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Auto insurance in Ontario: What you need to know.

Looking for more auto insurance info? Check out our Help Centre.

Who sets car insurance rates in Ontario?

In the province of Ontario, auto insurance rates are set by individual insurers and then reviewed and approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario.

What factors determine auto insurance rates in Ontario?

Insurers evaluate a variety of factors before they calculate your auto insurance rate. The following variables are used to determine your insurance rate in the province:

  • Your driving experience.
  • Your driving record.
  • Your age and gender.
  • Where you drive.
  • The type of vehicle you drive.
  • How you use your vehicle.
  • How much coverage you need.

When applying for a quote, these are the factors that will most strongly impact the premiums offered to you.

How much is car insurance in Ontario?

The average price of car insurance in Ontario is $1,505, according to a 2020 report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

But the average price isn’t always indicative of what you’ll actually end up getting charged. A lot of drivers who wind up on our site are looking for a car insurance calculator geared for Ontario insurance rates to instantly tell them how much they can expect to pay.

We recommend taking three minutes to complete a proper car insurance quote. Car insurance is a highly personalized product, so a more thorough questionnaire will deliver a more accurate quote.

How do Ontario car insurance rates compare to other provinces?

Unfortunately, Ontario auto insurance premiums are among the highest in Canada. Why? Many experts point to high fraud rates and higher than average traffic on Ontario roads.

Average auto insurance rates by province

ProvinceAverage Rates
Ontario$1,505
British Columbia$1,832
Alberta$1,316
Newfoundland & Labrador$1,168
Manitoba$1,140
Northwest Territories$978*
Nunavut$963*
Yukon$812*
Nova Scotia$891
Saskatchewan$1,235
New Brunswick$867
Prince Edward Island$816
Quebec$717

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada, 2020, "BC - Better Auto Insurance."

*Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada, 2017

Why are auto insurance rates so high in Ontario?

It’s hard to pin rising car insurance premiums on a single cause.

Insurance experts agree that it’s likely a combination of factors: cars today cost more to repair, distracted driving accidents fuelled by smartphone use are on the rise, and insurance fraud remains an issue in the province.

The auto insurance industry blames the Ontario government for limiting its ability to make further premium increases. They say rate increases are necessary in order to make up for all the losses they’re experiencing.

On the other hand, critics say the insurance industry’s coffers are more robust than ever.

There’s a lot of disagreement about what’s going on.

Will car insurance rates in Ontario go down anytime soon?

It’s impossible to predict the future of the auto insurance market. But based on recent history, we believe auto insurance prices in Ontario will not go down. In fact, we believe they’ll keep climbing.

The auto insurance industry is regulated by the Ontario government, which imposes limits on how much insurance companies can raise their prices.

But every quarter, auto insurance companies have the opportunity to lobby the province for permission to raise rates. Approved rate increases are then made publicly.

The table below shows that the province has agreed to increases every quarter since the beginning of 2018:

QuarterRate change
2019 Q4 (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31)+1.56%
2019 Q3 (Jul. 1 - Sep. 30)+2.60%
2019 Q2 (Apr. 1 - Jun. 30)+1.99%
2019 Q1 (Jan. 1 - Mar. 31)+2.70%
2018 Q4 (Oct.1 - Dec. 31)+3.35%
2018 Q3 (Jul. 1 - Sep. 30)+2.06%
2018 Q2 (Apr. 1 - Jun. 30)+1.1%
2018 Q1 (Jan. 1 - Mar. 31)+2.23%

According to LowestRates.ca’s very own Auto Insurance Price Index, which uses data from quotes generated on our site to track the movement of auto insurance prices in Ontario, the average premium for our customers rose in 2019 by 13.85% compared to the same time period a year before.

Prices have increased virtually every quarter since the beginning of 2018.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario has highlighted several factors that may have contributed to the consecutive rate increases:

  • Distracted driving accidents.
  • Rising claims costs caused by modern cars, which have sensors, touch-screens and computers built-in, making them more expensive to repair.
  • Insurance fraud.

