how much does car insurance cost in canada

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost in Canada?

The question, “How much does car insurance cost in Canada?” is a loaded one. That’s because there is a laundry list of factors contributing to how much you will pay in auto insurance premiums.

Sometimes it feels like every time the wind blows, the cost of car insurance goes up, and that isn’t that far from the truth because, unfortunately, higher premiums are on the rise.

Car insurance may be a necessary evil, as every car owner in Canada must cover their liability during an accident and other potential mishaps. There’s a lot to parse when it comes to it, so let’s get started.

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How much is car insurance?

Of all the factors that affect the cost of car insurance, where you live is the biggest determinant. There’s no one average cost across Canada, but there is an average cost for every province.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), British Columbia leads the way with the most expensive annual average at $1,832, followed by Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, at $1,528. In third comes Alberta at $1,316, followed by Saskatchewan at $1,235, Newfoundland and Labrador at $1,168, Manitoba at $1,140, Nova Scotia at $891, New Brunswick at $867, PEI at $816, and finally, the cheapest, Quebec, at $717.

Brunswick at $867, PEI at $816, and finally, the cheapest, Quebec, at $717.

There’s a wide variance there, and you can expect a similarly wide margin when it comes to monthly premiums. Canadians can expect to pay between $125 to $160 on average.

How does car insurance work?

The way car insurance works for you depends largely on where you live. However, generally speaking, you, the driver, pay a monthly cost called a premium.

In exchange, you receive coverage should you be found liable during an accident for any expenses related to the other driver’s injuries or death and for any expenses damage to their car, its replacement and/or damage to other property involved in the accident. For example, if you hit someone’s mailbox or drove into their house.

Since you receive insurance coverage, the money for these expenses comes from the insurance policy amount and not your personal income.

After your insurance pays for expenses related to an accident, you can expect your insurance premiums to go up because you are considered an increased risk to the insurance company providing the policy. There’s no doubt you will pay more the next time you’re on the road.

Conversely, if you’ve never been in an accident and have a squeaky-clean driving record, you can expect to potentially pay less in premiums than other drivers who may have a spottier track record.

Car in woods

How does car insurance differ from province to province?

The biggest factor affecting costs in the way car insurance differs between provinces is how it’s administered.

In British Columbia, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, drivers get their car insurance from a public crown corporation owned by the provincial government.

The idea of this is to keep premiums fair and regulated while giving motorists high-quality coverage, but whether they accomplish this goal is debatable. Most of these corporations are not-for-profit. In all other provinces, car insurance remains private, with many options for insurance providers.

Quebec is a bit of a hybrid of both the public and private system, with the provincial government providing insurance policies that cover bodily injury and death, while insurance for damage to the car and property is an extra policy sold privately.

As the provinces differ on auto insurance regulation, they also differ on what they need each driver to have as part of their mandatory coverage.

Here are what each province requires drivers for and the pesky nuances that separate their auto insurance systems:

British Columbia

  • Third-Party Liability Coverage
  • Accident Benefits
  • Uninsured Automobile Protection
  • Hit and Run
  • Inverse Liability Protection

Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan, drivers can opt-out of no-fault personal injury coverage and instead purchase an at-fault (a.k.a. tort) policy where, like Alberta, not as many expenses are covered. However, you can take the other driver to court for more compensation.

  • Property Damage
  • Personal Injury
  • Third-Party Liability

Ontario

Though car insurance in Ontario is private, the province sets a standard insurance policy that all auto insurance companies must provide. It includes liability, accident benefits, and property damage.

  • Third-Party Liability
  • Property Damage
  • Accident Benefits
  • Uninsured Automobile Protection

Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in Canada where medical, funeral, disability, and death benefits are not mandatory but optional for drivers.

  • Third-Party Liability
  • Uninsured Automobile Protection

PEI

  • Third-Party Liability
  • Accident Benefits
  • Uninsured Automobile Protection
  • Property Damage

Alberta

Alberta operates on a tort-based auto insurance system where drivers are only compensated a minimum amount by their insurance company and must pursue the other driver’s insurance company for more compensation.

