Does commuting increase car insurance?

12 minute read Published on Jun 26, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Rush hour traffic congestion and a focus on tail brake light

There are a multitude of factors that influence the cost of car insurance in Ontario, and you may be wondering whether your daily commute is one of them. In this article, we will explore how the frequency with which you drive can impact your auto insurance rates and how BrokerLink can help qualifying customers find low mileage car insurance.

Daily commute and car insurance

The reality is that the distance you drive for your daily commute can impact your car insurance premium in Canada. Why? Insurance companies will take into account the amount of time you spend on the road and the distance you drive each day, and your commute is part of this.

If your daily commute is long, your insurance premium might be higher simply because you spend more time behind the wheel, and thus your chances of getting into an accident are higher. Given how a car accident affects car insurance rates, it’s no surprise that a long daily commute could influence your premium in this way. Oppositely, if you have a short daily commute or you choose to get to work using other modes of transit, such as public transportation or cycling, you will likely benefit from cheaper insurance rates.

When meeting with an insurance broker or agent, make sure that you accurately describe the details of your daily commute. Lying about the length of your commute is an example of insurance fraud and could lead to your claim being rejected or your insurance company cancelling your policy down the road.

Pleasure use and daily commute drivers

Insurance companies in Canada divide the kind of driving that policyholders do into two main categories: pleasure use and commute use. Pleasure use is any type of driving done for personal reasons. This may consist of driving to the grocery store or a friend’s home. Pleasure use driving is typically considered to be less risky from the perspective of an insurance company because it may be done at less busy times in lower traffic areas. It can also be done leisurely rather than in a rush to get to your destination while attempting to avoid rush hour traffic. Meanwhile, commute driving is done for work or school. In other words, your daily commute from your home to your office or your home to your university campus would constitute commute driving.

Insurance companies consider commute driving to be riskier as it often involves driving at higher speeds, at busier times, in high-traffic areas, and maybe also for longer distances. The category that you fall into as a driver can influence your auto insurance rates. In most cases, drivers fall into both categories and therefore how much time they spend driving for pleasure versus their daily commute will be considered. Generally speaking, the more time you spend commuting, especially if you have a long commute, the higher your insurance rates may be. Oppositely, if you mainly drive your car for pleasure, your rates are likely to be lower.

How commuting habits can affect car insurance rates

All kinds of factors determine car insurance rates in Canada, and your daily commute is one of them. Your daily commute contributes to how frequently you drive and the purposes for which you drive, which will both be factored in by an insurance agent when they are calculating your premium. The general rule of thumb is that the more time you spend on the road, the more your auto insurance policy will cost. Since one of the most common reasons drivers spend time on the road is to commute to work or school, one’s daily commute matters. Keep in mind that if you have a short daily commute, your insurance rates might be lower.

Further, if you choose to take another mode of transportation on your commute instead of driving, such as walking, cycling, or taking public transportation, your annual mileage might be so low that you qualify for an occasional driver car insurance policy. Occasional driver or low mileage car insurance plans are usually heavily discounted since they take into account the fact that your odds of getting into an accident and needing to file a claim are much lower. Learn more about how to calculate mileage to see if you qualify for an occasional driver discount by contacting BrokerLink.

If your commuting habits change, whether they increase because you started a new job and the office is located farther away from your home or they decrease because you start working from home part-time or taking public transit to work, make sure to notify your insurance company. In fact, if your driving habits change in any way, it is important to inform your insurer. If they decrease or become safer, you could save money on car insurance. Examples of driving habits that you should speak with your insurer about should they change are as follows:

  • If you increase or decrease the amount of time you spend on the road
  • If your daily commute changes, whether the route, distance, or both change
  • If you start driving your vehicle for business reasons in addition to personal reasons
  • If you start driving on highways or at night
  • If you need to add or remove a driver to your auto insurance policy
  • If you need to add or remove a vehicle from your auto insurance policy

Tips to save money on car insurance no matter your daily commute

Want to save money on car insurance? The BrokerLink team has put together the following list of tips that can help any driver in Canada keep auto insurance costs down, no matter the length of your daily commute:

Choose a safe car

Buying a car with a high safety rating is an effective way of saving money on car insurance. Insurance companies reward safety, so if your car has all kinds of safety features, odds are you will benefit from lower insurance premiums.

