If you own or lease a vehicle in the province of Ontario, you have to have insurance. It’s the law.
Or you better, because the penalties for not having coverage are significant, with fines starting at $5,000, depending on the situation.
But let’s not focus on the negative.
Insurance for your vehicles can be a relatively simple topic if we start with the idea in mind that knowledge is king.
In other words, the more an insurance broker knows about what your specific situation is and what you may need from an insurance policy—looking ahead of course—the better equipped your provider will be to offer a custom solution to meet those needs.
That said, sometimes a broker has to ask the right questions when it comes to what someone really needs in an auto policy.
Good questions are at the heart of a good discussion leading up to an auto policy that will provide value when someone needs to make a claim.
Let me step back for a minute and talk about what an auto policy really provides someone.
Most would think first of the damage to a vehicle being covered and that’s certainly part of it. But it’s not just the physical damage to a vehicle. It’s accident benefits and liability insurance, which are in place to help protect you in the event of an injury that results from an accident.
And here’s where things aren’t as simple as you might think.
Let’s say you and I get in my car and go on a trip. There’s an accident and you’re hurt, requiring some sort of medical coverage for your injuries. But you have your own policy and that’s where you will go for coverage for your injuries.
As you can see, the driver’s policy isn’t necessarily going to cover the passenger from an accident benefit standpoint, but if you don’t have a car, that might change things. In that case, you would claim benefits on my policy because you’re in my car.
The good news is that these scenarios, and many, many more, have been thought through by not only the insurance industry but the government, which is the regulator.
But education around the issue of auto insurance is important.
Consider also a change in wording that the government implemented, lowering the basic limit on benefits that an insurance policy would provide.
The idea behind that change was to reduce the opportunity for fraud, which in a community like Sarnia-Lambton is not as big of a problem as elsewhere, like the Greater Toronto Area.
So how does someone get additional coverage from an auto policy?
That’s where the flexibility comes in. While your new policy may come with lower benefits, it’s likely at a cost that would, adjusted for increases elsewhere, be in itself lower.
For someone who wants more coverage, that becomes a choice that’s widely available, typically for a very reasonable additional fee that’s tied to the specific policy.
Your best move is to talk to your insurance broker about the specifics of your auto policy, ask questions and be open to the great “what ifs” when it comes to what you need going down the road.
Barry Hogan is president of Gamble Hub International, an insurance broker based in Sarnia. Hub International has offices throughout Ontario and can be found on the web at www.hubinternational.com.