Insuring your home and car

My insurance series in the Sunday Star has moved closer to home. I’m focusing on the premiums you pay to insure your residence and belongings, the car you drive and the people you may come into contact with after an accident.

I find it interesting that people pay premiums month after month, but don’t think about updating the information on their policies. And many don’t think about shopping around for lower rates at renewal time.

Has anything changed in your life that your insurer should know about? If you don’t inform the company about major changes — for example, that you’re no longer driving your car for work — you could be missing out on lower rates. The onus is on you to say if there’s something different that could affect the risk level the insurer agreed to at the start of your relationship.

As for shopping around, it’s a lot of work. You have to dig up your documents, find out the exact coverage you have and compare the cost with the offerings from other companies. But the results can be worthwhile, as long as you don’t switch too often and you’re not leaving behind valuable benefits (such as the forgiveness for first claims).

Toronto Star readers may have noticed many recent full-page ads for Insurance Hotline, a service that compares car insurance rates, run by Lee Romanov (who ran for Toronto Mayor last time around). How can she afford to pay for these ads? Simple. Her company was purchased by the Star earlier this year.

When you use Insurance Hotline, you have to supply information about your claims history (how many at-fault accidents, licence suspensions, tickets and insurance cancellations for non-payment). You also have to specify the deductibles you want for collision and comprehensive coverage. Then, you get three quotes and contact information for brokers or agents who can write a policy for you. Try it and see if you’re paying too much.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

24 thoughts on “Insuring your home and car”

  1. Hi Ellen,

    I mentioned insurance premiums a few weeks ago on my blog, and my readers told me that I was paying too much. Most of them suggested Meloche Monnex, and when I got a quote from them they were around 20% cheaper than my current insurance. The only caveat of MM is that they require a professional designation.


  2. Thanks for clearing up a major mystery for me. I couldn’t understand how Lee Romanov went from cheap web ads to full pages in the Star. It’s hard to believe they would be cost effective if you were paying the full rate.
    It’s an odd bit of diversification for the Star.

  3. My daughter’s auto was recently stolen and has not yet been recovered. Her adjuster has told her she will have to pay half of her deductible if the car is not recovered.

    I was always under the impression that in either a theft of automobile or fire, the deductible was automatically waived (under a personal auto policy). Any comments?

  4. I was solicited to buy insurance by TD Home and Auto (Meloche Monnex/ Primmum) in 2002. Had a large claim in 2004 due to a city fire hydrant and city water main.

    Claim was a nightmare and I was forced to litigate. At this point, I still haven’t had an explanation why they will not pay.

    As a consumer, I strongly advise readers to stay away from this company and would recommend having a broker. They may offer great coverage, but claims experience has been living hell. I deeply regret switching from a broker to TD.

  5. My cars are getting older, their value depreciates day by day. Despite this and my clean record, the insurance renewal rate shows a 17% increase for the year to come.

    When I required explanations, I was told that, based on my cars’ models and on the level of incidents produced by those marks during last year, the insurance company adjusted the rates to recover its losses.

    Now, as long as an auto insurance company pay claims on the basis of Actual Cash Value, why aren’t they using the same way for establishing new insurance rates (Actual Cash Value) as well?

    It is logical, fair and normal to develop a policy coverage based on the records and cars’ age. That’s the way insurance companies are operating in Germany and in many other civilized countries…. and this is the right way as well….

    On the other hand, the losses that Ontario insurance companies are using as arguments refer to PROFIT diminutions and no other type of losses. Because they don’t make the profit they want, they increase our rates…that’s the strategy. They steal money out of our pockets!

    The way these companies are treating us, the way they are using us for their good, is totally unacceptable. They are ripping us off and nobody does anything against it.

    If an individual has a claim in the past and wants to register within a new company (see ING, Grey Power and many others), he is not accepted as a client.

    In other words, they want somebody totally clean who has to pay for them for nothing for his entire life. They don’t want to assume any risk, they only want to be supported for free and forever. That’s the way they understand to conduct business in this field.

