Drivers pocket savings by allowing their insurer to come along for the ride

By Dan Healing

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY _ When his auto insurance company offered him the option to pay lower rates, Justin Lam leaped at the chance, even though it meant allowing his insurer to electronically tag along with him on every trip.

The 39-year-old from Toronto downloaded TD Insurance’s Myadvantage app on his cellphone and started receiving scores out of 100 based on how fast he was going, whether his turns were too sudden, how hard he was braking and even what time of day he tended to get behind the wheel.

“They said there was no downside. So even if you score terribly on the app, the worse you could do is pay the same rate, with no discount,” Lam said.

The payoff arrived last month with his insurance renewal notice. With an average score in his first year of about 85, he said he is saving around 20 per cent, dropping his $1,800 annual bill to less than $1,500.

If a person doesn’t mind the loss of privacy and their driving will stand up to intensive scrutiny, usage-based insurance may be right for them, experts say.

Driver monitoring programs are generally delivered in two ways, by a smartphone app that “sleeps” until it senses driving has started, or by a telematics device plugged into the car’s diagnostic port. Both use GPS and sensors to collect information and send it wirelessly to the insurer’s website.

Drivers usually receive an enrolment discount of five or 10 per cent and then can earn up to another 15 to 25 per cent discount that is applied when their insurance policy is renewed.

Users can go online to see how their driving stacks up and make corrections. For example, the TD Myadvantage app allows the policy holder to delete a trip if he or she was actually a passenger.

The TD program is offered only in Ontario and Quebec, said Francois Langevin, assistant vice-president of product innovation, but the company is looking to expand it into other provinces.

He estimated that about 40 per cent of new auto insurance clients sign up, adding that’s similar to the industry average for these programs in Canada.

“If you’re a driver who drives low kilometres, doesn’t speed, and doesn’t have jerky driving, that kind of thing, then you have a lower likelihood of making a claim so you get a discount based on that driving behaviour,” said Kaitlynn Furse, spokeswoman for CAA South Central Ontario, which offers a service called CAA Connect that uses a telematics device plugged into the car.

Auto insurance falls under provincial regulation and so the rules vary across Canada.

Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta, for instance, allow some but not all forms of usage-based insurance programs.

The other provinces and territories are considering allowing the programs but haven’t done so yet.

Provincial regulation has fallen behind the pace of technology, preventing insurers and clients from being able to harness the full potential of such programs, said senior policy adviser Rana Shamoon at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Canadians have far fewer choices than in the United States, where 49 jurisdictions have 10 or more insurers offering user-based programs, she said.

Fear that their information may be misused to raise their premiums or provide evidence against them in the event of a claim has hampered enrolment growth in telematics programs, said Andrew Lo, CEO of Kanetix Ltd., a company that helps consumers compare insurance products and rates.

According to a recent Kanetix survey, only 27.7 per cent of respondents in Ontario said they are interested in allowing their insurer to monitor their driving in return for discounted rates.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has identified potential issues with transparency and use of telematics data about driving habits, said Anne-Marie Cenaiko, manager of public education and outreach.

Federal and provincial privacy laws generally require data only be collected with informed consent and be used or disclosed only for the purpose for which it was collected, she said.

Living up to the expectations of his monitoring app is difficult at times, Lam said _ staying below the speed limit when all the traffic around is going faster can seem more hazardous than just keeping up.

He said he also found he was getting a few odd scores.

“It takes the app a while to realize you’ve stopped driving,” he said.

“One time, I dropped my phone on the ground as I was getting out of the car and I got a mark of, like, five for braking too hard.”

Ontario’s Doug Ford to make case for NAFTA deal to U.S. counterparts

By Shawn Jeffords

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Vowing to stand with the federal Liberals, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative premier-designate said he will travel widely in the United States in a bid to help bolster continuing and complex NAFTA talks.

Doug Ford emerged from a nearly hour-long meeting Thursday afternoon with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canada’s ambassador to the United States, pledging his help in trade dispute. The businessman and owner of a label-making business with a branch in the U.S., leaned on his background in sales to tell reporters that he will help federal efforts by travelling to the U.S. to discuss trade with U.S. politicians.

“It’s going to be a full court press,” Ford said. “I’m going to be travelling to every single state because nothing is better than meeting someone eye-to-eye. I can get on the phone, but nothing is better than visiting someone eye-to-eye.”

Ford, whose Conservatives won a majority last week, will be continuing work begun by outgoing Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, who spent months meeting with American governors stressing the importance of reaching a new NAFTA agreement. Ontario will not sit on the sidelines, he said.

“My friends, we must stand together during these critical negotiations because there’s so much at stake,” he said. “Jobs across our economy, workers and their families, entire communities are all counting on us to defend Ontario’s interests and Canada’s interest.”

