Even though your car insurance is usually renewed without contacting your insurer, renewal time is ideal for ensuring that your information is up to date, your coverage still meets your needs and you’re paying the right price. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Groupement des assureurs automobiles (GAA), advise you to re-evaluate your needs every time you renew. Here are 8 changes that should be reported to your insurer before renewing your car insurance.
- Change of address
Informing your insurer of a change of address should be second nature. However, in some circumstances you may incorrectly believe it’s not necessary or you may forget to do it. For example, if one of your kids lives somewhere other than your residence during the school year, his or her address must be indicated on the car insurance policy, even if he or she comes home on weekends or at the end of the school year.
The place of residence for each driver and where the vehicle is used is essential information for establishing the right premium rate.
- Change of employment or employer
Have you been promoted or decided to take on new challenges within the same company? Did you change employers?
Let your insurer know so that it can update your file. Your premium could be adjusted if you have changed job category. In addition, your new job may change your vehicle usage habits. (See point 3 about this subject.)
Did you recently join a professional association? You may be eligible for reductions if your insurer partners with this association.
- Changes to vehicle use
Tell your insurer if your driving habits change. Your premium may be adjusted based on the annual mileage of your vehicle. Here are some examples of changes you need report:
- Changes to the distances travelled or use of the car to drive to work (e.g. use of public transportation, car pooling, change in workplace location, retirement).
- New ways of using your vehicle (e.g. using your car for business purposes, Uber fares, paid transportation of passengers or rental on a car sharing platform).
- Usage outside Quebec: If you plan to cross provincial borders with your vehicle, it’s advisable to notify your insurer to be adequately covered in the event of an accident. Some insurers adjust their premium rates when vehicles are used outside Quebec, although others such as La Capitale don’t add any fees.
At the same time, you should check if it would be a good idea to increase your legal liability limit.
- Addition or withdrawal of drivers
Are new drivers, such as your teenager or your spouse, using your vehicle on a regular basis, or have they stopped using it? You should declare these changes to be adequately covered when they take the wheel. Since each driver profile (age, gender, driving record, etc.) represents a different risk, this could affect your insurance premium.
Note, however, that you don’t need to notify your insurer if you lend your car on an exceptional basis to a friend or family member.
- Modified vehicle
You should notify your insurer when when you install or remove any equipment for upgrading the vehicle’s performance or increasing its market value. Doing so ensures that the additional equipment is covered in the event of a claim.
You should also report if you install an anti-theft or tracking system, since you may be entitled to a premium reduction.
- Storing or putting your vehicle back on the road
- Licence suspension or traffic violation
If you, or one of the vehicle’s drivers, have your licence suspended or are found guilty of committing a traffic violation, you must inform your insurer. If you don’t, your insurer may reduce the amount of your indemnity in the event of a claim.
- Short-term vehicle rental
If you often rent vehicles on a short-term basis, the IBC and the GAA recommend that you check with your insurer to find out if adding Q.E.F. No. 27 (Civil liability resulting from damage caused to vehicles of which the named insured is not the owner) would be advantageous for you. This endorsement extends the insurance coverage included in your contract to rental vehicles and is often less expensive than paying for the coverage available from car rental agencies.
Declaring changes is to your advantage
It may be tempting not to declare a particular change, especially if it’s likely to raise the premium amount. But it would be the wrong call because your insurer could reduce the indemnity amount or flat out deny your claim, even if the loss has nothing to do with the change you failed to mention.
If you have any doubts, ask your damage insurance agent!