    Their policy and their way of thinking is similar to those of charity organizations. If they pay you for a claim, they will recover it by increasing your and other clients’ rates way over the level of recoveries.

    Since I registered with TD (3 years ago), although my goods are losing their values, I’m constantly chargesd more and more, year by year.

    The reps’ explanations are outrageous. They are an insult to my mental condition It is a proof of lack of respect for me and for the people whom these companies have to thank for their existence. How log do we have to accept that for?

    Having said all that, I honestly believe that the government has to interfere here because this behaviour has reached an inadmissible point. There has to be an intervention for people’s protection against the abuse and pure exploitation that happens in our modern society today.

    When my rates increase with each renewal while the cars are losing the intrinsic values and/or when the increases are based on the number of accidents produced by other people, then the government has to step in.

    Is it not obvious that we are victims of the insurance companies and that this system is ill and needs surgery?

    The middle class, the base of any society, have to pay for everything else beside the huge taxes; for everything that the upper class decides to pay for: gas price increase, grocery price increase, general goods price increase and so on.

    When on top of all that, the insurance companies have neither reserves nor shame to rip us off, why is the government not doing anything? Do we think over the repercussions of such policies?

    People soon won’t be able to drive cars, buy cars, buy houses. They will only remain focused on procuring food and clothes. The number of unemployed people will rise and the claims for social and material support, as well.

    That’s where we will end up if we continue to be abused by insurance, gas and goods prices…

    It is unacceptable for our government to say that it doesn’t want to mix up into private businesses. We, people whom the government exists for and whom it represents, need its involvement, now. That’s why we elected its reps…. to watch that our values are properly preserved. It has to watch and keep the middle class alive, strong and healthy.

    Otherwise, its reason for existence becomes nonsense. I’m (partially) surprised that our politicians don’t foresee the consequences of letting the middle class struggle for its existence and reducing its size day by day due to job losses, bankruptcies etc…

    What now remains for us? To run away from Canada and look for another country to move into and live a decent life?

  6. TD Meloche-Monnex Home Insurance sounds great on paper, but watch out, this company is not fair in its client treatment.

    We have had our house insurance with them for 30 years. We’re regular payers and on time, no issues. Had one claim and some inquiries recently. The inquiries count as claims and the company punishes for this.

    They refused to renew our policy due to too many claims, although there really were not many claims, just inquiries.

    The company takes your money, but gives you little back, and punishes you if you call or inquire about entitlement. Cannot recommend this company.

  7. I second the comments about TD Meloche-Monnex! I just had a call this evening about our home insurance and they told us that we didn’t qualify for the “Platinum” level as we’d had 2 claims. I said “what claims??” and she told me that the call I’d made in April 2008 to make sure that I understood our policy about water damage in our basement due to groundwater (which I believed was NOT covered) counted as a claim! I’m going to fight this – I have no intention of letting them get away with this. In fact I TOLD them at the time that I was NOT filing a claim. And then she told me that there was a claim on “Jan. 1, 2007” – which is entirely bogus. We weren’t insured with Monnex at the time – we were living in the US, and we had no claims whatsoever on our home insurance there, and certainly not on New Year’s Day a month before we sold that house. She’ll have to look that one up on the microfiche she said – it would take 24 hours at least. Needless to say, I’ve no intention of staying with Monnex – especially as it appears that we can get cheaper insurance coverage through the IEEE, who are now offering insurance to members in Canada as of last fall. However, I do want to clear this up before we switch, as I don’t want it impacting our new insurance premiums. If I don’t get satisfaction from the claims department at Monnex, I will be asking to speak to their ombudsman, and failing that, will go to the Insurance Bureau. There really ought to be tighter legislation that prohibits insurance companies from tagging simple inquiries as “claims” – you should be able to ask a simple question about your insurance coverage! This is completely outrageous.

  8. Good article Ellen. Car insurance is one of the major and important things which we all need to pay it regularly.

    There is insurance for cars, where it give the whole information about its policies/schemes. The temporary car insurance is an insurance coverage for single day or a brief period and it is useful in both planned occasions, as well as emergencies.

