BODYSHOP Professional magazine is surveying shops to identify from shop owners, their feelings on the performance of each of the insurance companies that pay for repairs on vehicles in their shop. The survey asks questions on knowledge, payment, communications safety etc. Planned for publication in December the survey will rank insurers from A+ to D in each category.
This is your chance as a shop owner, to have your say, without having in your name revealed in the media. Shops are often rated by insurers, now it is your turn to rate insurers. The survey results will tell insurers which areas need addressing in their relationship with collision repair facilities.
The survey link is below and we urge you to use it soon.
No-fault insurance is an oxymoron. Fault is determined in every accident, using the Fault Determination Guide as set out in the Insurance Act. To view the Fault Determination Rules, click below:
No-fault insurance actually means that if you get in to an accident, regardless whether or not it's "Your Fault", your own insurance pays for the damage to your vehicle and for your injuries. No-fault insurance was created to increase consumer satisfaction with claims handling, as you only have to deal with your own insurance company, not somebody else's company when paying for your damages.
(Can not be bought - it can be applied if the insurance company wishes to use it)
Absolute forgiveness - no increase whatever in premiums after an at-fault claim - is available to the best drivers from some companies at no additional cost.
But most companies will increase premiums after the first at-fault claim in five or more years. Most insurers which offer accident forgiveness make their clients do penance. They drop the policyholder to a lower claims-free or star rating, which will result in an increase in premiums for several years. The increase is simply less than drivers would suffer if their insurers demoted them to a zero star or zero claims-free rating.Some will raise premiums by more than 50 per cent.
Further claims, or a combination of claims and convictions for driving infractions, could result in the insurer refusing to renew your policy.
Convictions for driving infractions can affect a policyholder's right to what insurers call accident forgiveness, as well as the ability to buy the optional claims protection feature.
"Good drivers" should get a break and not be saddled with large premium increases after a small claim. Always check to make sure you are getting the best rate out there by going to www.InsuranceHotline.com.
(It can be bought - it's also called Premium Protection or Accident Waiver )
Most insurers will sell drivers claims or premium protection. The majority of drivers would qualify to buy it, but many have not bothered. This protection would allow you to maintain your "good standing" with your insurance company after an at-fault accident. The cost is usually around $35 to $50 dollars, which is like "buying insurance for your insurance."
This means your renewal after an at-fault accident will show the same star rating and there will not be an increase in premium, as a result of the claim.
The claims protection is usually removed immediately after the claim and a second accident would not have this protection. Further claims, or a combination of claims and convictions for driving infractions, could result in the insurer refusing to renew the policy. In some cases, claims protection will entitle the policyholder to an extra at-fault claim before the insurer will refuse to renew the policy. This protection could disappear, however, if the policyholder reported an at-fault loss even if he or she paid for the damages personally.
Here's which Insurance Companies offer Accident Forgiveness and Claims Protection
There is NO clear delineation of what an insurer can and cannot do to you with regards to Accident Forgiveness or Claims Protection. "A uniform standard of forgiveness would undermine the stated goal; to foster a more competitive market" reports the Finance Minister Greg Sorbara. Personally, I don't agree with the Finance Minister on this one, says Lee Romanov.
Here is the most comprehensive chart available indicating which insurance companies offer Accident Forgiveness or Claims Protection and their conditions:
( Courtesy of Lee Romanov, insurancehotline.com )
The furious debate over how much Ontarians really pay for auto insurance reached one conclusion yesterday -- consumers should shop around.
The Canadian Consumers' Association reported yesterday that Ontario's rates are, on average, 45 per cent higher than in British Columbia. And while Hamilton drivers pay the lowest rates in the Greater Toronto Area, their premiums are still far higher than in other Ontario cities. You can usually find a better deal. The Consumers group study almost 4 million quotes for insurance.
Most drivers find the average company, rather than the lowest rate," sys Lee Romanov, founder of the Consumers' Guide to Insurance. She said most insurance agents and brokers are tied to just four or five carriers and some handle just one or two. That means many consumers aren't finding the best deal.
Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, said owners in Ontario are getting burned.
He says studies show a third of Ontario's car accidents aren't reported to insurance companies
"Consumers in Ontario have been clearly harmed by outrageous price increases for auto insurance over the past three years," says Cran, whose group released a report comparing rates in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
Mark Yakabuski, vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said the consumers report shows that there are outlets among Ontario's 150 insurers that offer comparable rates to the British Columbia's government-run monopoly.
"What I want to encourage people to do is indeed take advantage of what we have here in Ontario, a very competitive market," Yakabuski said.
