In an age of identity theft and information fraud, revealing personal information is something many Canadians do with caution. When it comes to car insurance, much of the information upon which insurers base premiums is personal by nature; where you live, your driving and insurance history. Are there limits to what an insurance company can and can’t ask? For the information you do need to provide, how is it protected? Can insurers share it?
These are timely questions in light of Bill S-4, now before the House of Commons. Provisions of this bill affect how insurance companies can share information without consent in certain circumstances. The Bill is proposing the disclosure of personal information when it is:
“made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of detecting or suppressing fraud or of preventing fraud that is likely to be committed and is reasonable to expect that the disclosure with the knowledge or consent of the individual would compromise the ability of preventing, detect or suppress the fraud.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada supports the sections due to efforts of the insurance industry as a whole to address fraud. In Ontario, car insurance fraud is thought to cost into the billions of dollars, one of the main reasons that car insurance in the province is the highest in the country.
Critics of the Bill suggest that it opens the doors too wide over current legislation which allows this sort of information sharing but only by registered investigative organizations. Two insurance companies could not, for example, share information about a driver or incident, but could involve the IBC, which is a registered investigative body. The problem with that route, though, is expediency.
Though the landscape may change with the pending legislation, let’s look at what personal information is needed by insurers. Typically, a car insurance company needs information about you that:
- Establishes your identity
- Allows communication with you
- Facilitates payment of premiums (credit or bank information)
- Allows analysis and assessment of your insurability
- Complies with legal and industry reporting requirements.
To accomplish this, most insurers collect:
- Name, address, phone numbers, and email addresses
- Birthdate, marital status, and gender
- Driving record
- Medical information
- Details of your vehicle
- Insurance and claims history
- Employment information
- Banking information
- Other information collected as required by law or with your consent.
Sources of personal information include:
- You or people that you authorize
- Government, insurance industry and any other organization permitted by law that has information relative to you and your insurability, such as driving and claims history
- Consumer reporting agencies
How do I get an anonymous car insurance quote without having to buy or sign up?
It is generally not possible to get an anonymous car insurance quote without providing some personal information, as insurance companies need certain information to provide an accurate quote. However, there are a few ways that you can get a quote without having to buy or sign up for insurance:
- Use an online quote tool: Many insurance companies offer online quote tools that allow you to input some basic information about your car and driving history to get an estimate of your insurance rates. These tools typically require you to provide some personal information, but you can choose to opt out of receiving further communication from the company.
- Contact an insurance broker: Insurance brokers can help you find insurance quotes from multiple companies, and can often provide quotes without requiring you to sign up or buy insurance. However, you may need to provide some personal information to the broker in order to get an accurate quote.
- Use a comparison website: There are several websites that allow you to compare insurance rates from multiple companies. These sites typically require you to provide some personal information, but you can choose to opt out of receiving further communication from the companies.