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New to Canada: Getting Auto Insurance

Here's everything you need to know about getting auto insurance as a newcomer.

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by Team Onlia
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Getting auto insurance in Canada is one of a thousand hurdles to cross in the early days of living in your new home. But it’s one of the important ones be-cause so much of what you might do here will involve having the legal right to drive. In Ontario, this requires that you have car insurance.

You’ll need to consider what coverage to choose, how to find a reliable provider and how your premiums will be calculated. 

Getting an Ontario licence when you arrive

If you had a licence back home, you can use it for 60 days before switching to an Ontario licence. The process is relatively easy if you’re coming from a country that has an exchange agreement with Ontario and you’ve been driving for more than two years. If not, you may have to take a written and/or road test among other requirements.

New drivers 

If you’re new to driving, you’ll have to earn a learner’s permit or G1 licence, the first step in Ontario’s graduated licensing system. Even with a G1 licence, you can buy a car though you must have a fully licensed driver with you in the front seat while driving and adhere to other restrictions associated with a G1 licence like having a zero blood-alcohol level and staying off the road between mid-night and 5 a.m.

Before you buy a car

There’s much to consider when choosing your new vehicle.

  • Do you need a minivan to carpool your kids or live alone and prefer something small and fuel efficient? 
  • Do you have the cash to buy a vehicle outright (no interest payments = big bonus) or will you need to finance or lease? 
  • Are you comfortable paying a bit more to buy from a dealer, knowing they abide by certain regulations or are you okay with a private sale?

Note that the type of vehicle you get can affect your insurance rates. See how any make and model will influence your premiums by plugging your wish-list cars into our online quote calculator.

Do you absolutely need auto insurance to drive in Ontario?

Yes. Auto insurance is required by law to drive in Ontario, but you don’t need to purchase every option offered by a provider. Mandatory coverage includes:

  • Third-party Liability 
  • Accident Benefits 
  • Direct Compensation - Property Damage (DCPD)
  • Uninsured Automobile

You’ll be covered for things like damage to your vehicle after a collision that’s not your fault, injuries to you or your passengers, and damage or injuries you’ve caused others.

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Additional coverage

There’s additional coverage you can add to your policy for extra protection — like Comprehensive Insurance, which covers the cost of your car if it’s stolen, and Family Protection, which increases the amount you get if you or a family member is hurt in a collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Such coverage will result in higher premiums but give you peace of mind.

How to get auto insurance in Ontario

Ontario offers three ways to get auto insurance: you can buy from a broker who represents several insurance companies, from an agent who sells for one specific company or purchase directly from an insurance company — which is what you can do with Onlia.

Regardless of the method you choose, shopping around is key to getting the best rate. Call a few providers, visit several bricks-and-mortar offices or save time by shopping online.

The benefits of directly purchasing online insurance

Going online with Onlia Insurance, you plug in your info, receive a quote and sign up in minutes.

Online insurance also gives you full control over your coverage:

  • Make changes at any time, from anywhere.
  • Add or remove coverages, increase or decrease your deductible or adjust variables that can reduce your premium.
  • Provide new information like the purchase of winter tires and see instant savings.

Onlia is not a broker or agent. It’s an insurance company that sells directly to the public. Instead of relying on an intermediary, you are 100% in charge.

When to work with an insurance broker

If you want to have a contact person that you can relay any updates and in-formation to, to mange your policy for you, a broker can help you with that. But look out for ghost brokers — fraudulent dealers who sell non-existent or inaccurate insurance policies at impossibly low prices.

In car insurance, like everywhere else, what’s too good to be true probably is. Do your research to make sure they’re legit.

How your premium is calculated

Once you get a few quotes you’ll see that rates vary from one company to the next. Factors that go into calculating your price include:

  • Where you live 
  • The type of car you drive 
  • The coverage you choose 
  • Your driving history 

How can your driving history affect your insurance premiums when you’ve never driven in Canada? Some insurance providers take your driving experience outside the country into consideration. As long as Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) recognizes your foreign driving record, Onlia accepts those years when calculating your fees.

Get car insurance and get driving

Ontario’s beauty is best seen from the open road. You can have the car insurance you need to get going as soon as tomorrow.

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