Many Canadians have been driving far less during the COVID-19 pandemic, but more than half of them did not reach out to their auto insurer to inquire about discounts or changes to their policies, according to a new survey from rate comparison site Ratehub.ca.
The national poll of more than 1,300 Canadians with auto insurance found that 57% did not reach out to their insurer, while 38% did. “That means many Canadians may have missed out on significant savings,” Ratehub.ca said in a press release last week.
Insurance Bureau of Canada has reported that Canadian property and casualty insurers have offered nearly $2.5 billion in premium relief to consumers since the start of the pandemic. Relief measures included premium discounts, extension of coverage, deferral options, and waiving of non-sufficient funds fees.
In analyzing who did not reach out to their insurers, Ratehub observed significant differences between the provinces. Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents made up the highest number of those who didn’t reach out to their insurer (78%), followed by British Columbia (75%), Atlantic Canada (62%), Alberta (61%), Quebec (58%) and Ontario (45%).
Tyler Wade, Ratehub’s senior content strategist, speculated in a blog that drivers in provinces with public auto insurance (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and B.C.) may not have reached out to their insurance providers because the drivers were granted automatic discounts.
Matt Hands, Ratehub’s director of insurance, agreed. “They know they have to deal directly with the government,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “They know they don’t have any options to shop around. They were happy to get the automatic discounts,” he suggested.
Of the nearly four in ten drivers (38%) who did reach out to their car insurance company:
24% inquired about lowering their rate due to less frequent driving
20% inquired about discounts due to the pandemic
14% asked about changing their coverage due to less driving.
3% asked about cancelling their insurance completely due to less driving.
Ontario residents were significantly more likely than the rest of Canada to have contacted their insurer, Ratehub reported. Half of Ontario residents (50%) contacted their auto insurer, compared to 40% in Quebec, 37% in Alberta, 32% in Atlantic Canada, and 19% in B.C., Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
Hands said Ontario drivers pay the most for auto insurance in the private insurance market. “Because they know that it’s the private market, they know they have a little bit of recourse to reach out.
“Any way you look at [those drivers who contacted their insurer], they saved money,” Wade added. “Automatic discounts are one thing, but a change to your driving behaviour could yield more savings. You can put your car insurance on hold or reduce coverage to only comprehensive (parked car insurance), cancel car insurance on a car and sell it (if there’s no more commute), or even reduce the kilometres you drive in a given year.
“A quick study using Ratehub’s car insurance calculator revealed savings of more than $200 per year by reducing your kilometres. If you’re not commuting to school or work anymore, there are significant car insurance savings.”
Why don’t more people reach out? “Canadians don’t really have a hands-on approach when it comes to their insurance products,” Hands said. “You don’t really think about it, and may not even understand fully how the coverage works. I find that mentality often inhibits people from reaching out to insurers to discuss potential discounts and payments, and they just feel like there probably isn’t anything available when… there [are] a lot of options available.”