Attending college or university is the first taste of life away from home for many Canadians. While the freedom and independence are welcomed by many, others can be overwhelmed by “adulting” – taking care of the details of life that previously their parents addressed. One of those tasks may be car ownership. While cars can make life convenient, they represent an expense at a time when most can work only part-time to support their studies. Bargain hunting and controlled expenses are facts of life and this applies to car insurance as well.
Factors Affecting Student Insurance
Insurance companies each have their own recipe used to make up individual insurance policies. This recipe consists of a mix of history, demographics and personal information. Some factors you can’t do much about. For example, if you’ve already decided on a school and where to live, your new postal code affects your premiums.
Other factors depend on your history, which also limits your options. If you’re a new driver or have some tickets on your driving record, those conditions can raise your premiums for about three years. The car you drive and the year it was made can also affect your rates, up or down, depending on the car and how your insurance company classes it.
Some things you can affect is your choice of coverage. While you need to maintain minimum coverage as set by the province in which your car is licensed, you can add more coverage or change your deductible, so your decisions affect the cost of insurance.
Ways to Keep Student Insurance Costs Down
If you’re not using your car to drive to classes daily, this can lower your premiums, but you may be required to prove the fact. For example, if you are living in residence, walking to classes and using the car once or twice a week and for occasional visits home, an insurer may permit you to insure as an occasional use vehicle.
Some students remain at home and as such stay in their parents’ car insurance policy. Make sure the policy accurately reflects how the student uses any vehicle for which he is covered. If, after an incident, it is found that the student was using the car daily, but was insured as an occasional driver, insurance coverage may be cancelled and the policyholder could be vulnerable to fraud charges.
A new feature becoming common in Canada is usage-based insurance, sometimes called telematics. A device is installed in the student’s vehicle that transmits data on when and how the car is driven. With this information, a vehicle that is truly occasional use will be easy for the insurer to confirm.
Taking Advantage of Regional Differences
With provincial regulations each having its own quirks and details, it can get confusing to compare policies, particularly if you’re studying in another province. Your car will be insured in the province it is registered, so you may have a choice of whether to register in your study province or your home base. For example, a student from Ontario, where car insurance premiums are the highest in Canada, but who is going to school in the Maritimes, where premiums are among the lowest, may wish to get provincial plates and insurance where they study. Since Ontario rates can be double that of some other provinces, this could represent annual savings of over $1,000. Check with provincial government agencies to see if you meet residency requirements. The list below contains links to each province’s licensing and registration agency.