Insurance companies say they’re up against high loss ratios. Translation: they’re paying out more money in claims than they're taking in from premiums.

On top of that, industry official argue that Ontario’s system of regulating auto insurance prices has exacerbated loss ratios, which in turn has caused companies to push harder for the right to raise prices every quarter.

Previous government-led attempts to curb price increases have been ineffective.

In 2013, the previous Ontario government promised to put downward pressure on auto insurance rates across the province. It failed to hit its goal of reducing rates by 15% by August 2015.

In 2019, the current provincial government announced new proposals aimed to make insurance more affordable, including introducing new discounts, cracking down on insurance fraud, and allowing companies to make policies more customizable.

There’s still hope for consumers, though. Despite the larger trend of rising prices, there are ways to lower your auto insurance costs: be a good driver, raise your deductible, and apply for discounts.

And the number one thing that can lower your costs right away? Compare car insurance quotes.

Insurance companies are not all alike. And not every insurance company has raised its prices. A new one might favour you more than your current provider.

That’ll become apparent when you compare car insurance quotes and see the spread in prices

How can I get cheap auto insurance in Ontario?

There are many ways to get cheap car insurance in Ontario. Here's what you can do:

  • Compare car insurance quotes online.
  • Pay premiums on time.
  • Choose the right insurance coverage.
  • Complete a certified driver training program.
  • Insure all your vehicles with the same company.
  • Use winter tires (insurers offer discounts).
  • Bundle your home insurance with your auto insurance.
  • Maintain a good driving history (always drive carefully and obey the rules of the road).

Is auto insurance required in Ontario?

Yes. By law, all Ontario drivers must carry insurance for their vehicle. There are varying levels of coverage available: third-party liability, collision, specified perils, comprehensive and all-perils.

What's the minimum requirement for car insurance in Ontario?

Since Ontario has a no-fault insurance system, drivers are required to carry $200,000 in third-party liability insurance for their vehicles. Without the minimum amount of coverage, drivers can't register their automobiles.

A basic insurance policy in Ontario also includes coverage for medical services and damage to your vehicle.

Accident benefits in Ontario

These are the medical benefits that come with a standard auto insurance policy:

  • Up to $3,500 per person for injuries that are deemed minor.
  • Up to $65,000 per person for combined medical and attendant care for serious, but not catastrophic, injuries for up to five years.
  • Up to $1 million for combined medical and attendant care for catastrophic injuries.

Direct compensation property damage coverage (DCPD) in Ontario

Drivers in Ontario are also required to buy direct compensation property damage (DCPD) coverage. DCPD covers your vehicle damages if another driver is found at fault for the accident. Even if someone else damages your car, you collect benefits from your own insurer.

What other types of auto insurance are available in Ontario?

You can add coverage to your base policy if you think you’ll need it. There are four types of optional coverages you can purchase. Here’s what each one covers.

Collision coverage in Ontario: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing your car if it’s damaged in a collision and you are at fault for the accident.

Comprehensive coverage in Ontario: Covers the cost of damage incurred by theft and vandalism, weather events, earthquakes, explosions, and debris. This type of insurance also entitles you to a cash settlement if your car is declared a total loss.

Specified perils coverage in Ontario: This type of insurance covers the cost of damage from: fire; theft or attempted theft; lightning; windstorms; hail; water; earthquakes; explosions; civil unrest, and damage during transport.

All-perils coverage in Ontario: Provides broad coverage, an amalgamation of collision and comprehensive insurance.

Uninsured motorist coverage in Ontario: A basic policy provides some financial compensation to drivers involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. If you want more insurance, you can increase the size of your benefit with an uninsured motorist endorsement.

What kind of car insurance system does Ontario have?

Ontario operates under a no-fault insurance system. Your insurer pays for your damages and the other driver's insurer pays for theirs.

The benefit of a no-fault system is that it allows injured people quicker access to financial compensation.

In an at-fault system, drivers are liable for the injuries and damages they cause. Insurance companies need to establish fault first before financial compensation can be awarded.

Under the no-fault regime, injured parties don’t have to wait to receive the compensation they need.

