help wanted

It looks like we'll be buying a car shortly after arriving in Canada. We weren't sure if we were going to lease, or how long we'd wait to buy, or what, but now we've decided. We're buying a new (as opposed to used) car very soon. Exciting!

Not owning a car in New York City has served us well. Bringing a car from the US to Canada is an amazing pain in the butt, requiring an enormous amount of paperwork and rigmarole. We've got quite enough of that in our lives as it is, with more to come. If we did own a car, I think we'd have sold it and bought another one anyway. It seems much easier to buy a car in Canada than to "import" (the official term) one from the US.

So, do any Ontario residents have any tips about auto insurance? How to get better rates, what to avoid, obscure laws we must know? I've checked out some basics here and here, but if you have any advice or pointers, I'd love to hear them.

I know many of you aren't blogging on the weekend, so I'll patiently await your replies.


Marnie said...

Dang, I've been meaning to ask if you needed help with anything at this end, but in this area I'm useless. I don't drive and don't know a thing about the system. (Except for the obvious: all insurance companies are evil and will make your life hell whenever they can.) No doubt the others will have some useful suggestions for you.

Need help with anything in my (sadly limited) fields of expertise?

Anonymous said...

Hey L-Girl

The last 2 times my insurance came up for renewal I used "insurancehotline.com" It's a free service based out of Toronto that does all the work for you. You just type in your info and it spits out the best 3 quotes you can find in any particular area of Canada.
I saved over $1100 the first year I used it.
I find auto insurance a big hassle and it's easy to have all the shopping done for me in about 10 seconds.

laura k said...

Marnie: I can almost guarantee that I will need your help, perhaps several times along the way. You are very sweet to offer and to back it up.

ALPF: Cool! That is a substantial savings and sounds so easy!

I've never purchased car insurance, and the last time Allan did was a very long time ago, so we are really at a loss here. This sounds like a great time-saving and hassle-saving device. Many thanks!

laura k said...

Also, if anyone can tell me what's an average annual cost of auto insurance, for an adult driver with a good driving record, I'd greatly appreciate it. I realize this varies with car make, deductible, etc., but even a ballpark figure would be helpful.

Anonymous said...


There are huge differences in Auto rates up here. I suspect that since you have not been continuously insured for a length of time it would be quite expensive.
I pay just over $1600 a year for 2 vehicles (was $2700 with my old company) However I have been insured continuously since 1985 and have never made a claim or had a ticket. If you have any past claims or have been ticketed for speeding etc... wow!!!
I have friends who pay over $2500-$3000 a year for 1 vehicle.
Good luck.

laura k said...

Ah ha, that may explain the quotes I saw.

I was expecting to see around $1500-2000 - but it was more than $4000.

It may be because we have not been continuously insured. We both have perfect driving records, but haven't owned a car in 20+ years - and when you rent cars, you're insured only for the rental period.

Damn. I never imagined that not owning a car would prove a liability. I'll keep researching, though. Maybe I'll come up with something better.

Anonymous said...

Rate variances have more to do with the type of vehicle than anything else.

Right now, I pay appx $1300 per year for a 2002 Saturn. Bit of a steal, but that's what happens when you've been with the same insurance co for 10 years.

Really, you won't find a decent quote until you know which model of car you will be purchasing. Once you can give them a year and model, the companies will offer more competitive rates.

Best bets for lower rates:
- car (obviously)
- 4 door (much cheaper to insure than 2doors)
- stay away from 'sport' and 'luxury' models
- stay away from anything turbocharged

Go used. Seriously. This will save you a BUNDLE. New cars always hike the cost significantly, plus you lose over 40% of its value in depreciation in the first year alone - which hurts when you want to sell it later on. By used I do not mean a clunker - look at cars that are two-to-three years old. Maintenance bugs will have been detected and fixed, the price is cheaper, and insurance will be much less.

Visit http://www.autotrader.ca - it is a fabulous tool to look for new and used (mostly used) cars across Canada, and its classifieds are organized by region, year, make/model, price, etc. It's excellent.

laura k said...

Thanks G!

We're definitely buying a new car. I don't worry about things like resale value, I plan on owning it for a long, long time. We've narrowed it down to 2 or 3 choices, so I should be able to get a fairly accurate quote.

The catch is coming in Ontario with only an American driving record, no Canadian driving record. I'll have to talk to insurance people about that.

Thanks for the info, though. It's very useful to have.

laura k said...

I have good news!

(US readers should laugh, thinking of Geico commercials...)

It seems that insurers that operate in both the US and Canada won't hold our US driver's licenses and lack of insurance against us. State Farm of Canada gave a quote significantly lower than anyone else's - around $1850 vs. $3500. I'll be speaking to an agent this week, see what she says.

Anonymous said...

State Farm is decent. A really, really good insurance company. Built on customer loyalty - which down the lines means huge savings. The LB gets his great rates there - no plans to go anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Why a new car, BTW? Much higher price, maintenace bugs that haven't been worked out, and higher insurance all come with the territory. Other than the warranty, I can't figure out why you'd want to go that route. Could save a ton going two years old.

laura k said...

State Farm is decent. A really, really good insurance company.

That's great to hear. I've been emailing with an agent in their Port Credit office. She's been incredibly helpful and forthcoming with information, which goes a long way with me. Plus her quote was the lowest by far. Can't beat that combination.

Why a new car, BTW?

I'm just not into buying things used. Everything has a life span, and anything used is that much closer to the end of its time. It's just a general buying preference. In this case, I'd rather have the warranty and no miles on the odometer.