Your auto insurance will be cheaper if you sign up in this month

Your auto insurance rate is cheaper if you sign up when the weather is warm. That’s the key takeaway from a two-year price analysis by LowestRates.ca.

The financial product comparison website found that rates quoted in Ontario were at their lowest between July and October, dipping by as much as six per cent in August 2017 from the annual average. The colder months, between January and April, saw the average rate spike by over six per cent in February. The same pattern was observed in 2016.

LowestRates.ca managing editor John Shmuel said he believes similar seasonal price swings play out in other provinces where auto insurance is not publicly managed.

“We were really surprised by the data,” he told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday. “Summer, in general, is a great time to get auto insurance.”

Insurers base their pricing on a combination of you and your vehicle. Age, sex, marital status, postal code and driving history all factor in. More expensive cars that are pricier to fix and models that see a higher volume of claims are costlier for drivers to insure.

The season in which you get your quote factors in because more people buy cars in the summer. Insurance companies in Ontario’s competitive market are eager to undercut one another to capture the annual flurry of new business, Shmuel explains.

“Ontario has a lot of insurance companies. We believe that these insurance companies are artificially lowering their prices,” he said.

Canada’s 2017 new light vehicle sales did in fact peak during the summer, according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. But the largest monthly volume, with 200,400 vehicles sold, was April, a month when auto insurance rates were found to be 3.7 per cent above average.

Vehicle sales statistics fell more in line with the price trend for auto insurance during the winter. January was the low point for sales (108,600). That month was found to have the second highest auto insurance rates, six per cent above average, virtually the same as February’s 6.1 per cent increase.

“No one wants to test drive a car in the snow. It’s stressful. It isn’t fun. You don’t want to be driving your new car when there is all this salt on the ground,” Shmuel said. “It (sales) correlates with the seasons.”

Drivers looking for lower rates may not have the option to wait for summertime insurance rates. Like most financial products, auto insurance rates can be negotiated. There are several ways to lower your premium. Customers can ask for their deductible to be increased, bundle auto insurance with other insurance products, or remove some parts of comprehensive coverage, for example.

Arming yourself with relevant data can help you haggle if you are forced to buy when prices are above average.

“You can definitely speak to a representative at your insurance company if you feel like you are not getting a good quote,” Shmuel said.

What Causes Crashes and How Do We Know?

Intersection CrashIf you have been following the news this week you will know that the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission has proposed time over distance speed cameras in an attempt to reduce serious collisions on the Malahat Highway. One result of this has been a discussion on Twitter about whether this is a justifiable solution or not.

On one hand we have a group that holds the belief that the major contributing factor to those crashes is speed. They want to try the speed cameras to see if it will reduce the number of collisions. On the other hand you have a group that says before you try this, show us that speed really is a significant contributing factor before we discuss trying a solution.

The provincial government is willing to entertain the idea and has done a road safety analysis on that section of the Trans Canada Highway. The last page of that report lists the 12 most common first contributing factor reported by the police and shows that the top three are driving without due care and attention, speed and weather.

No numbers are given, just that they form about 35% of total injury and fatality crashes.

I’ve completed many MV6020 collision reports in my career. I know that the form allowed me to list up to three contributing factors for a collision in descending order of importance. The choice of these factors by police are based on investigation, experience and opinion. They can also be subjective.

From my experience investigating collisions, both driving without due care and weather most often have a speed component, whether it be speed over the limit of speed relative to conditions.

Many other factors may have a speed component as well. What is recorded primarily as following too closely could be part of an attempt by the offending driver to bulldoze the vehicle in front out of the way so that they can continue their trip at a speed in excess of the limit.

The government removed the requirement to report a collision to police from the Motor Vehicle Act in July 2008. I suspect that this has made determining the cause of minor collisions even less accurate than it was prior to that date. To some extent, knowing about minor collisions is important in predicting the potential for major collisions.

Major collisions are most often investigated by experienced traffic officers along with collision analysts and reconstructionists. These are well documented and reported. Serious injury and fatal collision data with speeding involvement numbers should be reliable.

If you want to know where the collisions are occurring, you can visit ICBC’s crash maps and select Malahat. You will find that there were 27 casualty and 52 property damage only crashes from 2011 to 2015. A small number perhaps, unless you are one of those numbers or find yourself waiting in traffic for them to be cleared.

For what it’s worth, I think that you can reasonably assume that speed is a contributor to crashes on the Malahat from this and that along with the current highway improvements point to point speed cameras could make a positive difference. We should try.

Gov’t Plans to Strip Rights for Insurance Company Profits; ICBC Targeting Psychological Injury

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

The BC Government held a press conference where widespread changes targeting the rights of British Columbians to save ICBC money were announced.

In short the Government is creating an artificial cap on what they call ‘minor’ injuries.  As previously discussed even ICBC admits that the termminor injury catches injuries that are ‘complex and costly’.  The pain and suffering cap will be set at $5,500 and is set to kick in in April 2019.

