Auto Insurance

Ontario drivers now have a say in how to lower auto insurance rates

By: Lisa Coxon on January 10, 2019

Have something you want to get off your chest about the high cost of car insurance in Ontario? Well, drivers can now provide the Ontario government with feedback on how to lower auto insurance rates in the province.

The Progressive Conservative government launched the Putting Drivers First consultation on Jan.  9 — an anonymous online survey that’s soliciting feedback from drivers with regards to how satisfied they are with their current insurance policy, what the auto insurance shopping experience is like and what suggestions they might have for improving the system. The survey closes Feb. 15.

Putting Drivers First is effectively open to anyone, including those who work in the auto insurance industry. The provincial government launched it with the hope that it will result in lower rates for the province’s drivers, who currently pay some of the most expensive premiums in the country.

Take drivers living in Brampton, for instance, where it has historically been more expensive to insure a vehicle in than the rest of the country — an issue that prompted two opposing political parties to unify last year. New Democrat MPP Gurratan Singh, who represents Brampton East, and Progressive Conservative MPP Parm Gill, who represents Milton, each introduced separate private member’s bills that would seek to lower insurance rates in the Flower City.

Brampton’s high insurance rates are largely due to a higher number of claims and more instances of insurance fraud. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), for every 100 vehicles in Brampton, there are 11.5 claims, compared to an average of 9.3 for the rest of Ontario.

For a long time, Ontario was the most expensive province in the country for auto insurance. The annual average premium is $1,445, according to IBC. But British Columbia has since taken the number-one spot, with the annual average premium being $1,680.

The government’s online survey is being lauded as a positive gesture to include Ontarians in the discussion around auto insurance.

“We have been calling for changes to how auto insurance is regulated for years,” said Kim Donaldson, IBC’s vice-president of Ontario, in a media release. “The province’s auto insurance system is outdated and Ontario drivers pay too much for their insurance. We believe there is a better approach… and we look forward to working with the government to fix auto insurance in this province.”

Not everyone is as enthusiastic.

Singh accused Doug Ford of using the survey to consult his “insider friends” in the insurance sector. And some experts are concerned that since one of the changes being floated is to eliminate the use of postal code discrimination, this could result in lower-risk areas like Ottawa footing the bill for decreased rates in higher-risk areas.

"We can't just focus on a short-term tweak, repair or alteration,” Peter Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations for the IBC, told CTV News Toronto. “It's got to be a complete overhaul.”