The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and greatly affected our daily routines, including how much we drive our cars. With large segments of society being put in lockdown, such as schools and businesses, plus work-from-home measures, the need to travel has declined rapidly, leaving your vehicle in an idle state more than usual.
This reduction in your time on the road could mean savings on car insurance. Provincial insurance regulators and some private insurers have made fee concessions and rebates available due to the change in driving habits.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada, which represents insurance companies across Canada, says its members are offering relief measures that could add up to $600 million worth of rebates and discounts. This will be great news for those looking to save a little cash during a time when finances are uncertain.
Since every province governs auto insurance differently, we’ll look at how each province is administering these rebates and discounts, what companies are making them available, and see which ones you may qualify for.
Canada’s most populous province has some of the country’s busiest highways (401!) and ever since the COVID-19 lockdown some of that notorious traffic has eased considerably. In mid-April, the province’s insurance governing body cut red tape and made it easier for providers to offer rebates on premiums.
While the province is not dictating what amount the rebates should be, private insurers, such as AllState, have quickly responded with “stay-at-home” rebates as high as 25% per month (75% if you park the car in storage). There has also been widespread payment deferral allowances and the waiving of fees for instances of insufficient funds. Check with your insurance provider to see what rebates they are offering and consider shopping around for a new provider, if necessary.
The province of Quebec’s governing body for car insurance providers, SSQ Insurance, announced in early April that it will offer a 20% monthly premium rebate to its clients to pass on to drivers. This means a straight 20% rebate across the board for drivers whether they have reduced usage or not. This was retroactive to April 1, so be sure you are getting that discount. SSQ Insurance has also put relief measures in place like flexible payment options and no fees for insufficient funds.
In BC, all car insurance is provided by a government entity known as ICBC and unfortunately for drivers in the westernmost province, any rebates on monthly premiums have yet to appear. Unlike other provinces, BC drivers have not received any relief on car insurance rates, despite being the most expensive in the country.
What ICBC has done is waived insurance cancellation fees ($30). That means if you have multiple cars and you’re only using one, you might consider cancelling insurance on the other. You might also be able to cancel your insurance and sign up for a new, less expensive policy that takes into account your reduced vehicle usage. Keep in mind your car must be insured to park on the street, so cancelling outright is only possible if you have a garage or underground parking.
Drivers in the prairie province must use private car insurance, but so far the Alberta government has not stepped in to mandate any rebates. That’s unfortunate because Alberta pays the third-highest premiums in Canada. There is hope, however, as some national insurance companies are offering up to 25% reductions on May’s monthly premiums. Also worth pointing out is CAA Insurance and Co-operators are offering a 10% rate reduction for eligible policyholders. In this situation, it’s best to contact your provider and see what they are offering, if anything.
Other provinces are taking various approaches depending on the degree of involvement the government has in auto insurance.
Manitoba, which runs all car insurance in the province, will be issuing rebate cheques that equate to 11% of last year’s premiums. That will work out to about $150 per average policyholder.
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, runs a similar government-controlled insurance provider (SGI) but is not currently offering any discounts.
Most Maritime provinces have similar systems as Ontario and Alberta and any discount or rebate will be at the discretion of the insurance provider.
Your insurance premiums are determined by multiple factors, but the amount you drive is one of the biggest. Whether you designate your car for commuting to work or for pleasure, it will have a big impact on your rates.
If you have started working from home, or if you had a recent change in your employment status due to COVID-19, then you are no longer using your car for work. The insurance policy should reflect this change in status and reduce your premiums accordingly.
Also, if you are no longer driving on a daily basis to work or to school, for example, your chances of collisions have been greatly reduced. Therefore, a change/increase in the deductible you pay for a claim could reduce your premiums. Other potential ideas to save money include dropping smaller policy options like rental car insurance coverage, transportation replacement, and depreciation insurance. Have another look at your policy and re-assess what you need (and don’t need) during these unprecedented times.
We’ve thrown out a few names of major insurance providers in this country, and what they are doing to offer rebates during this challenging time, but the list is too extensive to include in this space. Fortunately, Canadian Underwriter magazine is keeping an updated list of what individual insurance companies are doing, and not doing, in response to the COVID-19 situation.
If you’re seeing a reduction of vehicle use, and with it a reduction in your insurance premiums, it could be the right time to get affordable financing for a new car purchase. Talk with Canada Drives to learn your options and get pre-approved for financing from the safety of your phone or computer.
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