The Government did not provide a full definition of what they call ‘minor’ but ICBC is already noting that in addition to soft tissue injuries that can disable you for up to a year the cap will also target psychological injuries with the insurer publishing a press release saying mental health issues such as ‘anxiety‘ will be caught by the cap.

The Government stated that “a medical professional” will decide if your injury is “minor“.  It is unclear exactly who this medical professional will be.  If you wish to dispute this designation the government is limiting your rights here as well.  The press release notes that certain ICBC claims will be forced to be adjudicated, not by the courts, but by the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal.  Disputes over “the classification of an injury” will be funneled this way.

As of now this Tribunal does not allow people to be represented by lawyers with s. 20 of the law creating the tribunal stating that the default position for hearings is that “the parties are to represent themselves“.

Lastly, if you wish to not have your rights stripped by caps the Government is asking that the victim of bad drivers, not the bad drivers themselves, pay more stating that “Drivers will have an option to purchase additional coverage for a higher limit in pain and suffering compensation. The limit will be set at $75,000 and will cost approximately $1,300 a year, on top of the cost of their basic and other optional insurance. Charging for this optional coverage means the customers who stand to benefit from increased coverage will pay for it, rather than every B.C. driver.

You read that right – if you don’t want your rights stripped you need to pay $1,300 more per year, not the distracted and impaired drivers on our roads!

As Yogi Berra said, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over!  If the above strikes you as unfair please  contact your MLA and tell the government plainly and clearly ‘no to caps’.

 

Figures show lowest fatal accident numbers in Saskatchewan in decades

REGINA _ Preliminary figures show that in 2017 Saskatchewan recorded its lowest traffic fatality numbers since the 1950s.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance says in a release that there were 102 deaths last year compared with 125 in 2016.

SGI says the last time Saskatchewan recorded fewer traffic deaths was in 1954, when 74 people were killed at a time when there were less than one-third the number of registered vehicles in the province as there are today.

An all-time high was reached in 1974 when 306 people died, but the Crown insurer says fatalities have been gradually decreasing after peaking in the 1960s and 1970s.

The yearly average in the decade from 2007 to 2016 was 145, but when the numbers spiked to 183 in 2012, a special committee was formed that recommended a number of initiatives and new legislation to improve traffic safety.

SGI says impaired and distracted driving, speed and lack of a seatbelt or occupant restraint remain the top contributing factors in vehicle deaths.

Get the facts on #InsuranceInnovatiON

Read more

Road Safety: Make the Right Choices

We just renewed the insurance on our car. It cost us $764 for basic insurance coverage on our 2013 Honda CR-V. I can hardly wait for next year to see what we will be paying to make up for this year’s $935 million ICBC loss.

I usually stay away from politics but the temptation for me is just too much this time. Our Attorney General has likened actions by the previous Liberal government to a financial dumpster fire. We can hear him screaming loudly now, but what about way back when this was happening? Isn’t the job of the opposition to oppose in real time, not after the fact?

Sober second thought is supposed to prevent the government from making mistakes not shout about what should have been done after it has happened.

Meanwhile, the numbers continue to rise. Today’s estimate extrapolated from the five year average includes 24 fatalities, 5.310 injured, 612 hospitalized and 27,014 reported collisions. Part of the problem, perhaps even the majority of it, appears to be that we tend to collide with things when we drive.

One suggested solution put forward is to cap insurance payouts by moving to a no fault scheme. As always, there are views for and against this. Your view may simply depend on whether you are the person paying the premiums or the person receiving the benefits.

Having spent a career writing traffic tickets, I feel bound to try to follow the rules faithfully when I drive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I make mistakes. We all do, even when we try our best. That’s just being human.

However, there’s a big difference between making mistakes and deliberately doing whatever you please. Keep to the speed limit and you will eventually see something like this:

BC Licence Plates 713TVM and DV949G

These two selfish drivers just couldn’t wait so the rules were something to disregard for their convenience. Depending on your point of view, they are either someone who deserves a violation ticket and the larger share of paying for insurance costs or someone who is practicing civil disobedience because the speed limit has not been set high enough.

We all balance our behaviours based on what we think it’s going to cost us in terms of risk. This situation is just one of many examples that occur on our highways with increasing frequency. The police weren’t around, complaints fall on deaf ears and nothing bad happened anyway. Why worry?

Perhaps I take this too much to heart. I don’t mind paying for vehicle insurance to cover the results of human error. I do mind paying for the deliberate disregard for others.

Does our current insurance scheme make it just too easy for drivers like these to do what they want when they want knowing that if they mess up we’ll all share the burden with them?

To some extent, we’ve made life difficult for drivers who drive while impaired, don’t hold a valid driver’s licence, participate in races or try to run from law enforcement. If a crash is the result of their choices, they’re insurance doesn’t cover them and ICBC takes action to recover what is paid out to others that suffer damages.

Should we extend this to other deliberate unlawful actions? Will the threat of significant financial penalty moderate making the wrong choice for fun or convenience?

Just how do you motivate drivers to try and make the right choices in all circumstances in an effort to reduce insurance costs?

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