Expert advice on getting auto insurance

November 12, 2014

How are auto insurance premiums determined? What is optional coverage? We spell out what to expect from your auto insurance.

Is auto insurance mandatory?
Yes. When you own or lease a vehicle, you’re required to take out liability insurance to cover any losses that might happen while driving — think property damage, an injury, even death. In addition, you also must have coverage for any medical expenses you incur or lost income related to an injury sustained while driving.
How do I pay for insurance?
When taking out insurance, you make regular payments — also called premiums — that get collected and any potential claims come out of that bundle of money. Premiums are determined by how likely it is that you’ll make a claim against the insurance company. Drivers with higher probabilities of taking out a claim will pay more. And premiums are based on factors such as age, the city that you're driving in, how often you’re driving, your driving record and other variables.

With insurance, you’re one of a few people contributing to that bundle of money, so when a claim is made, there’s enough money to cover the claim, big or small. However, the bundle or pool only lasts for a year, so you’ll need to review and renew your auto insurance contract annually.
Where do I buy it?
You can buy insurance from an insurance agent, a broker or directly from an insurance company. Here are the differences:

  • An agent only sells insurance for one particular company
  • A broker has the potential to sell insurance to you from any number of companies and will set out to find a deal for you
  • Buying directly from the company can be done through the website or an in-office visit

If you’re not sure how to find an agent or broker, start with a online search to find offices near you. You could also ask friends, family, neighbours and colleagues for recommendations.Or you can go through trade associations as recommended by your local chamber of commerce.
Any extra coverage available?
Yes. You can also voluntarily purchase additional insurance for your car, including:

  • Collision coverage: This is coverage for damage that happens to your vehicle from a collision or accident
  • Comprehensive coverage: This insures you from other potential hazards including theft, vandalism and more
Expert advice on getting auto insurance
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