With the highest auto insurance rates in Canada, Ontario is not a nice place for consumers to buy coverage. They often pay 40% above the national average and in Ontarian politics the oft dismissed topic of auto insurance is a big deal. Customers know they overpay and governments can get plenty of support if they have a proactive approach to insurance.
The Liberal government took a proactive approach in 2013 when it said it would reduce rates by 15 per cent before August 2015. The target was missed by over 8 per cent, but the government has pressed and now reduced premiums by 10 per cent.
Despite drawing criticism for missing its original goal, the Liberals say they are committed to reach the 15 per cent rate reduction. The new Ontario auto insurance reforms enacted by the province on June 1 are another piece in that puzzle to lower costs. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) says the reforms will reduce rates and new policies will be -3.07 per cent to begin with.
However, to achieve the lower rates the reforms are asking consumers to make some compromises, which means paying less to get less. The biggest changes have been made to Statutory Accident Benefit and minor collision policies.
Benefits for Non-catastrophic injuries are now reduced from a combined $86,000 ($50,000 for medical and rehabilitation and $36,000 for attendant care) to a combined $65,000, although it is possible to increase the coverage (i.e. pay for) to $130,000.
In terms of catastrophic injuries the benefits have been reduced from a combined $2,000,000 ($1,000,000 for medical and rehabilitation and $1,000,000 for attendant care) to a combined $1,000,000 with the option to increase it to $2,000,000 in total.
Changes have also been made to the minor collision system, and policyholders do not necessarily have to pay if they are involved in a minor hit. This means the driver will have to pay for the damages out of their own pocket, so it is a question of paying increased premiums or taking the initial financial burden from the collision.
Minor collision reforms are based on the following criteria:
No payment has been made by an insurer
There are no injuries
Damages are less than $2,000
One minor collision every three years.
When renewing your policy next, it is important to know that your rate may be higher and not lower. This is why it is hugely important to shop around to find the best deal possible to make the most of the recent changes to Ontario auto insurance.