Consider alternative modes of transportation

If you want to qualify for an occasional driver discount or simply reduce how much you drive to save money on car insurance, consider alternative modes of transportation. Popular alternatives include carpooling, taking public transit, walking, or cycling.

Look into alumni and employment discounts

There are all kinds of insurance discounts out there, including alumni and employee discounts. When you contact an insurance broker, make sure to let them know what university you graduated from, if applicable, and where you work. They can then research whether any insurance companies in Canada offer car insurance discounts based on your alumni or employment status.

Increase your credit score

Having a high credit score comes with many perks, one of which might be an auto insurance discount. Some insurance companies in Canada offer reduced rates to drivers with stellar credit scores. The minimum credit score you must have to qualify varies, so be sure to ask a broker in advance.

Don’t buy more car insurance coverage than you need

When purchasing car insurance, make sure that you choose your coverage wisely. It can be tempting to purchase every type of coverage under the sun for the most protection, like accident forgiveness or insurance cover for towing, but this will cost you. Although some vehicles might warrant extra coverage or higher coverage limits, especially new or expensive vehicles, others won’t. For example, drivers of older or less expensive cars may find that comprehensive and collision coverage are not necessary. That said, it’s important to note that if you lease or finance your vehicle, you might be contractually required to purchase comprehensive or collision coverage.

Raise your deductible

One surefire way to cut car insurance costs is to increase your policy deductible. Choose a higher deductible from the onset or, when your policy is up for renewal, make the switch from a lower to a higher deductible. By taking on this extra financial responsibility, the insurance company will instantly reduce your premium.

Inquire about hidden fees that come with payment plans

You might think that choosing to pay for your car insurance plan monthly will come out to the same amount as if you pay it yearly, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Some insurers will tack on administrative or transaction fees to each payment made, which means that paying for your plan yearly might actually be cheaper. Make sure to enquire about these fees before selecting a payment schedule for your car insurance policy.

Install winter tires on your vehicle

Installing winter tires on your car could lead to major savings. Many insurers offer a winter tire discount to drivers who switch their summer or all-season tires to snow tires during the winter months. Why? Doing so can reduce how likely you are to get into an accident. Learn more about common car accidents by getting in touch with BrokerLink. You can also contact an insurance broker to learn more about how to qualify for a winter tire discount.

Purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle

If you’re in the market for a new car, consider buying a hybrid or electric vehicle and you could save money on car insurance. Buying an eco-friendly vehicle comes with many perks, from lowering your carbon footprint to qualifying for a reduced car insurance rate.

Sign up for a driver’s education course

Enrolling in a driver’s education course can make you eligible for a car insurance discount in Canada. Insurance companies recognize that learning from a professional makes you a safer and more responsible driver, which in turn, leads to lower rates.

Add an anti-theft device to your vehicle

One final tip for saving money on car insurance in Canada is to install an anti-theft, or other type of security system, in your vehicle. These devices can significantly reduce the odds of your vehicle being stolen, which in turn, can make you eligible for an auto insurance discount.

Contact BrokerLink to find out more about how your daily commute affects car insurance

If you want more information on how factors like your daily commute can impact how much you pay for car insurance, get in touch with BrokerLink. A licenced BrokerLink insurance advisor can answer any questions you have, including the ways in which using your car to commute can impact your rates. They can also provide insight into the other factors that insurance companies use to determine premiums and a free car insurance quote to give you an idea of how much your policy will cost. As auto insurance experts, your BrokerLink insurance broker can even help you find a new policy, renew an existing one, file a claim with your insurer, update your car insurance address, explain how no-fault insurance works, walk you through the process of reporting a car accident, or add a new driver to your policy. We are here for all your car insurance needs. Contact BrokerLink to learn more about our auto insurance services.

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FAQs on daily commute and car insurance

If I have a shorter daily commute, will I qualify for a discount on car insurance?

Some insurance companies in Canada offer car insurance discounts to drivers who have shorter daily commutes or who commute less frequently due to other factors like working from home or using other modes of transportation to get to work.

