Ontario Car Insurance: Top Providers & How It All Works
As it is across Canada, car insurance is an integral part of the car ownership experience in Ontario—so much so that you can’t register a car in your name, let alone drive it, until you can show proof that you’ve bought insurance for it.
On top of that, Ontarians have paid some of the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada in recent years, as discovered in our other article What’s the Average Car Insurance Cost for Canadians?, which prompted a 2019 provincial government promise to reform Ontario’s insurance regime to make it more affordable.
Finding the best deal on auto insurance that protects you and your vehicle isn’t hard once you know where to start. So whether you’re buying insurance for your first vehicle or shopping around for a new policy, let us help with this guide to car insurance in Ontario.
First, here are 10 popular Ontario car insurance quote providers
Before we discuss how car insurance works and answer other top questions, here is a list of car insurance companies in Ontario that offer affordable and reliable car insurance policies.
Please note, when comparing car insurance policies, it's important to consider factors like deductibles, coverage limits, and exclusions to ensure you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Be sure to get multiple quotes and compare them carefully before making a decision.
- TD Car Insurance: TD Insurance is a well-known provider of car insurance in Ontario, offering a range of coverage options at competitive rates. They also offer a range of discounts to help reduce the cost of your policy.
- Intact Car Insurance: Intact Insurance is a leading provider of car insurance in Canada, with a reputation for excellent customer service and comprehensive coverage options.
- Allstate Car Insurance: Allstate is a popular car insurance provider in Ontario, offering a variety of policies to suit different budgets and needs. They also offer a range of discounts to help lower your premium.
- Desjardins Car Insurance: Desjardins is a highly respected provider of car insurance in Ontario, offering customizable policies that allow you to choose the coverage that best meets your needs.
- Aviva Car Insurance: Aviva Insurance is a trusted provider of car insurance in Ontario, with a reputation for transparent policies and excellent customer service.
- Economical Car Insurance: Economical Insurance is a leading provider of car insurance in Canada, offering a range of coverage options at affordable rates. They also offer a range of discounts to help lower your premium.
- RBC Car Insurance: RBC Insurance is a popular choice for car insurance in Ontario, offering a variety of policies to suit different budgets and needs. They also offer a range of discounts to help reduce the cost of your policy.
- Sonnet Car Insurance: Sonnet Insurance is a newer provider of car insurance in Ontario, offering a simple and easy-to-use online platform that makes it easy to get a quote and purchase a policy.
- Belairdirect Car Insurance: Belairdirect is a popular choice for car insurance in Ontario, offering a range of customizable policies that allow you to choose the coverage that best meets your needs.
- Co-operators Car Insurance: Co-operators Insurance is a well-respected provider of car insurance in Canada, offering comprehensive coverage options and excellent customer service.
How does car insurance in Ontario work?
The first step in buying car insurance is to get quotes to find out what it will cost to insure your vehicle. You can talk to individual insurance companies or work with a broker who can approach insurers on your behalf to find the coverage that best meets your needs.
Either way, in order to buy car insurance, you must have a valid driver’s license. Under Ontario’s graduated licencing program, you can purchase insurance with a G1 or G2 license, but your relative lack of driving experience might mean higher premiums than if you have a G license.
The insurance company or brokerage will need to know the year, make, and model of your vehicle, and how you plan to use it: Will you be driving to and from work every day, or using your car or truck for business purposes? They’ll also want to know roughly how many kilometres you drive in a year.
Next, they’ll ask for some personal information: where you live, your age and gender – as well as details about your driving history, including whether you took driver training courses and if you’ve received any tickets or made any claims in the last few years.
If you misrepresent your driving history – even if it’s because you forgot about a speeding ticket or collision claim from several years ago – an insurer has the right to deny you coverage. You also have to tell the insurance provider whether you’ll be the only driver of the vehicle, or if any secondary drivers will be listed on your policy.
Finally, if you already have insurance and you’re getting quotes to see if you can find cheaper coverage, you’ll be asked to provide details of your current policy.
If you’re a young driver buying your first car and you still live with your parents, get a quote from one of their insurers to see if any discounts are available for adding your vehicle to their policy.
How much is car insurance in Ontario?
According to insurance brokerage ThinkInsure.ca, the average cost of insuring a car in Ontario in 2022 is $1,634 per year, or $137 per month.
However, your insurance costs will vary based on a number of factors, including your driving record, the vehicle you drive, and where you live. In May 2022, insurance brokerage Insurdinary compiled a list of the most expensive Ontario cities in which to insure a vehicle.
Most expensive Ontario cities to insure a vehicle
Topping the list is Vaughan, with an average annual car insurance cost of $2,179. It’s followed by Ajax ($2,104), and Richmond Hill ($2,025). Rounding out the top 10 are Brampton ($1,976), Mississauga ($1,971), Pickering ($1,959), Toronto ($1,953), Oshawa ($1,833), and Whitby ($1,792).
King City is tied for 10th place ($1,766) with Orangeville, Schomberg, and Nobelton, a trio of towns just outside the GTA. Based on those annual costs, the average monthly insurance premium ranges from $147 to $182.
