Auto insurance companies use your driving record and insurance history to rate and underwrite your policy. So, in addition to your location and how often you use your vehicle, the information found in these two reports directly impacts how much you’ll pay for your coverage and who will insure you.
Understanding how driving records and insurance reports are used can help you determine your best insurance coverage options and understand how your premium was calculated.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do insurance companies check driving records?
Insurance companies regularly pull two types of records when underwriting and rating an auto insurance policy: A driving record or driving abstract and an insurance history report.
Driving record or abstract
A driver record, known as a driving abstract in Alberta, is a provincial government-issued document that presents all traffic violations for which you have been convicted over a period of time. These documents include all traffic act and criminal code of Canada convictions, such as:
- Speeding fines
- Improper passing
- Failure to stop at a sign
- Careless and reckless driving
- Driving under the influence
- Stunt driving
- And dozens more infractions as outlined in our Ultimate list of Ontario traffic tickets, fines and demerit points article.
A typical report will also include driver identification details such as:
- Driver name
- Driver’s license number
- Date of birth
- License class (for example, G1, G2, G & M)
- Expiry date
- Status (licensed, unlicensed, suspended)
- Earliest license date available in the database
- Any conditions or license endorsements, such as the need to wear glasses or that you can drive a vehicle with air brakes.
The report will also include the number of demerit points on your record.
While the most common driving report or abstract covers the past three years, insurers can also pull five-year and ten-year records.
You can order a copy of your Ontario driving record by visiting the Ministry of Transportation website. In Alberta, you can visit the Driving & Transportation website. We have also written about How to check your driving record if you want to learn more about the different types of reports available.
Insurance history report
In Canada, insurance companies receive insurance history reports from a private company, CGI, which collects data from the majority of the country’s insurance carriers and creates a Consumer AutoPlus report for each individual named on an insurance policy.
This report is similar to a credit report in that it details your current policy and coverage history. In addition, the information includes any auto insurance claims you have made over the years. The report will also indicate if a claim has been refused due to fraud. CGI has posted a sample Consumer AutoPlus report on their website so you can see the type of information included.
The same company also delivers a version of the report for home insurance policies, and claims called a Consumer HITS report.
How often do insurance companies check driving records and insurance history in Ontario?
Insurance companies rely on driving records, abstracts, and insurance history reports to rate and underwrite an auto policy properly. These reports come as a cost to the insurance company. Therefore each company determines how often they request this information from various sources.
New policies – The insurer will pull a driving record/abstract and an insurance history report for almost every new auto insurance policy. This is to ensure the information submitted on an auto insurance application is accurate, that all drivers are properly licensed and to identify those with a driving history that requires a closer look.
It should be pointed out that an adverse history does not exclude someone from purchasing insurance in either province. However, it may place them in a high-risk category that requires a specialized insurance solution.
Renewals – How often an insurance company pulls a driver record or abstract upon renewal is less consistent between companies and even within an organization. Typically, a company will only request a new driving record every two to three years. However, there may be exceptions for drivers with concerning information on their driving record when they purchased a policy. In these cases, the underwriter may want to confirm that the driver’s situation is improving and not worsening. An underwriter or adjuster may also order a new driving record following a claim to verify if there was an associated Highway Act violation.
How far back do car insurance companies look at driving records and insurance history in Ontario?
When it comes to driving record information, most Ontario and Alberta insurance companies will only review the past three years of history for rating and underwriting purposes.
However, regarding claims history, the time periods vary substantially between companies. For example, some companies will only use the past three years of at-fault claims history to rate a policy. However, others prefer to use a five-year review. Some companies will check for claims activity going back ten years when applying a claims-free discount to your policy. With a long tail that can last ten years, drivers need to be aware that even minor at-fault claims can come back to haunt you far into the future and drive accordingly.
Why your driver’s license history matters to car insurance companies
Insurance companies rate an insurance policy based on the risk they accept when providing insurance coverage. Decades of accidents and claims statistics clearly demonstrate that drivers with traffic violations on their record are much more likely to experience an accident than those who don’t. The more offences you are convicted of, the more likely you will experience an accident.
Similarly, drivers who have experienced multiple at-fault claims are more likely to experience another. In fact, if someone has experienced three at-fault claims in the past three years, the odds of them having a fourth within the next year is about 75%.
With that data in hand, insurers use it to ensure that people at a higher risk pay more than those at a lower risk.
Can you clear your driving record and insurance history in Ontario?
As stated above, the government can supply your driving record in three-year, five-year and ten-year reports. While a conviction will not disappear from your report until after ten years have passed, it is unlikely your insurer will use information that exceeds three years.
Your driving record is pulled directly from court records by the Ministry of Transportation, and errors are exceedingly rare. However, if you believe there is an error on your record, contact the Ministry of Transportation for information on how to file a correction order with the appropriate court in your province.
Your driving record and insurance history are essential in determining how your insurance premium will be calculated and underwritten. To maintain the lowest premium possible, be sure to obey the rules of the road and drive safely.