"Look at the many, many other choices that you have before you make your final decisions as to whether you want to go with this company or that company."
The two sides did not agree on much else.
By studying close to four-million quotes in Ontario, the association concluded the province's average insurance premium is $2,384, compared to $1,325 in British Columbia and $1,715 in Alberta.
But Yakabuski says the real number is more like $1,279 and that rates have fallen by 15 per cent -- about $200 a vehicle -- over the past 18 months.
He said the consumers report didn't take into account discounts offered to customers with more than one car, home insurance policies with the same company or rewards for being a loyal customer.
The Ontario government, which pledged to reduce auto insurance rates when they were elected in 2003, also presented numbers in line with industry figures.
The average Ontarian paid $1,391 for insurance in 2004, with 2005 rates projected at $1,379, a finance ministry spokesman said yesterday.
Beyond the provincial differences, the consumers report found vast gaps between premiums paid in Ontario cities.
Hamilton car owners pay almost $600 less for insurance than some drivers in the Greater Toronto Area but more than those in Guelph, London, Ottawa, Windsor and 21/2 times more than drivers in Victoria, B.C.
Perhaps even more eye-popping is knowing that the same driver with one ticket and one accident can pay between $2,051 and $17,468 for insurance in Ontario.
The Ontario government released those numbers in its 2005 rate guide for insurance in February. It showed a 19-year-old driver with a clean record could pay anywhere from $5,750 to $15,551 and a 40-year-old with no accidents or tickets pays between $1,763 and $6,992.
Romanow says many companies charge huge rates for business they aren't really interested in having.
"Basically, the company is saying, 'Go away, we don't want your type of business.' Instead of knocking on your door and telling you to your face, they set these huge rates."
But some consumers are paying that premium, perhaps out of a misguided sense of loyalty to a particular company or the belief they can't do any better. She said everyone should compare their premiums every time their renewal comes up.
"Ontario is paying 45 per cent more than B.C. because people aren't getting the low rates. Consumers really need to wake up."
Yakabuski defended Ontario's free-market system, saying the province's claims payout is "enormously more generous" than those in British Columbia. The average claims payment, including injury and property damage, is close to $9,000 in Ontario and less than $2,400 in B.C., according to the bureau.
Yakabuski says Ontario's auto insurers paid out $1.5 billion in health-care costs, $3 billion in vehicle repairs and $1.6 billion defending people being sued.
Cran counters payouts are higher in Ontario because a $30,000 deductible on personal injuries wiped out any small claims, and Ontario drivers are "scared out of their tree about reporting fender-benders."
He says studies show a third of Ontario's car accidents aren't reported to insurance companies.
Yakabuski also said the availability of insurance has improved dramatically. In March 2004, there were more than 226,000 vehicles insured through Facility Association -- the last resort for drivers who can't find regular coverage.
Last month, that was down to 36,868.
"Premiums can drop from $5,000 a year to $1,700."
For a copy of the Consumer's Association report, see here:
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org 905-526-3408 with files from The Canadian Press
AVERAGE ANNUAL AUTO INSURANCE RATES BY CITY
In Ontario, 59 per cent of individuals with auto insurance are unsure how insurers are calculating their rates and may therefore be unintentionally paying higher premiums, according to a recent President's Choice Financial®/Ispos Reid Survey.
In addition, 64 per cent with auto insurance exhibit interest in researching alternative insurers based on price and product comparison. However, the survey found that this response decreases with age with only 53 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older likely to shop around as compared to 77 per cent of those aged18 to 34. Women are seven per cent more likely than men to investigate alternative insurance providers.
"Added benefits like 24/7 hassle-free claims service, a disappearing deductible, or discounts for applying online all add to better consumer value," Geoffrey Wilson, senior vice president, investor relations and public affairs of Loblaw Companies Ltd., says.
A disappearing deductible is a unique feature that rewards drivers with a reduction on their deductible for a pre-determined claim-free period, therefore after a set amount of time with a clean driving record the deductible will disappear completely.
According to the survey, 90 per cent of insureds view a disappearing deductible as a "real benefit" and 82 per cent say it may help them determine which provider to sign with.
The findings reflect results of an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted from March 22 to March 24 and March 29 to March 31, 2005. The survey was conducted based on a random sample of 840 adult Ontario residents who had auto insurance at the time of the interview. Data was weighted to ensure a regional and age/sex composition representative of the Canadian population according to the 2001 Census. (courtesy BODYSHOP magazine and www.bodyshopbiz.com)