In recent years, you’ve acquired three or more tickets, been in numerous severe accidents, made several claims, or cancelled your insurance policy a few times. If any combination of this has occurred to you, you may be labelled a high-risk driver. In fact, you may have learned about your new “titling” through a notice you received in the mail: your insurance company notifying you of your policy’s cancellation. Probably not a great feeling, right? Now, a high-risk driver doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a “bad” driver. Some younger folks also qualify as high-risk drivers, and unfortunately, they’ll see it reflected in their premiums.
All insurance companies have underwriting rules where, if you do not meet their eligibility, they’ll be forced to cancel you. If you were cancelled due to your new titling as a high-risk driver, don’t despair! There are still means for high-risk drivers to find coverage.
High risk insurance in Ontario is the solution. Not every insurance company offers it, so it takes some shopping around to find the right fit for you. This article will go over what qualifies a person as a high-risk driver, how high risk insurance is different from ordinary insurance, and how to lower your rates if you class as a high risk driver.
What Qualifies Me as a “High-Risk Driver?”
A high-risk driver can be anyone who doesn’t have an excellent driving record. Typically, they are associated with the following characteristics:
- A major conviction – criminal speeding or a DUI
- Numerous, minor violations, such as accidents or tickets
- Driving without auto insurance
- Violations that result in you accumulating points on your record
- Numerous at-fault incidents in the last 3-5 years
Some insurance companies may also consider younger drivers or newer drivers more risky than drivers who have been around for a little longer. They may not meet the definition of high-risk driver, but they’ll certainly see heightened rates when compared with older, more experienced drivers. This can also apply to people who have recently moved to Canada whose driving experience doesn’t carry over.
How is High-Risk Auto Insurance Different from Ordinary Insurance?
High-risk auto insurance is essentially a broader term to describe a limited version of auto insurance that drivers can purchase who would otherwise have a difficult time finding affordable coverage opportunities. A high-risk designation will increase a driver’s insurance premiums, but know that this is not a permanent fixture. You’ll have to wait a few years for the infraction to drop off your record. You can do things in the meantime such as take a defensive driving course, avoid any further violations, or simply drive much less. Obviously, a DUI can’t exactly be mediated by any amount of insurance reduction efforts – it just takes time.
Depending on where you live, most providers for high-risk auto insurance will only supply you with the opportunity to purchase the province’s liability insurance minimum. You may be ineligible to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage due to your risk status.
How Do You Get Rid of a High-Risk Driver Designation?
You don’t – or at least, there’s nothing you can do right off the bat. Yes, there’s things you can do to technically lower your auto insurance rates, but you can only wait out a high-risk driver designation. Some provinces or providers will encourage people who have been labeled high-risk drivers to take a defensive driving course. This is a legal requirement for certain criminal convictions, such as DUIs or speeding convictions. Some insurers will offer you a defensive driver discount if you have taken an approved course, but unfortunately this will not remove your high-risk driver designation.
Some tips to reduce your insurance rates while being a high-risk driver include:
- Raising your deductible
- Taking an approved defensive driving course
- Downsizing your vehicle
- Taking transit more often to reduce mileage
- Bundling your policies
- Going paperless
The best way to ensure your rates stay low is to be a good driver. While you can only wait out your high-risk driver designation, it won’t do you any favours to continually rack up violations in the meantime. In any case, it’s always good to remind yourself of the necessary steps to preventing distracted driving (which is one of Ontario’s leading causes of collisions.) Those include:
- Monitoring the road for posted speed limits and adhering to them, no matter what
- Turning off your phone and placing it somewhere inaccessible in your car
- Wearing seat belts when your vehicle is in motion
- Avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Being a high-risk driver can be a downer for many people, but it’s not a permanent label. We hope that this article gave you some insights on the high-risk driver designation and what high-risk auto insurance is. An auto insurance broker will be able to help you shop around for high-risk auto insurance!