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As a newcomer, every big purchase counts as an important milestone; a new vehicle is no exception. We know that buying a car is an exciting step and one of the first major considerations when arriving to a new country. In Ontario, having proof of automobile insurance is necessary before finalizing the purchase of a vehicle and is mandatory for all drivers in Canada.

Auto insurance is intended to protect you in the event of an accident. However, it is important to know that there are different levels of auto insurance that offer different levels of protection. The most basic form of auto insurance is general liability coverage. It is the lowest on the cost spectrum but only protects you in the case of an accident that is not your fault. If you are proven at fault under general liability coverage, you could end up having to pay for your own car’s damages and potentially the other cars involved as well. It is important to consider your driving history and comfortability behind the wheel when deciding which level of insurance works for you.

Searching for and obtaining auto insurance is not difficult with the convenience of the internet. However, you must be mindful when sifting through companies offering auto insurance, because some are unlicensed organizations offering fraudulent services. To avoid this, utilize Government websites that provide verified links to certified companies in Ontario.

Once you have found a few potential providers, it is best to shop around and compare quotes. If you are a new driver or do not have a driving record, the quotes received will be higher compared to a more experienced driver. Past traffic convictions, accidents, or DUI offenses, will also cause the cost of your policy to increase. Often, large insurance companies will offer you discounted rates on auto insurance if you also sign up for home and life insurance, pushing potential customers to ‘bundle services’ by enticing them with seemingly lower rates. If you are looking for auto insurance only, it is best to go with a small brokerage firm that will explore independent insurance providers on your behalf and provide you with the lowest rate possible. Be honest when providing details to the insurance company, because providing inaccurate information could result in your policy being cancelled or refused in the case of an accident.

Once you have obtained auto insurance, negotiate terms that are right for you. Companies will allow different payment schedules and renewal agreements so revisit your policy every year to ensure that the terms still suit you. If you miss a payment, your premiums could go up or your policy could be cancelled. If you want to switch to another company, early termination may cost you a penalty.

As the owner of an insured vehicle, you are responsible for anyone who drives your car. All drivers in your household with a valid license must be listed on the policy as occasional drivers. This will protect you, the principal driver, if anything happens while they are behind the wheel. Also, don’t forget to update your insurance provider if your situation changes. If your child gets their license and will be using your car, let your insurance company know. If an occasional driver was listed but should be removed, contact your insurance company and adjust your plan so that you can renegotiate your policy.

Securing automobile insurance may appear overwhelming at first, but it is a necessary step for driving in Ontario and is worth the effort to protect your property, yourself and your family. For more information to get you started, visit the Ministry of Transportation site.

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