  • Third-Party Liability
  • Accident Benefits

Manitoba

  • Comprehensive Collision Coverage
  • Third-Party Liability
  • Personal Injury

Quebec

In Quebec, auto insurance is “no-fault,” which means you’re covered regardless of whether you caused the accident.

  • Civil Liability
  • Accident Benefits
  • Personal Injury
  • Property Damage

New Brunswick

New Brunswick is the only province where new drivers get a discount on their new insurance, called “The First Chance Discount.”

The break lasts for the first six years of driving if they maintain a clean driving record.

  • Civil Liability
  • Accident Benefits
  • Personal Injury
  • Property Damage

Nova Scotia

  • Third-Party Liability
  • Accident Benefits
  • Uninsured Automobile Protection
  • Property Damage

What Impacts Auto Insurance Rates?

Many factors can influence whether your car insurance premium goes up or down, and they all have to do with risk.

The higher the risk, the more likely you are to get in an accident or have your car damaged or stolen, and the more likely the insurance company will have to pay out a claim on your behalf.

Conversely, if you do things to decrease the likelihood of getting in an accident, the insurance company is likely to offer you a discount on your rate.

The biggest factor that can influence your rates, beyond smaller factors, such as living in a rural or urban area, an area with high or low crime, or whether your car comes with an anti-theft device, is your driving history.

If you’ve been in accidents before, have a lot of recent speeding tickets, or arrests for DUI, these factors will drive up your premiums.

If you haven’t been driving long or are a brand-new driver, this can also drive up your auto insurance costs.

These aren’t the only factors, however. Some are difficult to discern, but many auto insurance providers offer online surveys where they ask about your driving habits, which eventually narrow into a car insurance calculator that can help you determine what your rate is likely to be.

You can also call any auto insurance company, and they’d be happy to ask you similar questions and provide you with an auto insurance quote.

What does car insurance cover?

As you’ve seen above, car insurance coverage varies significantly between provinces.

For example, Quebec includes civil liability as part of mandatory coverage. Newfoundland & Labrador is the only province where the funeral, disability, and death benefits are optional coverage.

Generally, however, most provinces cover the following as part of mandatory auto insurance:

Property Damage

Expenses related to damage to property outside of and including the vehicle.

Uninsured Driver Protection

Coverage in case the driver you’re in an accident with is uninsured. This protection is the part of the policy that takes care of their expenses.

Third-Party Liability

The part of the policy that protects you if you are sued and found liable for causing injury or property damage during an accident.

Personal Injury

Expenses related to a personal injury you caused during an accident, including hospital stays, rehabilitation, medication, physio, and more.

Accident Benefits

These include compensation to family members if someone dies, funeral expenses, compensation for loss of income if a person cannot work due to their injuries, medical and rehab expenses not covered by another medical plan.

Insurance plans may also include an alternate caregiver if someone is no longer able to care for their family, replacement costs for things lost or damaged during the accident, compensation if a person can’t lead a normal life and can’t qualify for the caregiver benefit, or income replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to insurers, car insurance is more expensive in Ontario for two reasons: fraud and the cost of settling claims are high risk.

Ontario drivers may think that car insurance is expensive for different reasons. If you actually look into the most common reasons drivers give, like insurance companies are gouging customers, or that Ontario highways are more congested and have more new drivers contributing to more accidents, independent research shows these reasons are myths.

For the most part, no. You are not required to report car insurance compensation as income, so settlements aren’t considered taxable in general.

However, certain circumstances are taxable. If you are receiving money for lost wages, those funds are taxable because they replace the income you would have reported anyway.

Compensation for pain and suffering is not taxable if the damage is only physical, but those funds are also taxable if you suffered mental distress.

Yes, you can. If you are involved in an at-fault accident while driving someone else’s car, then the driver who owns the car’s insurance policy will cover you.

The insurance provider can add the driver to the driver’s insurance policy through co-titling or as an additional but occasional driver if you are legally allowed to drive the car.

The driver permits the insurance company to add you. The insurance company will ask about your driving history, and the driver’s auto insurance costs may go up by having an additional driver on their policy.

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