What’s going on with car insurance rates in Durham?
While auto insurance premiums in many Ontario cities fell last year, in Durham rates actually rose noticeably in Oshawa and many rural areas, and slightly in Whitby, according to RATESDOTCA.
“We’re all over Eastern Ontario, and we’re seeing higher rates in Durham Region… Someone will call from Oshawa and say ‘why are my rates so much higher than elsewhere?’ said Kelly McKinney, director at McDougall Insurance.
RATESDOTCA cartography premiums by postal code and found Ontario’s average premium in 2021 was down 3.8% from 2020.
In Oshawa, car insurance premiums increased by 12.1% from 2020 to 2021. In rural Durham, residents of Cannington, Sunderland, Orono and Port Perry saw a 9.5% increase. For Whitby, car insurance rates increased by 0.9%.
The rest of Durham has seen a decline. Residents of Ajax, who have the highest auto insurance premiums in Durham (and the second highest in all of Ontario), saw a 1.7% decline. Pickering fares (second highest in Durham and sixth highest in Ontario) fell 0.1%.
Most Clarington residents have seen significant savings with a 10.9% drop in premiums in Courtice, Bowmanville and Newcastle. Residents of Kendal saw a 7.6 drop in rates in 2021.
Provincially, the decline in auto insurance premiums was caused by several factors, primarily:
•Professionals using their car less when working from home.
•Insurers offering relief measures through reduced rates and rebates.
•Fewer new drivers behind the wheel due to pending testing.
Overall, Durham residents in rural areas and small towns still pay less for car insurance premiums than people living in larger urban areas. Average fares range from $1,175 in Kendal to $2,104 in Pickering.
“I always want to tie road congestion to insurance. We tend to find that when you get into busier areas of Durham, 5 o’clock on Taunton Road in Whitby, it’s brutal,” said Rorie McIntosh, chairman of McCam Insurance. “Areas that have a lot more population growth and a lot more congestion, there’s a lot more hit and run, little fender benders, a lot more stuff happening… As Durham gets bigger and we get more people in our region, unfortunately, it changes the driving dynamics.”
McKinney agreed that it made sense that the cheapest insurance rates would be those in areas that have less traffic and fewer cars on the road, which means fewer accidents. Other times the variation in premiums doesn’t make sense, he adds, such as when someone moves two blocks away and finds their insurance costs go up because they have a new code. postal.
“Some call it discrimination by zip code. Insurance companies have 50 years of data that they use,” McKinney said.
Local insurance experts have tips for drivers looking to get the best rate:
• When shopping for insurance, find a broker who works with a large number of insurance companies.
“Every insurance company certainly has a different demographic; they have the perfect client. Fortunately, not all insurance companies have exactly the same image of the ideal client. Which then means you have a choice,” McIntosh said. “Make sure you’re with a company that really wants you.”
• When your life changes (if you move from an urban area to a rural area or upgrade your vehicle), check with your broker to make sure your current insurance company is still the best fit.
• Consider a new type of policy.
— Usage-based insurance tracks distance traveled and charges by miles. Most traditional plans assume that the driver travels 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers per year. For people who are now working remotely from home, it may be worth asking your broker for usage-based insurance.
— Telematics-based insurance is more about setting the best rates for good drivers. A cellphone app can track how hard a driver brakes, how fast they drive, and how fast they turn around corners.
Both of these policies are new and not all insurance companies offer them yet, but it is a change that could happen in the industry.
• Most importantly, keep your driving record clean.
“Driving is more stressful I think now than ever on our roads and stress leads to a lack of patience, it leads to people cutting others off. The politeness isn’t there as much as it used to be. I think that is part of what happens with rates,” McIntosh said.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: A review of auto insurance premiums across Ontario showed that something interesting happened in several parts of Durham, where residents saw rates go up rather than down last year. We turned to local experts to get a clearer picture of the changing nature of car insurance.