Every person is unique, and their insurance needs are special, too. You may have encountered “high-risk insurance” while shopping for insurance and wondered if it applies to you. We answer your FAQs about what classifies a high-risk driver and what that means for high-risk auto insurance.
WHAT IS A HIGH-RISK DRIVER?
You are considered a high-risk driver if you have a poor driving record and/or insurance payment history. You will not qualify for standard auto insurance rates as a high-risk driver. Therefore, you will have to purchase non-standard auto insurance, otherwise known as “high-risk auto insurance.”
WHAT IS HIGH-RISK AUTO INSURANCE?
Being classified as a high-risk driver usually means that most insurance companies will not insure you because:
- You have too many traffic tickets on your record (not including parking tickets and red light camera infractions)
- Your document lists at-fault accidents
- You have a history of cancellations for non-payment
- You have a DUI charge (driving under the influence) or other criminal convictions
- Any combination of the above, or you have other risk-related characteristics
How is high risk different from standard car insurance?
Essentially, three criteria differentiate your standard car insurance policy from a high-risk insurance policy:
1. High-risk insurance costs more
The difference can be substantial. Insurers calculate both in much the same way. However, insurance premiums vary depending on the company and its eligibility criteria. Typically, 20% or more surcharges apply to any convictions and at-fault accidents on your record.
2. Your payment options are reduced
A large portion of drivers is high-risk for financial reasons. For example, if you have one or more NSF (not-sufficient-funds) within your policy term, your insurer may cancel your policy. This would launch you into the “High-Risk” bracket.
3. Your insurance coverage is limited
As a high-risk driver, you will have several limitations placed on your policy, such as:
- Your liability limits are usually capped at $1 million for your coverage
- You will pay higher deductibles
- Exclusions and specific conditions will be placed on your policy
Did you know that limitations on your high-risk policy will not only affect you, the policyholder? It also affects other listed drivers and anyone living in your household with a valid Ontario driver’s license.
HOW LONG WILL I BE LABELLED “HIGH RISK”?
You will leave the high-risk category once previous tickets or accidents come off your record. But, in the meantime, it is essential to practice safe driving habits, such as:
- Avoid distracted or impaired driving. Keep your smartphone and electronics out of sight. Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These could lead to a significant traffic ticket, license suspension or a serious accident.
- Follow the rules of the road. Stay within the speed limit, keep a safe following distance and obey all traffic signs.
- Review defensive driving habits. It may have been a long time since you received your license. So, reviewing some tips for safe driving under all conditions couldn’t hurt.
- Pay your insurance premiums on time. Payment issues and cancellations can keep you in the high-risk category. If you are worried about upcoming payments, your isure broker may be able to make accommodations with your insurance company.
DOES HIGH-RISK INSURANCE COST MORE?
High-risk insurance in Ontario is expensive because insurers charge more for drivers with poor driving and/or payment history. Your insurance company’s chances of paying out a high-risk claim are much higher than a driver with a cleaner record. High-risk auto insurance is more expensive than the average cost of car insurance. High-risk drivers are more likely to have a claim under their auto policy. Insurance is a pool of money. If more payment comes out to pay claims, more money will have to go back in.
DO ALL INSURANCE COMPANIES OFFER HIGH-RISK AUTO INSURANCE?
Most insurance companies target drivers with experience and low-risk drivers. If your driving record changes, you are no longer one of their target clients. You will likely find yourself without a policy offer at your next renewal date. In this case, you should seek an independent insurance broker representing multiple insurance companies (like isure!) Independent brokers should be able to offer you auto insurance with a high-risk insurer.
Here is a complete list of high-risk insurance companies in Ontario who insure high-risk drivers:
- Jevco Insurance: Jevco is a subsidiary of Intact Insurance.
- Economical (formerly Perth Insurance): Perth was a subsidiary of Economical Insurance.
- Pafco Insurance: Pafco is a subsidiary of Pembridge Insurance.
- Echelon Insurance: Echelon is a subsidiary of CAA Insurance.
- Coachman Insurance: Coachman is a subsidiary of SGI.
- Facility Association: Facility is essentially a risk-sharing pool for high-risk drivers. This is for drivers that are TOO high risk for ALL the high-risk insurance companies. Facility is often referred to as the option of last resort. Facility Association is often the only auto insurance option if you are under the highest risk driver category. Facility is an organization that guarantees insurance coverage for drivers who cannot get it elsewhere.
How long are you considered a high-risk driver in Ontario?
You are no longer a high-risk driver when some of your policy infringements fall off your record. For example, your traffic tickets, suspensions and cancellations for non-payments are typically removed from your record after three years. At-fault accidents, however, will take up to five years before removal.
If you need high-risk auto insurance, contact our isure brokers. They are highly knowledgeable and will shop the market and find you the best coverage. Some high-risk insurers may offer multi-vehicle discounts or home and auto bundles. This will keep you covered and help reduce premiums. In addition, your broker will guide you on improving your driving record and reviewing your policy at each renewal. This will ensure your policy details are updated to move you out of this insurance market as soon as possible.
To learn more about high-risk auto insurance, contact us any time! We are always happy to walk you through the types of insurance that best suit your needs at the best rate possible.