No-fault does not mean that you won’t face any penalties for being involved in a collision: you can still be convicted under the Criminal Code and the Highway Traffic Act, and you can also be sued by the injured party for damages that exceed the limits of your insurance benefit.

Most provinces operate under a no-fault regime, with some restrictions in place around an injured party’s right to sue for losses. That means an injury must be severe enough before a lawsuit can be launched.

Newfoundland and Labrador, however, is an outsider, with a mostly at-fault system. Drivers there face no restrictions around their right to sue.

Quebec is the only province in Canada with the purest no-fault system. Drivers there don’t have the ability to sue for damages at all.

In addition to vehicle repairs and property damage, what else will my auto insurance policy cover?

If you have an automobile accident in Ontario, regardless of who's at fault, your liability coverage provides these supplementary benefits:

Income replacement: 70% of gross wages to a maximum of $400 per week.

Benefit to disabled non-earners: $185/week for 104 weeks.

Medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care: $3,500 per person for minor injuries; up to $65,000 per person for non-minor but non-catastrophic injuries; up to $1 million for catastrophic injuries.

Funeral expenses: Up to $6,000.

Payment to survivors of a person who's killed: Minimum of $25,000 to the surviving spouse; $10,000 for each dependant; $10,000 for each parent or guardian.

Right to sue for pain and suffering: You have the right to sue if the following damages are sustained: death, permanent and serious disfigurement, or impairment of important physical, mental or psychological functions. The court will automatically deduct $38,819 from the award.

Right to sue for economic loss: If you are injured, you may sue for 70% of net income loss before trial, 100% of gross after trial. If your injuries are severe enough, you may also sue for medical and rehabilitation and related costs.

You can also increase your benefits offered in your third-party liability policy to include:

  • Increase your coverage to $500,000, $1 million, or $2 million.
  • Benefits that are indexed to inflation.
  • Extra caregiver benefits.
  • Compensation for housekeeping and home maintenance.
  • Additional childcare.

What are the penalties for driving without car insurance in Ontario?

Motorists convicted of driving without insurance in Ontario must pay a fine ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for their first offence. Second offence fines range from $10,000 to $50,000, and your driver's licence may be suspended for up to a year.

If you're convicted of driving without the minimum auto insurance coverage required by law, you'll be identified as  a "high-risk driver." You'll face higher auto insurance rates in the future, and your vehicle may be impounded.

What's the minimum legal driving age in Ontario?

You can begin the licensing process in Ontario when you turn 16. To get a learner's licence (G1) in Ontario, you have to pass a written test on your knowledge of the rules of the road and a vision test. When you pass these tests, you get your G1 licence. But once you get behind the wheel, you must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.05, and your own BAC must be 0.

How do I get a probationary licence (G2) in Ontario?

After you hold your G1 licence for 12 months, or 8 months with the completion of a driver's education course, you have to pass an advanced road test to earn your probationary licence (G2). Drivers with a G2 licence cannot drive between 12:00 AM and 5:00 AM or on high-speed expressways (including 400-series highways). And they must maintain a BAC of 0.

How do I get a full licence in Ontario?

Once you've had your G2 licence for 12 months, you can take your final road test, which usually includes driving on a four-lane highway. If you pass, you get your full licence (called a G). Just remember: you have to renew your G license every 5 years, and Ontario drivers have to maintain a BAC of 0 until they turn 22.

I don’t have a full licence. How will it impact my car insurance rates?

Having only a G1 or G2 licence means your car insurance premiums will be higher than an experienced driver with a G licence.

Insurance companies consider new drivers at an elevated risk level to insure.

However, there are still ways to lower your premium. Some insurers provide discounts to students and alumni of certain post-secondary institutions. Some also provide discounts for students who maintain a high GPA.

Enroll in a government-approved driving course. Showing an insurer proof of completion will lower also lower your rate.

What should I know about car insurance in Ontario for seniors?

A segment of older adults pay, on average, the lowest car insurance premiums. These are people between 50 and 65 years old.

They have a long insurance and driving history, and they are more likely to have been with the same car insurance company for a number of years and are also more likely to have multiple insurance policies with one company (bundling home insurance, for instance).