Freeland said the trade discussions are a non-partisan issue and praised Ford and all of Canada’s premiers for presenting a united front to the U.S.

“We’ve been very effective as a country in playing as Team Canada in this very critical negotiation,” she said. “I’m really grateful for all the work that premier’s across the country have been doing in being part of the Team Canada effort. As premier-designate Ford has said, it really has been a non-partisan effort.”

Freeland, who had been Washington earlier Thursday meeting U.S. Ambassador Richard Lighthizer, said she told the trade czar she would be would be meeting with Ontario’s premier-designate this afternoon.

“I think he was a little bit surprised,” she said during brief introductory remarks before her meeting with Ford. “I think that was a very important signal and message of Canada being absolutely unified when it comes to this very important issue.”

Freeland said she also consulted Ford on retaliatory tariffs that will be imposed on the U.S. in response to “illegal” tariffs Donald Trump slapped on Canadian steel and aluminium imports.

`”On July 1, Canada’s retaliation list will come into effect,” she said. “I want to be clear with Canadians, this is a perfectly reciprocal, measured response.”

Earlier this week, Ford met with auto and steel industry representatives affected by the trade talks and said recent American tariffs on aluminium and steel would hurt jobs on both sides of the border.

Ford’s remarks Thursday echoed his support for the federal government during the tough trade talks. Ford said that while he understands Trump was sticking up for his country in recent remarks criticizing Canada and the prime minister, “name-calling” won’t help resolve disagreements on trade between the two countries.

His comments come after Trump called Trudeau  “weak” and “dishonest” in a Twitter tirade the weekend after the prime minister spoke against American tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Why do my car insurance rates spike based on where I live?

Excerpted article was writen by 

Are my car insurance rates higher based on where I live? Is it based on the number of accidents in my postal code? It doesn’t make sense that we have to pay if a terrible driver from somewhere else gets in a crash here. – Jerry, Brampton, Ont.

If you dent somebody’s hood far from your ‘hood, your neighbours’ rates take the hit.

“It is based on your address, where the car is garaged – not where the claim occurred,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

So if your neighbour in Brampton got in a crash at King and Yonge Streets in Toronto, it counts as a claim for your neighbourhood – not in Toronto.

The number and cost of overall claims – including thefts and crashes – by people living in your area is one of the things insurance companies are allowed to look atwhen they set your rates.

“Territory is considered for auto insurance in Ontario as well as most every other province, including [British Columbia] and Manitoba,” Karageorgos said. “It’s used as a way to group people because premiums are determined by claims.”

The Ontario Liberals and New Democrats promised to stop this insurance industry practice in the provincial election campaign.

“The [Progressive Conservatives] have been pretty quiet in the whole insurance issue,” said Anne Marie Thomas, senior manager of partner relationships for rate-comparison site Insurancehotline.com. “The NDP also said they will lower insurance rates by 15 per cent.”

In a platform scrapped after Doug Ford became party leader, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had promised an end to “geographic discrimination” while not allowing insurance companies to raise rates in other parts of the province.

So why is it an issue? Because your rates could, potentially, be close to $1,000 a year higher than someone who lives a kilometre or two away. For instance, according to numbers released by Kanetix last fall, Brampton is the most expensive city for insurance in Ontario. There’s an average $2,268 annual premium for a 35-year-old driver of a 2014 Honda with a clean driving record.

But next door in Georgetown, that rate is $1,151.

And, while the average rate for Toronto overall was $1,743, there were 22 Toronto neighbourhoods where it was over $2,000 a year.

The average rate province-wide for that Honda driver? It’s $1,316 a year, Kanetix said.

WHY INSURANCE COMPANIES GO POSTAL

Ontario allows insurance companies to have up to 54 territories – Toronto can have up to ten – and each insurance company decides where those are, Karageorgos said.

The province approves rates and annual increases based on each company’s claims costs.

“Each company can look at the province and slice it up differently,” Karageorgos said. “That’s why it’s important to shop around.”

But eliminating what the NDP has called “postal-code discrimination” might have a cost to people living in cheaper areas.

“If you think about it, insurance companies aren’t going to do things at a loss – so if rates go down somewhere, they’re going to up somewhere else,” Thomas said. “The majority of the money [insurance companies] make is from investments and not underwriting – for every dollar they take in, some companies are paying out as much as $1.30 in claims.”

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) said insurance companies are making record profits in Ontario – about $1.5-billion in 2016 alone.

The association issued a report last month stating that Ontario consumers have been overpaying by about $143 per policy every year.

