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Choosing the right kind of auto insurance.

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Choosing the right kind of auto insurance.
OMA Insurance
1/1/2012
Ontario law requires that all drivers hold valid automobile insurance whenever they step behind the wheel. While drivers must purchase a minimum amount of basic insurance coverage, they also have the option of buying additional coverage to suit their specific needs. OMA Insurance Services has prepared an overview of the options available to drivers who are looking to purchase, or renew, their automobile insurance.

When shopping for automobile insurance, it is important to consider your options and to purchase the most cost-effective policy to suit your needs. Following is an overview of some key considerations.

No matter where you live in Canada, the law requires that you hold a valid auto insurance policy if you drive a car. If you are caught driving without insurance, the financial penalties are severe — you may also risk having your driver's licence suspended, and your vehicle impounded.  

Cost

There are many factors that determine how much you pay for auto insurance. They include:

  • Type of car: Generally, an expensive car costs more to insure. This is due to the higher cost of repairs, especially for foreign parts.
  • Where you drive: Urban drivers tend to pay more than those in rural areas due to higher rates of vandalism and accidents.
  • Driving record: A driver with an accident-free record for several years tends to pay less than an accident-prone driver.
  • How much you drive: Long distance commuters tend to pay more than those who drive less. The more time you spend on the road, the greater your exposure to the risk of accidents.

Basic Minimum Coverage

Review what is included in the basic minimum insurance coverage, and whether you have the option of increasing your coverage above the minimum levels. Following are some of the areas that may be covered, depending on the insurance company.

  • Third Party Liability: Provides coverage if you are deemed responsible for an accident causing fatalities, injuries or damage to someone's property.
  • Accident Benefits: Pays for medical expenses and loss of income after an accident, regardless of fault.
  • Uninsured Auto Coverage: Pays damages in the event of property damage or bodily injury caused by an uninsured driver.
  • Direct Compensation for Property Damage: Offers protection against damage to your car in the event of an accident that is not your fault.

Optional Coverage

After reviewing the basic minimum coverage, it is important to consider whether you require any optional coverage based on your specific car insurance needs. Some options to consider include the following:

  • Collision Coverage: Protects your vehicle if you are deemed responsible for an accident.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Protects your vehicle in the event of damage caused by vandalism, breakage, theft and fire.
  • Protecting a New Vehicle — Waiver of Depreciation: Most of a car's depreciation occurs in the first few years. A Waiver of Depreciation ensures that if your new car is stolen — and not recovered — or written off in an accident within a certain timeframe (for some insurance companies, within the first two years), it will be replaced without a charge for depreciation.
  • Accident-Free Protection: This optional coverage ensures your premium will not increase as a result of a first at-fault accident. As long as this option remains on your auto insurance, your first at-fault accident will be treated as though it never happened. This may also be referred to as being "forgiven."
  • Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles: This optional coverage protects you in the event you damage an automobile, camper or trailer you rent or borrow anywhere in Canada or the United States. Depending on the type of vehicle you rent for personal use, you will not need the insurance offered by the rental company.
  • Personalized Auto Insurance: Some insurance companies allow you to personalize your auto coverage by offering a package that protects you in all of the following situations:

            1. You damage a car that you borrowed or rented.

            2. You need a rental car if your car is stolen or needs repairs after an accident.

            3. You require roadside assistance if your car breaks down.

Deductibles

A deductible is the amount you have to pay on any claim that is your responsibility. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you need to pay the first $1,000 of the covered loss before the insurance company pays.

A higher deductible lowers your premium but increases the amount you must pay in the event of a collision or a comprehensive loss.

Insuring Automobiles for Pleasure Use

Some auto insurance policies provide coverage for a vehicle that is used strictly for pleasure (versus work) if it is registered in the company name for tax purposes. For other policies, if the insured works under a corporate name and owns a private vehicle, the insurance company can insure the vehicle in the corporate name, as long as it meets their guidelines and is not considered a commercial vehicle.

Insuring Items in Your Automobile

It may be surprising to learn that some items you keep in your automobile are not covered by your auto insurance if they are damaged or stolen.

Basically, anything that is not a permanent fixture, such as electronic devices, clothing or sporting gear, is covered through your property insurance — not your auto insurance. By insuring both your home and vehicle with one insurance company, you may save on your overall premium. And if you have a claim that involves both, you might pay only one deductible.

More Information

There are many options to consider when deciding which company to use for automobile insurance. The OMA's auto and home insurance program offers you and your family exceptional savings and a commitment to outstanding customer service.

For more information about choosing the right policy to suit your needs, please call 1.877.277.7165, or visit the OMA Insurance website at: www.omainsurance.com.