Car-Sharing Insurance – Are You Covered?

pictogram image on the street of a blue car with two people entering on either side, representing 'car sharing'

Recently, car-sharing has taken off across Canada. You can “borrow” or rent a car for a fee determined by how long you use the car. Some of the most popular car-sharing companies are:

  • Car2Go
  • EVO (in BC only)
  • AutoShare (in Toronto only)
  • Zipcar
  • MODO

Car-sharing works great if you don’t want to deal with the stress (or expense) of car ownership, including parking, maintenance and all those other fees that add up over time. Plus, less vehicle ownership is great for the environment and for reducing traffic congestion.

Generally, these car-sharing services charge a per minute or per hour or per day fee. Some also charge a membership fee. Your parking, insurance, and fuel can be included by some companies, but for other’s, you’re still responsible for covering some of these expenses.

But what happens if you’re involved in an accident? Are you covered? Will you be paying out of pocket to repair the car-sharing vehicle or for injuries?

 

Car-Sharing Insurance

The company providing the car-sharing service also supplies insurance. It’s generally included as part of the rental cost, although it may be an additional fee (for example, Car2Go charges a $1 fee for insurance each time you rent a car). This coverage is generally centred around third-party liability insurance: covering the costs associated with property damage and injuries if you cause an accident behind the wheel of your car-sharing vehicle. However, there are some conditions:

  • You must be in compliance with the terms and conditions of the service
  • You must have been the one driving (if using your account)
  • Your driver’s license is valid
  • You are responsible for a deductible (usually $1000)
  • You notify the car-sharing service immediately of any incident

You may also be held liable for any excess losses that exceed the insurance coverage offered by the car-sharing service. What does this mean? If your car-sharing service covers $1 million in third-party liability but you’ve caused an accident that has caused $2 million in damages and injuries (including legal expenses if you’re sued), you’d be on the hook for the extra $1 million not covered. That’s why continuing to have personal car insurance can be a good idea, depending on the amount of protection provided by the car-sharing service.

What if you’re not at fault? In that case, the driver who is at fault should have third party liability insurance to cover these expenses.

Additional Car-Sharing Insurance Coverage

Regular users of car-sharing services could benefit from additional third-party liability insurance. This can help you cover the gap between what the car-sharing service will cover and the true cost of an at-fault accident. Like the example above, if the car-sharing service provides $1 million in third-party liability protection but all the costs add up to $2 million… you’d definitely hope you had your own third-party liability insurance to protect yourself financially!

Talk to one of our brokers to learn more about car-sharing insurance and third-party liability. It’s always better to know what your options are and be prepared before an accident happens.

The 5 Biggest Reasons Alberta Auto Insurance Rates Are Increasing

A variety of models of black and white cars parked end to end, filling the frame.

The 5 Biggest Reasons Alberta Auto Insurance Rates Are Increasing

J.D Power’s 2019 Canada Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study released on February 14, 2019, stated that Alberta has seen the largest jump in its average for increases in car insurance rates, coming in at $326. This was, shockingly, even higher than the national average – which has increased by $298! These rising rates can result in a considerable amount of dissatisfaction and confusion among Albertans. It leaves a number of us wondering: why are Alberta auto insurance rates increasing?

The 3 biggest reasons Alberta auto insurance rates are going up are:

  1. The inflation of the cost of accidents (due to repairs and liability).
  2. The increase in the frequency of accidents.
  3. A rise in natural disasters and weather damage.
  4. The upturn of insurance fraud taking place.
  5. Vehicle theft is surging.

Inflation in the Costs of Accidents in Alberta

The cost of having an accident in Alberta has been increasing year over year. The 2018 Collision Cost Study Update showed that the direct cost of collisions increased by an average of 25% between 2010 and 2017. This includes the costs of property damage, medical care, emergency services,  legal services, travel delay and lost time in the workplace.

The cost of repairs is increasing for several reasons:

  • A rise in the cost of materials
  • Increasing labour costs
  • The presence of more technology on vehicles such as sensors, cameras, et cetera

More and more vehicles are using electronics and upgraded materials. While this is excellent for your safety and daily driving, it becomes more expensive to replace or repair in the event of an accident. Generally, materials and labour costs are also increasing.

There’s the added complication of liability. This covers property damage and bodily injuries. While some medical care may be covered by the provincial health care system and an employer health care plan, there may be additional expenses that you can be held liable for. Your liability insurance could cover these expenses, up to your policy limit. These costs can be high, however, especially if the accident is serious.

