Your Questions About Being a High Risk Driver in Ontario Answered
As specialists in high risk auto insurance here in Ontario, we get a lot of questions around being a high risk driver and what the implications are for insurance coverage.
High risk drivers pay more for their insurance so if you find yourself in this category, it’s important to be as well informed as possible about this kind of coverage and what this will mean for your driving future.
So we thought we’d do up a post that covers some of the most common queries and concerns around this topic.
Let’s dive in!
Let’s start off by looking at some of the most common general questions we get about being a high risk driver and high risk auto insurance…
How do I get put in the high risk driver category?
There are several reasons an insurer will deem a driver high risk:
~ You have a poor driving record – traffic violations, at fault accidents and DUIs.
~ You’re young – if you’re under 25 in Ontario you are placed in the young driver category.
~ You’re inexperienced – even if you’re not a teen, if you’re just getting started with driving as an adult you’re considered a risk by insurers.
What driving behaviours are considered risky?
Some of the most common include failing to yield, not obeying traffic control devices, speeding, tailgating and passing improperly.
How Far Back Do Insurance Companies Look?
In general, in Ontario an insurer will look back 3 years for a DUI and 6 years for an at fault accident. Not all insurance companies follow the same timeline (some will go back further) so it’s important to discuss this your provider or broker.
Learn more here: Auto Insurance Q & A: How Far Back Do Insurance Companies Look?
How Long Are You Considered a High Risk Driver?
In Ontario, tickets and infractions remain on your driver’s record for 3 years. The same goes for a DUI. If you were in an accident and it was your fault, this will be on your record for up to 6 years. As with everything insurance related, it all depends on your specific provider, so make sure you understand their particular policies.
What Happens If I Miss a Payment on My Car Insurance?
~ You could be charged a late fee.
~ You may need to pay with a lump sum payment for the year (no more monthly installments).
~ You could pay higher car insurance premiums, especially if you have been placed in the high risk driver category.
~ If your dues have been sent to collections, this could negatively affect your credit score in general.
Will I get cancelled if I miss a car insurance payment?
Insurers take missed payments very seriously. This is one way you can get placed in the high risk driver category. In Ontario, you generally have around 15 days to make your missed payment before cancellation or within 30 days for NSF (depending on the provider). Not your first rodeo? A history of non-payment can result in your coverage being cancelled completely.
Who insures high risk drivers?
Different insurance companies have difference policies and different tolerances towards high risk drivers. It’s important to do plenty of research and comparison shopping when looking for high risk auto insurance coverage to make sure you’re getting the best rates possible, even in your situation. And if you’re struggling to find coverage, read the next question…
I’ve been denied coverage by several companies. Does this mean that I can’t get auto insurance?
No. While many insurers are wary of offering coverage to those they deem high risk, it is the right of any driver to get auto insurance. The industry as a whole cannot refuse coverage. You can get insured via the residual market (we talk about this further below, or you can check out this post).
All about DUIs
Getting a DUI is one common way of being put into the high risk driver category. Let’s take a look at some specifics about being in this situation.
How Much Does Your Insurance Go Up After a DUI in Ontario?
This is one of the most common questions we get about high risk auto insurance. The short answer is that you should expect your premiums to at the very least double, but you could also be looking at rates 3-5x higher. It all depends on how serious the DUI infraction is and what your driving record looked like before.
When will your insurance return to normal after a DUI?
In Ontario, a DUI stays on your driver’s abstract for 3 years, or 6 years if you actually had your licence suspended. Some insurers will follow the 3 year rule for higher rates and some 6 – it all depends on the provider. After this, with the assumption that your driving record was perfect, you should see your auto insurance rates go back to what they were before.
Get more information: Auto Insurance Q & A – How Much Does Your Insurance Go Up After a DUI in Ontario?
Young drivers and new drivers
In this section, let’s take a look at one category of high risk drivers – young drivers and new drivers – high risk automatically because of their inexperience out on the road.
How can I get the best insurance rates as a young driver?
~ Start now by building up a clean driving record. As the years of good driving pile up, your rates will go down.
~ Choose your car carefully, as the vehicle you drive affects your rates.
~ Take a driver training course.
~ Ask your parents if you can get put on their policy.
~ Ask about student discounts.
Learn more here: How to Get the Best Car Insurance Rates as a Young Driver
How can I get cheaper insurance for my teen?
When you’ve got a teen or a young driver in the family, you know you’re going to get hit with higher rates. Here are some of our top tips for getting cheaper insurance for young drivers:
~ Add them to your insurance policy
~ Put them through driving school
~ Help them out with joint car ownership
~ Let your insurer know all the specifics of how much they will be driving
Learn more here: How to Get Cheaper Car Insurance for Your Teenager
Can You Get Cheaper Insurance by Going to a Driving School?
Yes! If you’re a new or young driver, attending a driver’s education course can save you anywhere from 5-15% on your auto insurance rates, depending on the provider. Make sure that you choose a course that is recognized by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario and that you provide your insurer with your certificate of completion.
What is the Difference in Insurance Between G1 and G2 Licences?
A G1 is the first step in getting a driver’s licence in Ontario. Since it is a learner’s licence, it comes with many restrictions. The next step is a G2 and you receive it after 12 months with a G1 (or 8 months if you’ve taken a driver’s education course) and after passing a road test. With a G1 licence, you cannot hold your own auto insurance and with a G2 licence you can.
What age is considered high risk for driving?
In Ontario, any driver under 25 years of age is put into the young drivers category.
Are you a young driver looking for more information about auto insurance coverage in Ontario? Check out this post!
Rates for high risk drivers
When you’re in the high risk driver category, most likely your top question is, how will this affect my insurance rates? Let’s take a look at some common questions…
How much more do I pay as a high risk driver?
This will depend from insurer to insurer as well as how serious your high risk designation is. But generally speaking, you can expect to pay at least 25% more for insurance. If your infractions are serious, such as say a DUI, you will be paying much more (usually double).
How much more does facility insurance cost?
If you’ve been placed in the facility insurance/residual market bucket (see section below for a definition of these terms), your costs for auto insurance will be much higher, anywhere from 2-3 times average rates.
Is there anything I can do to get cheaper rates as a high risk driver?
There are always steps you can take to try to lower what you pay for auto insurance – comparison shop, combine insurance plans (such as getting home and auto insurance from the same company), use Telematics or drive a car with safety features are just a few examples. But most importantly, do everything you can to keep a clean driving record moving forward!
Here are a few specific terms and definitions that are often used in the high risk auto insurance industry…
What is a high risk driver?
A high risk driver is someone who has a poor driving record, who is inexperienced behind the wheel (such as a young driver) or who has a poor credit history (such as for missing insurance payments).
What is high risk auto insurance?
This is referring to insurance for those who have been deemed high risk drivers, as we outlined above.
What is facility insurance and how does it relate to high risk drivers?
This refers to a special type of auto insurance offered to high risk drivers who are not able to get a standard auto insurance policy. Auto insurance is mandatory to drive in Ontario and as such, facility insurance gives high risk drivers an option to get coverage. It’s a last resort insurance option. Learn more here.
What is the residual market?
This is another term that is often used in tandem with facility insurance. The residual market is for those that cannot get auto insurance through regular channels – they are considered too much of a liability by insurers. The residual market satisfies one’s right to be insured, even as a high risk driver. Learn more here.
Want more resources about high risk auto insurance in Ontario? Check out all of our content here on the blog.