Canadian Underwriter

How to talk to clients about higher auto premiums

September 22, 2021   by Brooke Smith

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Auto insurance is a necessary evil — drivers can’t operate a vehicle without it. And any number of factors can increase drivers’ premiums.

Sometimes it’s simply the market. “The market goes up and down over time,” said Bruce Mackay, president of Mackay Insurance Brokers Inc. in Belleville, Ont. “Some things don’t change at all and [customers’] prices go up.”

Naturally, an at-fault accident or a speeding ticket can also affect rates — and sometimes in unexpected ways. “I’ve had situations where the price has gone up and the spouse had gotten the ticket but the other spouse isn’t aware. That’s an uncomfortable conversation to have,” he said. Other issues include adding another driver to the policy or if there’s been an underage driver.

Of course, there’s one issue no driver escapes: age. While rates may start to decrease after age 30 or 40, they can start to increase in your 70s. “All of a sudden, as soon as you hit 75, you start losing your discounts and your price starts going up,” said Mackay. “The older you get, the more expensive it can get, and it’s another uncomfortable conversation.”

But brokers can help ease premium increase pain. Mackay has a few tools.

Customers simply see price increasing year after year, said Mackay, but he uses a spreadsheet (showing 10 years’ worth of the customer’s premiums) as a “road map.”

“I show them what their premium was 10 years ago and what their premium is today, and, more often than not, their premium is cheaper today than it was 10 years ago.”

Second, he compares rates of other insurers — an important step, according to one rate comparison site.’s most recent data found that by not comparing car insurance rates, drivers are losing out on almost $15,000 in savings over their lifetimes.

Third, Mackay reviews a customer’s policy details, and if the customer has sourced another quote themselves, he reviews it thoroughly for aspects the customer may not have thought about, such as optional accident benefits.

As for those angry customers? “When we get a customer who’s hopping mad because their price went up, the first thing we want to do is diffuse the situation,” he said. Again, a policy review and a discussion go a long way. So does a personal anecdote.

“If I’ve been through a situation where even my own policy has gone up in price,” Mackay explained, “I say, ‘Mine went up $100 and I get it. I know in your case it’s gone up $25 every six months and you’re on a fixed income. So let’s see why it’s gone up. Let’s see if we can do anything about it to bring it down.’”

For Mackay, it’s about having open conversations. “Customers seem to appreciate that.”


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