However, insurance prices can start to creep up in the 70 and 80-year mark. Insurance companies consider people in this age range to be at a higher risk for accidents. They also need more time to recover from injuries.

At that point, breaking ties with your old insurance company might help you find savings. Compare auto insurance quotes to find a more favourable car insurance company.

What should I know about car insurance in Ontario for new immigrants?

If you’ve recently immigrated to Ontario, you cannot drive without proper licencing and insurance.

You must trade-in your licence from the country you’ve emigrated from within 60 days for an Ontario driver’s license. The provincial government recognizes licences from several countries as equivalent to an Ontario license, which makes your transition smoother and spares you from going through Ontario’s graduated licencing system.

Here are the countries with which Ontario has a licence exchange agreement:

  • U.S.
  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Isle of Man, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Taiwan

Ask your old insurance company to provide a reference to your new Ontario insurer. This will go a long way to nab you a lower car insurance rate.

If you’re immigrating from a country other than the ones listed above, you will have to go through Ontario’s graduated licencing system.

What should I know about car insurance in Ontario for students?

On average, young drivers pay the highest insurance premiums of any demographic (adults with driving convictions notwithstanding). For drivers who’ve been insured since the age of 16, rates start declining in the mid-twenties and typically persist until their thirtieth birthday.

Here are some suggestions for new drivers in Ontario on trimming their car insurance bill:

  • Avoid getting your own car, if you can. Instead, opt to get listed as the secondary driver of your parents’ car. Insurance for secondary drivers costs less than it does for the primary driver.
  • If you’re in school (high school or post-secondary), insurance companies offer discounts to students who maintain a certain GPA.
  • Take a driver’s education course and make sure you get a certificate of completion. Showing that to an insurance company will lower your rate.

It’s a challenge to find cheap car insurance for young drivers in Ontario, but savings are possible; in fact, young drivers who use LowestRates.ca to apply for car insurance find the most savings out of any other age group. They may pay the most, but their savings rate is higher than average.

What should I know about car insurance for high-risk drivers?

In Ontario, if you're convicted for a driving offence or driving without the minimum auto insurance coverage required by law, you'll be identified as a high-risk driver. Beyond short-term consequences, like having your vehicle impounded, you'll also face higher auto insurance rates in the future. However, you cannot be denied car insurance. There are still auto insurance companies that will provide you coverage. LowestRates.ca has partnered with the leading high-risk car insurance companies in Ontario to provide insurance quotes, like Jevco, Aviva, and more.

Is ride-sharing auto insurance available in Ontario?

Yes. Ontario was the first province to approve an insurance policy for ride-sharing. So if you drive for a ride-sharing service like Uber, make sure you get the right coverage. Ride-sharing insurance is absolutely essential to keep your customers, your vehicle, and yourself protected in case something happens while you’re on the road.

Is usage-based insurance available in Ontario?

Yes. Ontario was one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to approve usage-based car insurance policies, and drivers in the province can take advantage of this new type of insurance plan to dramatically lower their premiums.

Learn more about usage-based car insurance here.

Which cities have the cheapest car insurance in Ontario?

Insurance companies say that auto insurance gets cheaper the farther you are from Toronto and its surrounding suburbs. Our data backs up that assertion. We looked at quotes generated on our site in early 2020 and found that the top five Ontario cities with the cheapest insurance are:

  • Embrun, Ont.
  • Kemptville, Ont.
  • Brockville, Ont.
  • Perth, Ont.
  • Arnprior, Ont.

Why is insurance cheaper in less populated, often rural, areas? Actuarial data shows that thefts and accidents are less common in smaller cities.

Okay, sure, location plays a big part in determining your premium. But so does your personal driving history.

If you have a short driving and insurance history — or a long one that’s mired with driving convictions — your postal code won’t prevent you from getting slapped with a high premium.

On our site, drivers from tiny Ontario towns have gotten quotes that rival what the average driver in Toronto pays, sometimes even twice than that.

It just goes to show that being a good driver pays off in the long run.