In 2019, the Government of Alberta also introduced a limitation on the amount of payment for claims of minor injury known as the “minor injury cap,” which applies to all injuries sustained in accidents that fall under the category of minor soft tissue and minor sprain and strain injuries. With this, they finalized a set price for liability-only auto insurance and introduced a 5% accumulative rate increase limit.

Increasing Frequency of Accidents

Calgary and Edmonton have seen an increase, especially over the last two years. Distracted driving is one of the top contributors to collisions in Alberta. Between 23,000 and 27,000 distracted driving convictions have been made on Alberta’s roads each year between 2014 and 2018. With the inflating costs of accidents, this means insurance companies are paying out more money more frequently.

A Rise in Natural Disasters and Weather Damage

Bad weather causes a huge spike in accidents on the road. Storms can cause flash flooding and low visibility, which can in turn cause collisions. In the winter, it’s even worse as visibility and road conditions can become extremely poor. In April 2019, a spring snowstorm caused nearly 150 incidents on Calgary’s roads.

Natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires have also been prevalent in Alberta over the last decade. Many vehicles are left behind and are damaged or destroyed.

An Increase in Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is very common and costs Canadians over $2 billion a year, according to Aviva. Here are some common types of insurance fraud:

  • Lying, misrepresentation or failure to notify on an insurance application or claim.
  • Fake insurance paperwork such as pink cards.
  • Unlicensed insurance representatives “issuing” insurance policies.
  • Intentional acts to damage a vehicle.
  • Exaggeration of damage or costs such as legal or medical.

Vehicle Theft in Alberta

Alberta is leading Canada in vehicle thefts with over 23,000 cars being stolen each year. While not all drivers carry insurance to reimburse them for vehicle theft, many do and this has left insurers paying out more and more.

Alberta auto insurance rates are increasing?

 

Taking all this into account, it is no wonder that the Alberta auto insurance industry is raising rates in order to pay out for these claims as well as maintain themselves as a business. There is currently a cap on the amount Alberta auto insurers can raise their rates: 5% total overall. There is also a cap on liability insurance costs.

You may experience the following actions from insurers:

  • Eliminating discounts on insurance
  • Decreasing payment method options
  • Raising comprehensive and collision coverage prices
  • Removing their services from the province
  • Re-application required for renewals

Unfortunately, many of these factors are out of our control. We can practice safe driving, reduce our time spent behind the wheel, protect against theft, and be informed on insurance fraud… but these issues aren’t about one person. We understand it can be frustrating to see Alberta auto insurance rates increase, especially when you’ve got a clean driving record and are claims-free. Contact your insurance broker for more information on what affects your rates and how you can reduce your premiums.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance for Small Businesses Explained

Smiling male sitting behind the wheel of his car. He is holding out a cardboard box with food towards the passenger window.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance for Small Businesses Explained

One of the most common questions our brokers get is “Do I need commercial vehicle insurance for my small business?” Unfortunately, there is a lot of misconceptions about what is covered by your personal car insurance. What’s worse, is if you fail to notify your insurance company and do not have the proper insurance policy in place, your claims could be denied. But have no fear, commercial vehicle insurance for small businesses will be explained in this article.

How do I know if I need commercial vehicle insurance for a small business?

If you’re only using your vehicle for commuting to and from your place of work, you don’t have to worry about getting commercial vehicle insurance for small businesses. This changes, however, if you’re doing one of the following actions:

  • Getting paid for transporting passengers
  • Driving to work sites or to regularly visit clients
  • Regularly transporting employees
  • Carrying of work-related materials
  • Making work-related deliveries
  • Having work-related tools or equipment installed on your vehicle
  • Allowing employees to drive your vehicle
  • If your vehicle is owned/leased by a corporation, partnership, or registered by a business

Keep in mind that this isn’t a complete list. You should talk to your broker about how you use your vehicle for full details on whether or not you need commercial vehicle insurance for your small business. However, if you use your personal vehicle for any of those tasks, you should purchase commercial vehicle insurance for small businesses. You must also have this specialized policy if your vehicle is registered in your company’s name. Remember, your general business insurance won’t cover vehicles.

What about my personal car insurance policy?