    It safeguards the”no-claims bonus” element for annual policy. It also offers the monthly car insurance which has multiple benefits like if you pay much money for deductibles, then monthly premiums will be lesser, the premium reduced if the power engine does not allow its driver to speed and possess higher fuel efficiency, if there is no history of accidents or accidents are fewer then it will reduce the insurance premiums etc.

    This insurance is very easy to apply for and you can get the quotes online and can be compared with other insurance company,

  9. I want to add that TD Insurance refused to renew our policy because we made one claim. TD’s policy appears to be “Use it and Lose it”.

    CBC Marketplace aired a program on how TD fights paying mortgage insurance claims. TD has also been in the press for suing a 12 year old babysitter who saved two children from a fire, saying the 12 year old failed to have a licence to babysit.

    They are creeps who avoid paying wth any dirty tactic. People should boycott TD.

  10. Our car was hit while in a parking lot. We obtained all info: the other driver admitted fault, police reports were filed, and I informed TD Meloche Monnex of our misfortune.

    For NINE days now I’ve been trying to get their adjuster to phone me. Today I phoned, spoke with someone else, and they had all the info wrong.

    I will be driving my car with a sign on it saying, “Insured by TD Meloche Monnex”. The state of my vehicle will speak for itself.

  11. Hi,
    My mother who has physical disabilities and is at home at all times, takes care of the bills and basically all the paper works in the house. I work and pay and give her the money and she does the rest.
    I just found out that my home insurance was cancelled about 2 years ago, and my mother has been trying to find another insurance company willing to insure my property. However, every place she has called have been asking for the full payment of the annual premium at once; or just simply refusing her.
    She was afraid to tell me, while trying to solve this problem.
    Now that I found out about this issue, I am very worried. How can I obtain insurance at this stage? I am willing to pay for the full balance, even if I have to pay double the norm. I just need to get my house insured.
    Please help me.

  12. I second Dan’s experience with TD MM. While their rates are the best, if you don’t have collision on your policy, they will drag their heels and refuse to act promptly.

    Partially my fault and partially theirs, I wasn’t aware I didn’t have collision. It has almost been two weeks and an appraiser has not taken a look at the vehicle involved in the accident.

    A police report places 100 percent of the blame on the other party, but they refuse to look at the police report, telling me it could take months to obtain (the police say this is ridiculous).

    Other claims were acted upon promptly, but this one is different.

    If you want cheap rates and never plan on having a claim, this company is ideal. But if you want the protection they promise, forget it.

  13. My complaint is about how insurance companies are auto-renewing people’s policies at higher rates without explicit consent.

    In my case, my coverage is pre-paid for the year.

    Two weeks after my coverage elapsed I was contacted on the phone and they were asking for payment. The rate they quoted was substantially higher than before.

    I told them I did not want to renew at this time, I was going to look around and I would call them back if I wanted to renew with them.

    I decided not to renew and didn’t call back.

    My expectation was that the coverage had elapsed.

    However, they continued coverage and sent me a bill – which was pro-rated well past even the date of the phone call.

    I called them at the earliest opportunity and told them that I wasn’t renewing with them.

    However, they were claiming that I was already renewed – even though they acknowledged that I said on the phone that I was “looking around”.

    However, they conveniently didn’t write down in the notes that I said, I didn’t want to renew at this time and I would call back if I wanted to renew.

    Instead they wrote down, “customer is looking around and will call back with payment”.

    After I had some heated words with them, instead of stopping the coverage.

    They first threatened me by saying that if I don’t pay, they will harm my reputation and make it difficult for me to get coverage in the future.

    Then they sent me a bill for the whole year.

    They said that if I wanted to cancel, I would pay a substantial early cancellation fee.

    This is getting ridiculous to the point that I am now contacting consumer protection agencies and the Ontario government because I know this is happening to other people – and it’s unacceptable.

    Yes, it is TD MM that is the culprit.

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