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How an At-Fault Collision Affects Car Insurance Premiums by Age Group

Sept. 14, 2021
7 mins
Older gentleman driving and happily chatting with his passenger

When you’re involved in a collision, insurance providers use a set of provincial or industry-wide guidelines to determine fault.

In Ontario, for instance, the government regulates the Fault Determination Rules, while in Alberta, fault is determined via the Traffic Safety Act.

The fault rules will differ depending on a province’s insurance system — either a no-fault system, tort system, or hybrid model.

  • No-fault insurance: This type of coverage provides benefits to cover expenses regardless of who is responsible for the collision. However, the driver has limited rights to sue.
  • Tort insurance: This type of coverage generally provides basic coverage but enables the driver to sue for expenses not covered by the benefits. In provinces like Saskatchewan, drivers must opt into this type of coverage by filing a declaration form.
  • Hybrid no-fault system: In provinces like Quebec, drivers submit specific claims through government insurance, like bodily injury, and others through private insurance, like comprehensive.

Within any system, if you are found to be at fault or partially at fault for a collision, you’re almost guaranteed to see an auto insurance rate hike at renewal time. However, according to RATESDOTCA data, not all drivers fare the same in terms of how much their premium will increase. Insurance providers determine your rate using several factors, including your age. And our data show that the premium hike drivers face after an at-fault collision varies by generation.

We looked at RATESDOTCA data of drivers in Ontario and Alberta who purchased a car insurance policy between 2018 and 2020 after getting free quotes on our site. We then broke the data out by age group and compared the average annual premium for drivers with clean driving records with the average premium for drivers with at least one at-fault collision in the last 11 years. Here’s what we found:

Ontario drivers 75 years and older face highest premium increase after at-fault collision

* – We define generations as follows: 75 years or older, which includes the Silent Generation; Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and are currently 57-75 years old; Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980 and are currently 41-56 years old; Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 and are presently between 25 and 40; Generation Z was born between 1997 and 2012 and are currently between six and 24 years old.

  • On average, the oldest drivers on Ontario’s roads (motorists aged 75 or older) who have at least one at-fault collision pay 49% more for an auto policy than their counterparts who have no collisions. When compared against all other age groups in Ontario, these drivers see the highest premium increases if they have an at-fault collision.
  • The youngest drivers on Ontario’s roads, Generation Z, experience the second-highest premium increase of all age groups after an at-fault collision, at 35%. However, this generation typically pays the highest premiums out of all age groups, even with clean driving records. That’s because drivers with fewer years on the road tend to pay higher rates until they accumulate more driving experience and good insurance history.
  • Although collision-free Baby Boomers pay less than $2,000 a year for car insurance in Ontario, the second-lowest premium on average, this generation sees the second-highest increase in premiums after an at-fault collision, at 35% — a spot they’re tied for with Generation Z.

Gen-Z drivers pay highest auto insurance premiums of all generations in Alberta

* – We define generations as follows: 75 years or older, which includes the Silent Generation; Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and are currently 57-75 years old; Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980 and are currently 41-56 years old; Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 and are presently between 25 and 40; Generation Z was born between 1997 and 2012 and are currently between six and 24 years old.

  • Alberta drivers aged 75 or older and Baby Boomers with an at-fault collision pay 22% more for an auto policy than their cohorts with zero at-fault collisions on their records.
  • As in Ontario, Gen-Z drivers in Alberta typically pay the highest premium for an auto policy since young drivers are considered the riskiest motorists on the road.
  • The rate increase Gen-Z drivers in Alberta with at-fault collisions see is notably less than what their Ontario counterparts face — $2,000 less annually, on average. The population density in Ontario, which is almost three times that of Alberta, could play a role in this, as there are more drivers on the road and the probability of claims being made is increased.

How does ageing affect safe driving?

As we age, changes to our health can affect our driving abilities.

For instance, senior drivers may find it challenging to see in the dark or notice things in their peripheral vision. In addition, there may be physical and cognitive decline or medications they need to take that could cause impairment.

One of the factors insurance companies in Canada weigh when pricing an auto insurance policy is a driver’s age, and another is the number of at-fault collisions on their driving record.

Whether young or young at heart, road safety is everyone’s responsibility

An at-fault collision remains on your driving record for up to six years. If your insurance provider were to apply a surcharge for the entire period, it could cost you thousands of extra dollars.

Taking the example of a Gen-Z driver in Ontario with an at-fault collision, the 35% increase on their premium (roughly $1,504) works out to an estimated $9,024 over six years compared to a Gen-Z driver who is collision-free. That’s a lot of money.

Fortunately, most insurance providers will gradually decrease the surcharge with each collision-free year the driver maintains.

What to do if you’re in a collision

Even good drivers can find themselves in a collision, but to maintain your low auto insurance premium, you’ll have to prove that you’re not at fault.

If you’ve been in a collision in Ontario, pull over on the shoulder of the road and stop as soon as it is safe to do so. If you don’t stop, you could be subject to criminal prosecution for a hit-and-run. Next, call the police if anyone has been injured or the damage to all vehicles involved appears to be more than $2,000. If the damage appears to be less than $2,000, report the collision at a collision reporting centre within 24 hours. The collision reporting centre must be in the city in which the crash occurred.

If your vehicle can’t be driven, turn on your hazard lights, signalling your presence to other drivers, and wait for emergency services or a tow truck. At the scene, exchange information with the other driver(s), including names, addresses, vehicle information, insurance details, and the number of passengers. Take pictures of your vehicle and any other vehicle involved in the collision. If there are tire marks on the road or other evidence, make sure to capture that as well. Make a note of precisely what happened while the details are fresh in your mind to use when filing your collision report.

Never verbally admit fault or promise to pay for damage at the scene. Let the insurance adjusters analyze the evidence and determine who is liable. Apologizing, admitting to wrongdoing, or taking responsibility for the collision can work against your claim.

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Don't waste time calling around for auto insurance

Use RATESDOTCA to shop around, and compare multiple quotes at the same time.

Regardless of your age, one thing the RATESDOTCA data make clear is the value of having a clean driving record, since avoiding at-fault collisions and traffic convictions will result in a higher car insurance premium no matter your age. If you're looking for car insurance in Ontario after an at-fault collision, compare rates to make sure you're getting the best deal. And, while car insurance in Alberta is generally cheaper than in Ontario, an at-fault collision on your record can be costly. Fortunately, you can save money by shopping around.

Hayley Osmond

Hayley Osmond is an editor and writer in the personal finance space, where she uses her eight years of media and marketing experience to bring content to life. She specializes in money products, including mortgages, home and auto insurance, and credit cards. Hayley holds a Broadcast Journalism diploma from Sheridan College and was awarded the Shaw Media Journalism and Media Award for graduating at the top of her class. Her work has appeared in Global News and diverse digital corporate training materials behind the scenes.

Hayley is passionate about making complex subjects, such as home buying and financial literacy, concise and intriguing. Her work has garnered media coverage from The Globe and Mail, blogTO, Yahoo! News, and CityNews 680 and has been syndicated across other publications.

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