By Anne Marie Thomas
Special to the Financial Independence Hub
If you install winter tires and live in Ontario, you’re in for some savings next time you renew your car insurance policy or shop around for coverage.
Ontario recently announced that auto insurers must offer drivers who change their tires seasonally a Winter Tire discount come January 1, 2016. To qualify for the discount, you typically have to install a set of four winter tires (with the three-peak mountain snowflake logo) and have the tires on your vehicle between November and April.
The Winter Tire discount, however, is not new. Many insurance providers already offer the discount to policyholders who usually end up saving around 5 per cent off their premiums. The companies that did not offer the discount in the past, must now do so to the benefit of their policyholders who swap out their all-season tires for winter wheels.
This isn’t the first discount to be made mandatory in Ontario. A while back (about 15 to 20 years ago) insurers were required to offer a Retiree discount too. Aside from these two mandated discounts, there are many others that can help you lower your premiums.
Although discounts vary by insurance provider (and sometimes province) they’re a great way for drivers to keep their auto insurance rates in check, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of knowing about them.
Probably the most well-known discount is the Multi-line discount. Most people know that if they bundle their home insurance and auto insurance they’ll get a discount off one or both of their policies. But, many people don’t realize that there’s more to this discount than just a home or car. If you’re a tenant or live in a condo you’ll likely qualify for the discount too and the same goes for motorcycle, RV or snowmobile owners as well.
The Multi-line discount can range from five to 15 per cent.
There are a couple of discounts that are common for students. The Good Student discount encourages young drivers to hit the books and if a certain average is maintained will qualify them for some savings usually in the range of about 10 to 20 per cent. The other discount is targeted to the student’s parents. If the student is away at college or university and only drives the car when home visiting, some insurers offer a Student Away At School discount. This discount can save up to 50 per cent.
The Driver Training discount for young drivers often offsets the cost of a driver’s training course in the first year of having car insurance, and typically benefits new drivers (so long as they don’t get any tickets or are involved in any at fault collisions) for three years.
Since 2007, all cars manufactured in Canada come with anti-theft immobilizers—devices to prevent vehicles from being started without keys (e.g. hotwired). If your car is older and you install an after-market anti-theft device, like an electronic immobilizer, you may qualify for a discount. And, no matter what the age of your vehicle, there are other after-market devices like VIN marking or GPS tracking that may get you a discount. Check with your insurance provider first though, to make sure your anti-theft device earns you the discount you’re seeking. The savings will vary, but an Anti-theft discount could save you about 25-30 per cent off the comprehensive coverage premium.
Insurance discounts will vary by insurance company as will the amount you can save. When getting coverage make sure you’re getting all the discounts you can, by asking your provider about the discounts they offer.
Of course, there are other ways to save as well. In addition to making sure you’re getting all the discounts you’re eligible to receive, you should also regularly shop around to make sure you get the best car insurance rate out there. Rates often change, and the insurer who gave you the best deal three years ago, or even last year, may no longer give you the best rate today.
Anne Marie Thomas is an insurance expert with InsuranceHotline.com and has spent more than 20 years in the insurance industry. She has worked in many areas of some of the largest insurance companies in Canada in Underwriting as well as Marketing. She has also been a licensed insurance broker in Ontario and some US States.