“Insurers are not required to be transparent and clear in their auto profit reporting,” OTLA president Ronald Bohm said in an e-mail. “[They] have been crying poor and getting [the] government to allow them to cut benefits to those seriously injured in accidents.”

The IBC disagrees with the report, and spokesman Steve Kee said it had “serious errors.”

Ontario’s average rates, now about $1,500 per year, make it the second-most expensive province for insurance in Canada, IBC said. The most expensive? That’s B.C., where the average is nearly $1,700 a year, including basic and optional coverage, IBC said.

Both the OTLA and IBC say lowering Ontario insurance rates requires overhauling the whole system.

“The problem has been created over the years because each government comes in and cherry picks what they’re going to fix,” IBC’s Karageorgos said.

Getting rid of location-based auto insurance rates won’t reduce premiums: Insurers

Bryan Passifiume | Toronto Sun

After Thursday, your address may no longer impact your car insurance bill.

All three major parties have expressed varying degrees of interest in eliminating location-based insurance rates that use your postal code to determine premiums.

Data from insurance aggregator Kanetix says north Brampton boasts Ontario’s highest rates, with an average premiums topping $2,398 annually.

That’s a bit less than Toronto’s most expensive rates, $2,384 a year in north Scarborough.

Kanetix.ca insurance expert Anne Marie Thomas attributed the high rates to previous claim histories in the area.

“It’s how often do they happen, and how big they are when they do happen,” she said.

In some cases, motorists could pay hundreds more than those living across the street.

Homeowners living at Lawrence Ave. and Scarlett Rd. pays $600 less annually than those a block east at Weston Rd.

In Brampton, living north or south of Mayfield Rd. translates to a $1,234 difference in your policy.

Twenty kilometres northwest of Brampton in Erin, that gap increases to $1,380.

The NDP and Liberals have incorporated a pledge to eliminate location-based ratings, while the Progressive Conseratives talked about it last year. A PC spokesman could not be reached for comment.

“It’s not right that someone living in Brampton should have to pay much, much more than someone living in neighbouring Caledon for the exact same insurance,” the Ontario NDP said in a statement to theToronto Sun.

“The NDP plan reduces auto insurance rates by 15%, and ends neighbourhood discrimination.”

Pete Karageorgos, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), said companies don’t arbitrarily set rates — they’re regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO.)

Thomas said eliminating location-based rates would mean relief for some, but pain for others.

“It means that Brampton rates would go down, but Ajax would go up,” she said.

Reducing fraud is a better way to reduce rates, she said — a $1.6 billion-per-year problem according to the IBC, adding $246 annually per auto insurance policy.

Lawyer Jerome Kennedy wonders ‘what it is that we’re doing here’ if board not making recommendations to gov’t

Read more

CAA Brings Pay-Per-Km Insurance to Canada

Source: AutoTrader

Pay-as-you-drive insurance is coming to Canada. CAA Insurance is launching a new way for drivers who don’t cover much mileage to benefit on their premiums.

The new program is called CAA MyPace, and it is launching in Ontario in July. It lets drivers pay for their car insurance in 1,000 km blocks. Pay a base yearly rate, and then each time you use up your 1,000 km block, the system alerts you and lets you pay for another.

CAA Insurance pitches the new plan at drivers who cover less than 9,000 km per year, like seniors and drivers who mostly use public transit. “Over the last number of years, auto insurance has been front of mind for a lot of Ontarians,” said Elliott Silverstein, manager, government relations, CAA South Central Ontario. “Today’s announcement provides an additional layer of choice for those who are low-mileage drivers and marks an important step in the modernization of insurance in Ontario.”

To monitor your driving, the program uses a device that plugs into your vehicle and monitors the distance covered. But unlike some other insurance options that track your actual driving and give you a discount based on your driving habits, this one is only looking at your kilometers.

It’s not the first time for usage-based car insurance in Canada. Insurer Aviva tried a pilot of a similar program, but it was discontinued in 2010 before a mass rollout to consumers. High costs related to supporting the program were given as a major reason for the cancellation, which monitored acceleration, braking, time of vehicle use and other driving patterns.

This type of insurance was initially popularized in the UK. It has also made an appearance in the US through National General Insurance and GM’s OnStar program. That program uses GM’s OnStar in-car telematics service to track driving distance, instead of a separate device. The program advertises that drivers who cover less than about 24,000 km per year can save on their insurance, and provides a further discount to OnStar subscribers.

We reached out to GM Canada to see if it was planning to extend the service to Canadian OnStar subscribers. A spokesperson from GM told us that the service is currently being explored for the Canadian market.

Evan is based in Halifax, and has been a car nut for as long as anyone can remember. He autocrosses, does lapping days and TSD rallies, breaks cars and then fixes them again.

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