Which cities are the most expensive to insure a car in Ontario?

Based on LowestRates.ca data from early 2020, these are the top five Ontario cities with the most expensive car insurance premiums:

  • Brampton, Ont.
  • North York, Ont.
  • Mississauga, Ont.
  • Scarborough, Ont.
  • Toronto, Ont.

Just as auto insurance gets cheaper the further you are from major cities, the inverse is also true for drivers in major cities: the more central you are, the more it costs to insure your car.

Urban drivers are at a higher risk for filing claims, say insurance companies. According to actuarial studies, the probability of theft and accidents requiring compensation is much higher.

Insurance fraud is also more rampant in large population centres. Take Brampton, for instance: the average premium is 30% higher than what the Insurance Bureau of Canada says is the provincial average. Police and insurance companies have credited that in part to high levels of staged collisions in Peel Region, where Brampton is located.

Who provides the cheapest auto insurance in Ontario?

Ontario has the second-highest auto insurance costs in the entire country. The top honour goes to British Columbia. It’s really hard to find cheap insurance in a province where it’s uniformly expensive — and getting more expensive — to own a car.

But there’s one thing that applies to all drivers, no matter where you live in Canada: There isn’t a single provider of auto insurance that provides cheaper premiums to all who apply.

Insurance actuaries painstakingly calculate the risk that each and every applicant presents. Then, they compare that person’s risk rating to the collective risk that all their other customers in their insurance pool present. They also consider the cost of claims as a whole: car repairs cost a lot more than they used to, meaning claims have gotten a lot higher.

Basically, there are a whole bunch of variables that insurance providers weigh before they’ll underwrite a policy for you.

The only way that a company is going to offer you cheap car insurance is if they think you are at very low risk of making a claim. That’s why we advise focusing on being a good driver and doing other housekeeping things such as always paying your premium on time and never letting your car insurance lapse — and of course, comparing insurance on an annual basis.

Would you really even want discount insurance? If the time comes for you to make a claim, you get what you pay for. You want to be well taken care of in your time of need.

Luckily, Ontario’s private auto insurance market means that there is a sizable selection of insurance companies to choose from. We can help you find a policy that’s both affordable and offers the right amount of protection.

What types of car insurance are available in Ontario?

In order to drive a vehicle, Ontarians must carry a basic level of insurance: third-party liability insurance with a benefit of $200,000.

Liability coverage protects you from insurance and legal costs if you injure another person in a collision. Accident benefits coverage, which is contained within third-party liability insurance, pays for your medical costs and provides you with replacement income if you are injured.

Based on your needs, you might want to add some of these coverages to your policy:

  • Collision insurance - This coverage provides compensation to be put towards a new car if yours is damaged in an accident.
  • Comprehensive insurance - This optional coverage pays for losses or damage to your car caused by things other than a collision: a fallen tree, a hail storm, or vandalism, for instance.

Extra car insurance can be worth purchasing if your car is a newer model. If it would be too expensive to pay for extensive repairs or to replace your car by paying out-of-pocket, extra insurance may be worth it.

Just remember that adding coverage will increase your auto insurance bill — but in some cases, that isn’t always a bad thing.

You’re not stuck with extra coverage. It’s possible to revert to a basic policy, which will lower your costs. Ask your insurance company to streamline your policy at renewal.

How is Ontario’s distracted driving law impacting car insurance rates?

In 2019, Ontario began enforcing new rules around distracted driving. Bill 174, or Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, strengthens existing road safety laws by fining drivers who are caught talking on their phones, texting, dialling or emailing using a hand-held device.

The penalties for getting caught are: a $1,000 fine, 3-day licence suspension, 3 demerit points on the first conviction; $2,000 fine, 7-day suspension, 6 demerit points on the second conviction; $3,00 fine, 30-day suspension on the third conviction.

We conducted our own analysis and found that an Ontario driver would see a 15% increase in their car insurance premium after their first conviction. A premium of $191 a month would go up to $226.

After the second conviction, an Ontario driver would see a 27% increase in their insurance premium. Their insurance would go up from $226 to $308.

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