Accidents happen, everyone knows, and even insurance companies acknowledge that, as many offer first offense forgiveness, so a ticket or minor at-fault accident may not increase your insurance premiums. However, there are those who need to make a few mistakes before taking lessons to heart, and they can build a bad driving record with a few offenses over a short period of time. What can the driver with a poor record expect when insurance renewal time comes around?
Driving Records and Risk
At the start of a car insurance quote, everyone is equal. As you enter your age, gender, address, and other personal information, an insurer compares you with its own actuarial data to determine how risky you may be to insure. At this point, you are compared to general statistics, which may or may not have any relevance to who you are or how you drive. You’re categorized against averages.
Your driving record, however, is a specific that insurers can look at to learn about you and how you may deviate from the statistical group to which you’ve been assigned. No tickets, accidents or insurance claims previously? That’s good news and it will have a positive effect on your premiums, particularly if you’ve been driving for a few years. You’re low-risk. The insurance company is happy to give you a good rate because they know you’re unlikely to make a claim through poor driving choices.
The driver who collects speeding tickets, for example, demonstrates he does not make good choices. The chances of him having an accident are higher, so the insurer marks him as high-risk. His premiums go up, and each time he adds another ticket to his collection – repeat offenses – he’s likely to see even higher insurance costs.
The National Picture
These rules hold true no matter where you live in Canada. While four provinces – Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia – have public insurance programs for some or all of your car insurance coverage, bad driving records affect premiums in all cases.
Don’t be confused by no-fault insurance either. It doesn’t mean no one is held accountable for causing an accident. It simply means your insurer pays some or all of your costs stemming regardless of which driver is at fault. Ontario, for example, blends no-fault and litigation-based coverage. Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are largely or completely no-fault, while Alberta, British Columbia and the Maritimes are all litigation, or tort, based.
Reducing the Effects of a Bad Driving Record
For the driver who has acquired a bad driving record for whatever reason, the best defense is aggressive shopping for coverage. Each insurer develops their own system for calculating risk, so your record will score differently with various insurers. While it’s not likely you will find pre-incident insurance rates, you may find savings of hundreds of dollars a year. You can start right here by entering your postal code and requesting the cheapest quotes for your situation. It’s simple, fast and free.