Car insurance rates by postal code toronto

What are you paying for car insurance? It could depend on where you live.

Your address is one of the factors that insurers take into account when determining your premiums.

Don't believe me? Go to Kanetix.ca. an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best car insurance rates.

Put in information about yourself and get some rates. Then, do it again with a different postal code and see how the rates change.

I did it myself, using my home address and my office address (about five kilometres apart).

The lowest-cost provider, BelairDirect, wanted $672 a year to insure my 1998 Toyota Sienna van when I put in my own postal code. The premium jumped to $839 when I put in my postal code at work.

Several other insurers quoted higher rates at my office address than at home: Zenith Insurance ($893 vs. $1,033), AXA Insurance ($900 vs. $1,061), Aviva Elite ($944 vs. $1,184), CAA Insurance ($1,109 vs. $1,366) and York Fire & Casualty ($1,193 vs. $1,232).

Many insurers quoted the same rates, no matter which postal code I used: RBC Insurance ($930), Pembridge Insurance ($941), Chieftain Insurance ($1,056), Economical Mutual ($1,063), Dominion of Canada ($1,130), Allstate Insurance ($1,190) and DirectProtect ($1,832).

Finally, one company, TD Insurance Home and Auto, had a slightly lower rate at my office address than at home ($948 vs. $955).

Remember that you can't treat online quotes as written in stone. As Kanetix says in a disclaimer: "These premiums are estimates and are provided solely for the means of comparison. Actual premiums may be higher or lower than the estimated amounts."

Still, you can learn a few lessons from this experiment:

  • Where you live can affect your insurance rate.
  • If you can't change where you live, change insurance companies.
  • By shopping around, you can find gaps of $1,000 or more a year between companies.

InsuranceHotlinealso provides online quotes for car insurance. When I tried that service, adding my husband's car as well, I was given the three best quotes – AXA Pacific Insurance ($1,479), RBC Insurance ($1,642) and AXA Insurance ($1,699).

A day later, I got a call from an insurance broker, offering to help me switch. That's no accident, since InsuranceHotlineprovides referrals to brokers. I said I was staying put for now.

You may have noticed full-page ads in this newspaper for InsuranceHotline, which was acquired in February by Star Media Group and Metroland (owned by Toronto Star publisher Torstar Corp.). The service is valuable for consumers and insurance brokers and now has the promotional support to reach a broader audience, says Lorenzo DeMarchi of Torstar.

Comparative information is also provided by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, an arm's length agency of the Ontario finance ministry that regulates car insurance rates.

Go to FSCO's website (www.fsco) and click Automobile Insurance on the home page. Then, scroll down to Consumer Information and click on the Educational Auto Rate Tutorial.

The tutorial gives you four profiles. You pick the one that most closely matches your own situation. Then, you pick the city closest to where you live and the insurers whose rates you want to compare. (FSCO has information on 56 insurance companies and updates it quarterly.)

"Your rate is based on where you live," FSCO says in the tutorial, adding that it could be 5 per cent higher in suburban Mississauga than downtown Toronto.

Next week, we'll look at other factors that can affect your car insurance premiums.

Ellen Roseman's column appears Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. You can reach her by writing Business c/o Toronto Star, 1 Yonge St. Toronto M5E 1E6; by phone at 416-945-8687, by fax at 416-865-3630; or at [email protected] email.

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