Something that is quite straight forward for Canadians often turns out to be more complicated for those who are new to Canada. Searching for auto insurance and getting a cheap car insurance policy is one such issue, but we are here to help. Here are some questions you need to answer and steps you need to take to get cheap car insurance if you are new to Canada.
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Question #1: Where, and how long, do you plan to stay in Canada?The provinces treat out-of-country driving licences differently – some can be converted into Canadian ones (meaning that Canada has a reciprocal licence exchange agreement with this country), while others cannot, meaning that you will need to pass a knowledge test and/or a road test. If your driving licence originates from a country that has an agreement with Canada and can be converted into a Canadian licence, there is also the question of how long you can drive with your out-of-country driving licence before you have to convert it, and these times vary by province. Here are examples from Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia:
* you need to have a valid home jurisdiction drivers licence and an International Drivers Permit (see here)
60 Days 365 days* 90 days
What countries can convert its driving licences into to Canadian ones?
Australia Austria Belgium France Germany Great Britain Isle of Man Japan Republic of Korea Switzerland Taiwan New Zealand Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland
Australia (Class 5 & 6) Austria (Class 5) Belgium (Class 5) France (Class 5) Germany (Class 5) Isle of Man (Class 5 & 6) Japan (Class 5) Republic of Korea (Class 5) Switzerland (Class 5 & 6) Taiwan (Class 5) United Kingdom (Northern Ireland – Class 5 & 6) United Kingdom (England, Scotland & Wales – Class 5) United States (Class 5, 6 & 7)
Austria Australia France Germany Guernsey Isle of Man, Jersey Ireland Japan Netherlands (except former territories in Antilles) New Zealand South Korea (not motorcycles) Switzerland Taiwan (not motorcycles) United Kingdom (includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) United States (includes Washington DC and Puerto Rico)
How long can you drive without converting your licence?
Question #2: What does the process of the licence exchange look like?It is actually quite straight-forward. You bring your existing licence to one of the government locations, such as Service Alberta (in Alberta) or Service Ontario (in Ontario). You will get a Canadian driving licence and your existing, out-of-country licence will be taken away. There might be some additional documents that you could be asked for, like proof that you have more than two years of driving experience.
Question #3: How to search for cheap car insurance?Getting car insurance in Canada is similar to many other countries, unless you are located in one these three provinces: British Columbia (BC), Manitoba (MB) or Saskatchewan (SK). There is only one provider of car insurance in these provinces: the crown corporation (government corporation) – ICBC in BC, MPI in MB and SGI in SK. In any other province, you can buy car insurance through an insurance broker or directly from an insurance company (or its agent). The best way to compare the market quickly and find cheap car insurance is to use one of the online platforms that covers numerous insurance companies. Here are four that you should be considering (including InsurEye) due to the number of companies covered.
*These lists of companies (based on the website information in February 2017) often relate to Ontario and can be different for other provinces These providers offer you a quote online or somebody will contact you once you have left your contact data requesting a quote. Is that all? Not really. We suggest checking the websites of more companies that are not often included in the aggregator search because they sell car insurance directly through their own contact centres or online:
21 12 25 11
Number of companies compared
List of companies compared*
Aviva, CAA, Chieftain, Coachman, Cowan Insurance Group, Echelon, Economical Insurance, Facility Association, The Guarantee Company, Gore Mutual Insurance, Hagerty, Intact, Jevco, Pafco, Pembridge, Perth Insurance Company, Portage Mutual Insurance, RSA, Travelers, Unica, Wawanesa Insurance, Wayfarer
Aviva, CAA, Chieftain, Coachman, Echelon, Grey Power, Intact, Jevco, Perth Insurance, RSA Dominion, Economical Insurance, Western Assurance Company
Allstate, Aviva, Belairdirect, CAA, Coachman, COSECO, Desjardins Insurance, Echelon, Economical Insurance, Gore Mutual Insurance, Industrial Alliance, Intact, Jevco, Johnson Insurance, Millennium Insurance, National Bank Insurance, Pafco, Pembridge, Perth Insurance, SSQ, TD Insurance, The Co-Operators, Chieftain, Dominion, Wawanesa Insurance
Aviva, Chieftain, Coachman, Economical Insurance, Intact, Jevco, Perth Insurance, RSA, Dominion, Western Assurance Company, Unica
- TD Insurance / Meloch Monnex (large insurer selling insurance online and via call center)
- Sonnet Insurance
- Belairdirect (large insurer selling insurance online and via call center)
- AMA (Western provinces only)
Question #4: How will insurers treat a lack of driving experience in Canada?
This is a very important question that will significantly impact your insurance rate. Insurers form two different groups when it comes to your out-of-country driving experience:
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- No consideration of your driving experience: Some insurers will accept the fact that you can buy car insurance (with a newly received Canadian driving licence) but will treat you like somebody who has just got a driving licence and has no driving experience. If you are a young driver in Ontario, your rates can reach $250-$350 per month – not a very attractive scenario!
- Consideration of your prior driving experience: Some companies will treat your former driving experience with respect and consideration when offering you an insurance policy and will give you a cheap insurance quote.Personal experience – when I moved to Canada, TD Insurance acknowledged my driving experience in Germany, and my rates were similar to those of other Canadians even though I was new to the country. That situation can constantly change – so check with a few companies on how they would treat your case, or speak with an insurance broker.
Question #5: How can I reduce my car insurance rates even further?There are many aspects that impact your auto insurance price and help you to get cheap car insurance. Some of them can be influenced by you (model of the car, for example), but other things are tied to aspects beyond your control, like your age and gender. Considerations include: Location: Car insurance rates vary by location, and the differences can be dramatic. For example, if you live in Brampton, Ontario – be prepared to pay far higher insurance rates than drivers in other locations. Some insurers might even consider you high-risk. Car make: All cars are different and come with various risk profiles (frequency of being stolen, chance of an accident, etc.). Here is a list of the least expensive top-selling cars to insure as per insuranceholtine.com:
- Volkswagen Jetta
- Volkswagen Golf
- Toyota Camry
- Hyundai Accent
- Chevrolet Cruze
- Mazda Mazda3
- Hyundai Elantra
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Corolla
- Ford Fusion
Question #6: Cheap Car Insurance in Canada – What else should you know?Accidents on your records: The more time that passes by after your last accident, the better you look in the eyes of an insurer:
- Your ticket convictions fall off after three years
- Your accidents impact your record less, year after year, for up to 20 years.