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Know thy insurance – Metro US

Know thy insurance

Vehicle insurance can be one of the most expensive portions of your yearly budget, and one of the most frustrating to understand. Since it’s mandatory to have insurance in order to drive a vehicle anywhere in Canada, there are a few things we can do to change our situation, both for new car buyers and existing owners. While it may only end up being a savings of $50, in these touchy economic times, that $50 can go a long way.

Andrew Wicken, general manager of InsuranceHotline.com, says that shopping around is the easiest way to try and save money. The services provided at InsuranceHotline.com include the option to compare up to 30 different quotes from various insurance companies across Canada.

“While the coverage itself remains the same, the difference comes from how those companies internally deal with risk and other factors,” Wicken said. Companies could have hugely varying rates depending on which customer type they’re trying to attract and what other promotions they might have running.

Wicken said that the benefit of a program like InsuranceHotline.com is that it’s not owned by anyone affiliated with an insurance company, and the program is free for customers to use. “We make our money on the back end, by giving good, qualified leads to insurance companies who pay to have us pass their quotes along.”

Kanetix.ca, which originated in Canada but recently moved into Britain and United States, also offers a similar service.

David Hackett, of Markham, Ont.-based Buckley Insurance believes that when it comes to factors directly influencing the quote, things like location and vehicle type perhaps are the most obvious ones, although being a better driver certainly helps as well.

“Keep a clean driving record,” he said. “Seeing the number of tickets and charges on your licence is extremely easy for an insurance company to do nowadays, and that usually leads to higher rates.”

Hackett also said that there are certain companies who will give discounts for things like hybrids or other ‘green’ vehicles, in keeping with today’s environmental concerns.

Finally, both Wicken and Hackett offered other money-saving tips such as agreeing to a higher deductible than the ‘standard’ $500 (provided you can afford it should you need to use it), getting an aftermarket theft-deterrent system, and combining both vehicle and house or apartment insurance policies with one company.

Even taking a recognized driver training program like Young Drivers will help lower rates, although Hackett said that the latter only really benefits new drivers from their first to third years behind the wheel.

Can you afford the insurance?

• Before you sign the sales contract for your new vehicle, make sure you’ll be able to afford the insurance!

• Typically, try to decide on three or four different vehicles you’re shopping for first, and use the free services from companies like InsuranceHotline.com or Kanetix.ca to find the least expensive policies and rates. That way, you’ll have a better idea of how much your new vehicle will cost you on a monthly basis.

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