Insurance experts say the best car insurance is usually purchased through a broker, not through an independent agent.
They say the brokers are often better at getting quotes from drivers who are willing to pay premiums for the coverage.
That means they may offer better insurance rates for the same vehicle.
“They are going to do a better job of getting you the best price for the vehicle,” says Kevin MacKinnon, president of the Canadian Association of Car Insurers.
“The brokers will say, ‘Oh, I am going to provide you with a rate that is higher than the market rate.'”
One company in particular, Hagerty Insurance Services, says it gets quotes from at least 50% of drivers.
Its policy limits coverage to $2,500 in the event of a collision, and $5,000 for injuries.
“When we say a higher rate, we mean it is higher because the risk is higher,” says Scott T. Hager, the company’s chief risk officer.
Hagers policy limits cover an average of $8,500, but it also covers damage to the vehicle, including broken tires, cracked windshields and a cracked radiator.
It also covers some serious injuries.
For a crash that results in a fatality, it also includes $1,000 in coverage.
“If you are injured or killed in an accident and you receive a claim, you will receive compensation for that,” says Hagery’s Hagertys director of insurance, David Rennie.
In an effort to keep costs down, Hagers only covers vehicles that have been repaired, modified or repainted.
Rennies says the company is only able to cover the repair or repaint costs if the customer pays its premium.
“We do not cover all of our repair and repaint services and we do not have any liability insurance,” he says.
He says it costs between $250 and $300 to repair a vehicle.
If a claim is not paid in full within 14 days, the vehicle is deemed salvageable and can be sold.
“That’s where we have to go,” says Rennys.
He said Hagerties policy limits the amount of money it can cover a driver’s medical expenses.
“You will not be able to go and get compensation,” he said.
If the claim is paid in part, then it is deductible, and the driver can deduct it on their income tax return.
“This is the part of the plan where they are allowed to cover some of their costs,” he added.
Some insurance companies also charge a premium to the insured for driving under the influence.
“It’s not the same as insurance,” says Bob Sutter, vice-president of auto insurance at U.S.-based Progressive.
“Drivers who are under the legal limit of driving can be charged a fee if they are driving in excess of the legal limits, but the amount that is charged to the driver will not exceed the actual amount that was charged to that person.”
Sutter says he does not know of any policy that covers an intoxicated driver, and that would be illegal under provincial or federal laws.
If someone is impaired, there is a separate policy.
It says it is “unfair to charge an insured with the costs of an impaired driver.”
The Progressive policy says if the policy is breached, the insured can seek compensation from the driver, which can be “up to the amount they would have been paid for the period covered by the policy.”
In Ontario, the driver’s insurer is the provincial Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation Corporation.
That company is required to provide insurance coverage for the driver at a minimum of $1 million per vehicle.
In Manitoba, it is not required to offer the same level of coverage for a driver under the same policy.
A Manitoba driver’s insurance company has been selling its insurance for several years, and it says its policy covers $1.5 million per person in a collision.
The company’s policy limits a driver to only $1 for injuries and $200 for medical expenses, and its policy does not cover damages to the car.
In Ontario’s insurance rules, if a person has lost or damaged property in a crash, they can be compensated for the loss or damage up to $500.
A policy can also be paid out for a “loss or damage” in the form of a lump sum.
For example, if someone is injured and a policyholder’s insurance covers $500, then that policyholder can receive a $1 lump sum for the amount lost or stolen.
A provincial court judge ruled in 2008 that a man who lost his house to a tree fall was not entitled to compensation for the damage.
In another Ontario case, a man lost his home and his car after a fall in a culvert.
His insurer said the policy did not cover the fall.
In 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal said the man could not claim damages for the fall and the insurance did not compensate for the fallen tree.