Will an insurance company deny me coverage if my daily commute is too long?

Generally speaking, longer commutes typically translate to more expensive car insurance rates but they shouldn’t preclude you from purchasing coverage. That said, this varies between insurance providers, so it is possible that you could be denied coverage if you have an abnormally long daily commute or you spend significantly more time on the road than the average driver.

If I change my daily commute route, can I qualify for a cheaper car insurance rate?

Changing your daily commute route may impact your car insurance rates, especially if you can shorten it. However, it is not guaranteed. We recommend speaking with your insurance provider before changing your route and make sure that you are always honest with your insurer about your driving habits.

Should I tell my insurance provider if I use other modes of transit, like carpooling or public transportation, for my daily commute?

Yes, using alternative modes of transportation to driving can impact your premium. Since carpooling, taking public transportation, walking, cycling etc., all mean less time spent behind the wheel, it is important to inform your insurance provider. Using other modes of transit reduces your risk of getting into a car accident, which can result in a lower auto insurance premium.

How can I save on auto insurance if I have a long daily commute?

There are several ways that you can save on auto insurance, even if you have a long daily commute. For example, you can bundle insurance policies together, sign up for a driver’s education course, drive safely to maintain a clean driving record, install a telematics device in your vehicle, purchase a safe, reliable car, purchase a hybrid or electric car instead of a gas-powered one, minimize how much time you spend on the road by adopting other forms of transit, and shop around to ensure you always have the best rates.

Does the type of vehicle I drive impact my auto insurance rates for a daily commute?

Yes, the type of car you drive is another factor that impacts your car insurance premium in Canada. An insurance company will want to know the make, model, and year of your vehicle to assess how risky it is. For example, some cars may be more prone to theft while others may have high safety ratings, reducing the odds of severe damage in an accident. Generally, cars that are newer and more expensive have higher premiums than those that are older and cheaper, namely because the former would cost the insurance company more money to repair or replace than the latter in the event of damage. However, some newer vehicles are better equipped to prevent accidents with features such as autonomous braking or crash alerts which can lead to cheaper premiums.

Can I change my car insurance coverage options for my daily commute?

Yes, policyholders can adjust their car insurance coverage as needed. Typically, the best time to do this is before your policy is up for renewal. If you decide that your current coverage is no longer working, you can work with an insurance professional to change it as needed. This may include raising or lowering your coverage limits, increasing your decreasing your policy deductible, purchasing new additional coverage, or reducing the amount of overall coverage on your policy, so long as it still complies with local laws in your province.

What happens if I get into an accident on my daily commute?

If you get into an accident on your daily commute, you should ensure that everyone is safe and call emergency services if required. Please note that depending on where you live, you may be required to call the authorities and report the accident. For example, there are certain circumstances under which you have to report a car accident in Ontario. Next, make sure to exchange contact and insurance information with those involved in the accident. Finally, contact your insurance company. Calling your insurance company after a minor car accident or a major car accident is crucial.

Should I tell my insurance provider if my daily commute changes?

Yes. Since your daily commute has an impact on your car insurance rates, it is critical that you inform your insurance provider as soon as possible if your daily commute changes. Keep in mind that notifying your insurer about a change in your daily commute route could save you money, especially if your new commute is shorter.

How do I find the best auto insurance rates for my daily commute?

To find the best auto insurance rates for your daily commute, shopping around is key. Shopping for insurance means obtaining quotes from multiple insurance companies and comparing them. It is the only way to know that you are getting the best coverage at the lowest possible rates. Another option is to ask family members or friends for insurance recommendations. Reading reviews of different insurance providers in your area can also be useful before purchasing a policy.

Are there any car insurance discounts for daily commuters?

If you have a shorter commute or use other modes of travel for commuting, like public transportation, you could be eligible for a car insurance discount. Depending on how infrequently you drive, you might even qualify for an occasional driver discount, which can lead to a major reduction in your rates. Beyond occasional driver discounts, you could qualify for other types of car insurance discounts through your employer or past educational institution. There are all types of employment and alumni car insurance discounts out there. Do some research to determine which insurance providers offer discounts to people who work with your company, or attended school where you attended school. You might be surprised to learn how much money you can save simply because of your past choices.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.