That car insurance renewal: everything you need to know

All drivers know that their car insurance renewal comes with the freedom of the open road. But if it’s such a common occurrence, why do so many Canadians have questions about the process?

It’s usually an automatic process that goes by with neither fuss nor muss, but it pays to keep an eye out for savings opportunities every renewal period.

Not everyone’s situation is the same, and that’s why we’re here to answer your questions.

1. Gather all of your car insurance renewal info

You’ll need a few things to get the ball rolling:

  • Your address and contact information
  • Your insurance policy papers and/or renewal notice
  • Your driver’s license
  • Driver’s license number and date of birth of all drivers on your policy
  • For drivers who drive less than 5,000km per year, you need a photo of your current odometer reading
  • For new payment types, you’ll need a void cheque or pre-authorized debit information
  • Proof of any changes or upgrades to your vehicle
  • Record of tickets, traffic convictions, license suspensions, and accidents

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2. Review your existing policy and deductibles

Once you have all the information, it’s time to refresh your memory about your current policy. Are the deductibles enough? Should you add other types of coverage? Are there new drivers in the house you need added to the policy? All of that is relevant for your renewal.

Beyond the basic mandatory insurance, these are the most common add-ons to consider when reviewing your car insurance renewal:

  • Enhanced or optional accident benefits
  • Collision or upset
  • Comprehensive
  • All perils
  • Specified perils
  • Rented or leased vehicles
  • Loss of use
  • Liability for damage to non-owned automobile
  • Family protection coverage

A sample car insurance renewal form for making changes.

3. Ask yourself: has your situation changed?

Many people stay on auto-pilot for their renewals, and in most cases that’s okay—your situation doesn’t always change each year.

But before you let it happen on its own, at least go over this basic checklist to see if any of these factors apply to you:

  • Do you need to add a new driver to your policy?
  • Do you need to remove a driver from your policy?
  • Does a driver’s status need to be changed? For example, is your son now the primary driver of your old vehicle?
  • Have you started using a personal vehicle for work purposes? Entrepreneurs need to listen to this one!
  • Has your daily commute changed? New jobs usually mean different commutes.
  • Are you driving less?  If you’re retired, then you might be able to downgrade your policy to “leisure.”
  • Did you change or upgrade your car, such as adding a new stereo?
  • Has there been a change in your driving history including speeding tickets?
  • Do you have winter tires but didn’t before? Ontario’s insurers offer a small discount with proof of using them.

All of these reasons could prompt a change in your car insurance policy. For example, if you’ve started your own flower company out of your home and now use your minivan to deliver orders, that needs to be covered appropriately.

An accident while delivering an order would likely not be covered under a personal vehicle policy, so it pays to keep everything up to date during your car insurance renewal!

4. Are you eligible for any discounts?

Good drivers get good rates, especially when they steer clear of claims for extended periods of time. If that sounds like you then don’t pass up these potential discounts while renewing your policy!

Take a moment and consider if any of these possible car insurance discounts apply to you:

  • You travel short distances every year (typically 5,000km and below).
  • You’ve finished a driver training course.
  • There is more than one vehicle in the house that can be covered on the same policy.
  • You insure your home and car with the same company.
  • You’re a mature driver over 55.
  • You’ve been a long-time customer with a good driving record.
  • You haven’t made a claim in a long time.
  • Your car has a theft prevention device.
  • You use a monitoring device or app that provides evidence of good driving habits.

"You'll be done in 3 minutes" beside a black and white hand holding a pocket watch.

5. Review car insurance renewal options with your representative

If you’ve decided you need to change your policy, contact your insurance representative to discuss the options. Our aha insurance representatives will discuss: 

  • Which policy is right for you based on your needs and budget.
  • Whether or not you need additional coverage.
  • If there are any discounts you aren’t aware of that could be applied

They’ll provide you with your new policy details and premiums based on this chat, the information you collected in step one, and any savings that can be applied.

Once you’re happy with your coverage and cost, you’re all set!  Just remember not to leave this until it’s too late! It’s a shame to leave potential savings on the table until the next year.

Remember: accuracy pays in the long run

Some people are tempted to fib here and there on their car insurance renewal to save some money, such as with their addresses or commuting distances. Unfortunately, doing so runs the risk of having a claim denied when you really need it. Even the small things count toward calculating auto insurance rates.

Accidental changes can be backdated in some cases, like forgetting to change your annual commute after getting a new job. Serious misrepresentations—such as listing a false address or a drastically different annual commute—can cause your claims to be denied and your policy to be cancelled.

Some of the most common omissions are:

  • Leaving out accidents or tickets.
  • Lying about the primary driver (e.g. claiming to be the one using it most but it’s actually your teenage daughter).
  • Misrepresenting annual distance driven.
  • Lying about using a vehicle for work.
  • Not using your actual address.

"Car insurance that hurts way, way less" beside toy cacti.

At the end of the day, the amount you’d be saving on your premiums is nowhere near the value of what you may have to pay out of pocket for even a moderate accident.

When is the best time to renew car insurance?

Your car insurance renewal can be done within 44 days of your expiry date, so give yourself a bit of time to follow the steps above and make sure your coverage and premiums are up-to-date. We recommend looking at your policy about 4-6 weeks prior to your renewal date.

If your driving record has not changed and you have made all of your payments, your auto insurance policy will automatically renew. You’ll receive the policy documents about 30-60 days prior in case you’d like to make changes.

What if my car insurance renewal is declined?

The most common reason for renewals to be declined is because of one (or several) at-fault accidents, but it’s uncommon for this to happen. You may have to switch to high-risk auto insurance if your provider offers it or find another insurance provider who does—but you’ll still be able to purchase insurance in Ontario.

If you have any questions or concerns about your car insurance renewal, the aha insurance team is always here to help!

Seriously, what else can you do in 3 minutes?

Boil half an egg?

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