Least expensive Ontario cities to insure a vehicle
Among the most affordable locations for car insurance are Kendal (located between Peterborough and the GTA), where the average annual insurance cost is $1,271. The other most affordable insurance locations are all in Eastern Ontario, where Amherstview, Brockville, Iroquois, Martintown, Elizabethtown, Cornwall, Kingston, and Gananoque all come in at $1,132 for annual insurance costs. The average monthly premium in those cities and towns ranges from $94 to $106.
So while location is not the only factor that affects car insurance costs, it’s safe to say that drivers who live in and around the GTA pay some of the highest premiums in Ontario, while those in Eastern Ontario can expect to pay less than the provincial average.
Generally, you can expect higher insurance premiums if you live in a place with a high rate of vehicle break-ins and theft, or in an area known for frequent collisions. Insurdinary says Brampton’s higher-than-average premiums are partly due to a high incidence of insurance fraud in that city.
Meanwhile, part of the reason it’s often cheaper to insure a car in a smaller, less densely populated place is that there tend to be fewer vehicles and, therefore, a lower risk of getting into a collision.
What are the most expensive cars to insure in Ontario?
Every year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC.ca) tracks insurance claims nationwide through its How Cars Measure Up (HCMU) database to help cost-conscious car shoppers choose a vehicle based on its predicted insurance costs. The most recent HCMU data, published in 2021, looks at the frequency and cost of collision, comprehensive (which includes theft), and direct compensation property damage (DCPD) claims for individual vehicles and model years.
Using the HCMU data, we’ve come up with a list of vehicles whose insurance premiums are likely to be higher than average, based on the IBC’s analysis of the cost and frequency of claims in those three categories. They are the BMW X6 (2011-2017), Dodge Challenger/Charger (2014-2017), Land Rover Range Rover/Range Rover Sport (2014-2018), Lexus RX (2016-2020), Porsche Cayenne (2004-2018), Tesla Model S (2014-2017), and Tesla Model X (2016-2018).
Note that this list is not specific to Ontario, is based on the vehicles themselves, and doesn’t take into account other factors that affect insurance costs, like your driving record and where you live.
Ontario’s most-stolen vehicles: expect higher insurance premiums with these models
The IBC also compiles an annual list of Ontario’s 10 most-stolen vehicles. The latest data, from 2020, shows four models dominating the top 10: the Lexus RX shows up four times for model years 2016 through 2019; the Honda CR-V occupies three spots (2017-2019); the Toyota Highlander appears twice (2017-2018); and the 2018 Honda Accord rounds out the ranking.
Again, auto theft is just one of many factors that affect car insurance premiums, but if you’re considering any of those most-stolen models, you may end up paying more to insure it than you would for another vehicle.
Most- and least-expensive auto brands to insure in Ontario
In early 2022, LowestRates.ca listed the most- and least-expensive auto brands to insure in Ontario, based on premiums paid between 2019 and 2021. According to their data, Nissan owners paid premiums that were 11 per cent higher than the average, followed by Hyundai, at 10 per cent above average, and Toyota, Honda and Mazda, whose drivers paid premiums that were 9, 8, and 6 per cent higher than average, respectively.
At the other end of the scale, GMC owners paid 30 per cent less than the provincial average. Chevrolet drivers were close behind, with insurance rates 26 per cent lower than average, and drivers of Ford, Dodge/Ram, and Acura models paid 20, 17, and 13 per cent less than the Ontario average for their auto insurance.
Who can drive your car under your Ontario insurance coverage?
Technically, anyone with a valid driver’s license can drive your car as long as they have your permission, but there are some conditions to keep in mind.
If you lend your car to someone a couple times a year, they’re considered an occasional driver as far as your insurer is concerned and don’t have to be named on your policy. But if that person drives your car more frequently – say, once a week – then they should be listed as a secondary driver on your insurance policy. This way, the insurer can review that person’s driving record and adjust your premiums according to the amount of risk the insurer thinks they’ll be taking on by covering the other driver.
There are no exceptions to this rule for family members – not even parents or offspring – who borrow your vehicle. If you lend your car to someone on a regular basis, they should be listed as a secondary driver on your policy.
Always think about who you are lending your car to. Are they a responsible person and a good driver? Do they have a full G-class driver’s licence, or are they a relatively new driver with a G1 or G2 licence that restricts where and when they can drive?
If you give someone permission to drive your car, they are covered by your insurance policy. If they are involved in a crash or are cited for violating the conditions of their licence, it could affect your insurance coverage, especially if they are found to be the at-fault party in a collision in which someone else is hurt or killed.
Can you register a car without insurance in Ontario?
No, you cannot. Car insurance is compulsory in Ontario, so you have to show proof of insurance in order to register a vehicle in your name after purchasing it, or if you need to renew your registration.
According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, “vehicle owners … and drivers who do not carry valid auto insurance” can be fined anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. And if you are caught driving without insurance, the police can impound your vehicle and suspend your driver’s licence.
A conviction for driving without insurance means your insurer could label you a high-risk driver, which they can use to justify charging you higher premiums or refusing to sell you insurance altogether.
And if you are hurt in a crash while driving – or simply riding in – an uninsured vehicle, you may be ineligible for income-replacement benefits and may not be allowed to sue the driver who caused the crash for compensation as a result of your injuries. Even more seriously, if you are found to be at fault in a crash where someone else is hurt or killed, you may be on the hook for their expenses and financial losses.