, they consider what they will need to payout in collision claims, and the cost to repair technologically advanced vehicles is rising.

Moreover, car insurance is a risk pool all drivers share. Distracted driving is a significant problem in Canada and is the cause of many collisions, fatalities, and injuries. Impaired driving is a recurring nightmare that also ups the risk.

Insurance fraud is yet another problem, and it costs Ontario drivers an estimated $236 per year, which we pay through our auto policies. Plus, let’s not overlook that vehicle theft is always an issue, and in some parts of the country, it’s on the rise.

Last but not least, the increasing ferocity and severity of storms and natural disasters such as floods lead to expensive claims for repairing or writing off vehicles. (Note: you need to add optional comprehensive or all-perils coverage to your auto policy to protect your vehicle against damages from natural disasters.)

You can’t control these things, but you can control what you do behind the wheel. That’s the best way to shield yourself from these issues and get an affordable car insurance policy: stick to being a safe driver and protect your driving record.

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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