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.