As a homeowner, you need to insure your house for replacement costs so that, in the event of serious damage or destruction, you have adequate coverage. If you drive a vehicle, auto insurance is required by law across Canada. It covers the owner/driver, passengers, pedestrians and property involved in a vehicle collision.
Insurance can be costly. But there are ways to save money if you ask the right questions, know your options and are willing to put in some research.
Step 1: What are your specific insurance needs?
Before you contact an insurer, find out the following:
- What coverage is mandatory for your vehicle? What’s optional?
- What is the replacement value of your home and its contents?
- If your business is home-based, what losses would you face to your business if there was a break-in or a fire?
- Do you belong to any industry associations that offer a group rate?
- If you have taken an approved drivers’ course, new drivers get a break on premiums.
Step 2: Consider “bundling”, that is, arranging multiple policies with one insurance company.
Most companies offer multi-policy discounts or loyalty programs when you combine home and auto insurance, or insuring a cottage, boat, or recreational property with the same company as your primary residence.
Business owners can also combine multiple types of business coverage such as Directors’ and Officers’ Liability, Commercial Property and Special Events Liability.
Step 3: Know your options for buying insurance
There are 3 ways to buy insurance:
- Directly from a private insurance company, called a “direct writer” (You can contact the Canadian Association of Direct Relationship Insurers (CADRI) or call 416-773-0101 for a list of CADRI members.)
- Through an agent who sells insurance for just one company (ask a trusted friend or relative for a referral)
- Through a broker who deals with multiple insurance companies (ask a trusted friend or relative for a referral)
In addition to a personal referral, you can also contact your provincial insurance brokers’ association or the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada.
Step 4: Ask the right questions
Are you appropriately licensed in this province? To verify that an agent or broker is licensed to sell insurance, contact the licensing body for your province.
- Are these the lowest policy prices?
- How can I save money by changing my deductible?
- What are the cancellation rules?
- Is the claims service available 24/7/365?
- If I’m in a vehicle collision and it’s my first one, how will it affect my premium? What happens after one or more speeding tickets?
The Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (ibac.ca) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (ibc.ca/qc) offer independent advice and resources to guide you on all things insurance, including how to read a policy, how insurance works, types of coverage and filing a claim.