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Does a medical condition impact your auto insurance rate?

A medical condition may not raise your insurance premium, but it could get your licence suspended in Ontario

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When an insurance company assesses an application and determines the car insurance premium, many factors are taken into consideration. The amount of car insurance premium depends on the risk of making a claim. To determine this risk, the insurance company collects information like the driver’s age, marital status, how much and where the driver drives, driving record, details about the vehicle, and the type and amount of coverage.

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Can a medical condition affect my insurance premium?

In a word, no. The Ontario Application for Automobile Insurance does not explicitly ask questions about medical conditions — it only asks drivers to check a box confirming that they deem themselves to be “qualified to hold a driver’s license,” with qualifications covering mental and physical fitness.

Beyond that, the driver’s medical health is not a factor that insurance companies take into consideration. Hence, a licence suspension due to a medical condition will not have a major impact on the driver’s vehicle insurance premium.

However, whether a medical condition has any bearing on a driver’s ability to obtain or keep a license is another story.

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What is medical license suspension?

As per Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) website, every driver must meet basic medical standards to drive a vehicle. This is also why passing a vision check is essential when applying for a G1 license.

Drivers may also be monitored of their health-related driving fitness well after the licensing process. The MTO requires medical practitioners — including doctors, optometrists and nurses —  to submit a Medical Condition Report (MCR) if a person exhibits health conditions that are deemed “high risk” enough to “warrant a license suspension”. Some of these could include ailments like dementia,  motor or sensory impairment, sudden incapacitation, visual impairment, certain psychiatric condition, and uncontrolled substance abuse, to name a few.

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Based on the report, the ministry and a medical advisory committee determine the driver’s ability to drive. If the committee has doubts regarding the driver’s ability, they can suspend the driver’s licence.

The MCR program is meant to keep unsafe drivers off the road, but some critics say that it goes too far. An in-depth investigation by the Toronto Star last year found that on average, 35,000 MCRs were filed each year by doctors (the figure did not include nurses, optometrists, and occupational therapists) — and many of those drivers were not notified until the day of their suspensions.

The investigation also found that these conditions ranged from genuine high-risk cases (like dementia, epilepsy, and strokes) to conditions including hay fever, common cold, and “disorders of menstruation.”

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In a few cases, drivers who had their licenses suspended were found later, upon appeal, not to have the conditions for which they were suspended at all.

Reinstating of licence

The process of getting your driver’s license back is known as reinstatement. When the ministry communicates medical license suspension to the driver, it could also ask for more medical information to consider reinstating the licence. Once this information is received, the ministry will review the driver’s medical condition to determine the next steps.

Some drivers may also be subject to a driving assessment at a local clinic or hospital in order to reinstate their licence. The fees for the driving assessment range from $200 to $1,000.

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Lastly, the driver can also appeal the decision to the Licence Appeals Tribunal (also at their own expense).

Would a medical licence suspension increase my car insurance premium?

Again, no. In Ontario, insurance companies cannot increase your premium rates if the suspension did not occur due to a criminal conviction — that includes medical suspensions. They also can’t raise your rates if the suspension lasted for less than a year.

The instances in which a premium will increase include licence suspension due to distracted driving, impaired driving, driving without an insurance policy, or if you have unpaid fines and too many demerit points.

And no matter when or why a licence suspension was issued, any driver who has had their licence reinstated is entitled to basic auto insurance — though some will be facing higher insurance rates. In all cases, it’s important to talk to a broker or compare different insurance quotes to make sure you’re getting the right coverage for you at the best price.

LowestRates.ca is a free and independent rate comparison website that allows Canadians to compare rates from 75+ providers for various financial products, such as auto and home insurance, mortgages, and credit cards.

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