Drivers in Niagara can expect to see an increase in their car insurance premiums, as rates are set to increase across the country this spring, says an online service and insurance industry spokespersons.
Provincewide premiums are increasing, on average, about 12 per cent, while Niagara communities will see increases of between six and 18 per cent.
Insurance providers said several factors including slower-than-normal supply chains, complexity of newer vehicles and inflation are impacting pricing for all driver types, as does the typical factors such as age, vehicle type, premium type and postal code.
A report by Rates.ca, an online service which helps consumers compare rates and seek insurers, highlighted recent increases in insurance premiums in Niagara, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie where premiums jumped 18 per cent to $1,560 from $1,327. Thorold, Welland and Port Colborne drivers saw an increase of 10 per cent to $1,463 from $1,327 and St. Catharines drivers saw a six per cent increase to $1,410 from $1,327.
“What we’re seeing is with significant inflation, the cost of car repairs and parts are going up, but cars themselves being much more intricate and having computer technology is making repairs more expensive and the cost of labour going up, as people are back on the roads after the pandemic,” said Daniel Ivans, an insurance expert with Rates.ca.
Ivans said premium increases are not a uniquely Canadian issue, rather Canada, and Ontario, is just catching up to pricing seen around the world.
“It’s a global challenge, so what we’ve seen over the last year and a half, in the U.K. and the U.S., is insurance companies taking on rate increases, and Ontario now is catching up,” he said.
“We’re seeing a massive spike in, not only claims, but the amount it takes to replace a car.”
Desjardins Insurance public relations adviser Jessica Spina agreed with Ivans that cars are becoming harder to replace for many reasons, not only due to the supply chain delays, but the complexity of the inner workings of a vehicle compared to 20 years ago.
“There’s a lot more electronics and technology behind them. Something as simple as replacing your sideview mirror, it’s not just replacing the mirror anymore,” she said.
“Now, is it a heated mirror? Does it have lane departure technology in it? It’s not just as simple as peeling and sticking a mirror, there’s different technology put into it.”
Ivans said the community with the largest increase for auto insurance in the region is Niagara Falls, which he theorized is due to new neighbourhood construction and city growth compared to more established cities like St. Catharines.
“In our chart for comparing auto insurance premiums, we see St. Catharines took on an average of a six per cent increase, whereas Niagara Falls, for example, saw an average of an 18 per cent increase,” said Ivans.
Spina said people should look at their policies and understand what their coverage entails to get the best policy for their vehicle.
“Just make sure you have a strong understanding of what you’re covered for.”
Spina encouraged people looking for a way to save on their premiums to ask their insurance providers about their telematics app, which helps to determine a driver’s patterns, giving discounts for good driving habits.
“(It’s a) user-based insurance. For example, we have Ajusto at Desjardins and it’s an opportunity for drivers to reduce their premium and are encouraged to continue to get safe tips, if they are maybe not as safe as they thought,” she said.
“There’s friendly reminders and encouragement to be even safer on the road and potentially save money.”
She said on average about 90 per cent of people using Ajusto have seen a “positive or neutral result.”
“We continue to work with that nearly 10 per cent that haven’t quite seen that yet,” she said.
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