Generally, your personal car insurance policy will not extend to using your vehicle for commercial purposes. Additionally, you will not be covered for any job-related materials stored inside your vehicle or equipped to it. Why aren’t you covered? Generally, insuring a commercial vehicle for a small business has different levels of risk than a personal vehicle. You’re more likely to have valuable materials, you may drive more, and you may be at higher risk of being sued if you’re involved in an accident.

It’s important to remember that every insurance company is different. Yours will inform you as to what type of use is allowed. Talk to your broker for more details on what your car insurance policy covers and when it’s time to make the change to commercial vehicle insurance for small businesses.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance vs. Personal Car Insurance

Basically, the difference between the two boils down to how you use your vehicle and how much coverage is offered in the event of an accident or damages while using your vehicle for work purposes. If you use your vehicle for anything other than commuting, your personal car insurance will likely not offer any coverage. Even if it does, it may not be enough. Commercial vehicle insurance policies often have greater liability coverage as businesses often have higher liability risk. Your work-related materials and equipment may also be covered.

The Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada also have insurance requirements for certain commercial vehicles, which can include:

  • Cargo Insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Passenger Insurance

Even if you only have one vehicle for your small business, you still need to abide by the rules and protect the financial security of your small business.

What does commercial vehicle insurance cover for small businesses?

Commercial vehicle insurance varies depending on your insurer and your industry. There are many customized insurance policies that fit the needs of your small business. The three main areas of coverage include:

  • Liability – Covers third party injury and property damage.
  • Collision – Covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle if you’re involved in an accident.
  • Comprehensive – Covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle if you suffer a certain type of damage, such as storm, fire, or vandalism.

 

 

As always, check in with your independent insurance broker. They can help you evaluate your insurance needs and answer your questions.

Do I need rental car insurance for summer vacation?

Two boys are smiling as they lean out of the rental car's windows as they enjoy the evening sun on their summer vacation.

Do I need rental car insurance for summer vacation?

Renting a car during your summer vacation can make your trip one to remember: you can go at your own pace, explore off the beaten track, and sometimes, it’s the only way to get where you want to go! But navigating a foreign country can be stressful and that triples if you get into an accident. If you’re wondering about how to protect yourself and if you need rental car insurance for summer vacation, you’re in the right place. We’ll review everything you need to know.

Before You Rent a Car for Summer Vacation

Booking a rental car for summer vacation should be done in advance, particularly if you’re travelling to a popular destination or have strict requirements for the type of car you want to rent. Here are some things to consider about your rental car:

  • Type of driving you’re planning on doing
  • Size of the car (consider your height as well as how easy it will be to park)
  • How many people it can transport
  • How much luggage room you require
  • Automatic or manual transmission
  • Fuel type and availability
  • Features such as backup camera, roof rack, fold-down seats, et cetera
  • Parking benefits
  • Roadside support
  • Location of pick up and drop off
  • Dates available
  • Price
  • Damage, cleanliness, and fuel policies
  • Insurance coverage available
  • Company ratings and reviews

There are a few decisions that need to be made initially. First, you’ll need to decide on the car. How many people are you travelling with? How big of a car do you need? What type of car do you want? Do you have a lot of luggage or other items with you? Do you need an automatic transmission? Do you want a car with certain features like a backup camera, roof rack, or fold-down seats?

Once you’ve decided on the general car size and type you want, it’s time to look up companies. Make sure the company allows for its vehicles to go where you want to take it. You’ll also want to double check the hours of operation, rental roadside support, and read reviews of the company. Check out what they offer for insurance and what the fine print is, as well.

Once you’ve found a rental car company and vehicle that works, it’s time to look at the insurance aspect.

Rental Car Insurance for Summer Vacation

Even though it might seem like a hassle, ensuring that you are properly covered is essential. What happens if your rental car is involved in an accident? What if it’s a victim of a break-in or theft? If you do not have coverage, you will likely have to pay out of your own pocket. Charges from the rental company could be astronomical, not to mention if you’re held liable for someone else’s injuries or property damage.

Rental Car Company Insurance

Rental companies will probably urge that you purchase their insurance in the case of an accident. While insurance is important, you may not want to jump for this type of coverage right away. You should always read over any policy to see what exactly will be covered and what the costs are. Sometimes these policies are not very good and don’t protect you as the renter. They may have a very high deductible or extra fees.

If you do opt to purchase this insurance, be sure you keep a copy with you at all times. You should also ask what the process is and have them show you exactly what is covered and what the fees are.

Credit Card Rental Car Insurance

Certain credit card companies will also provide insurance for rental cars. Their coverage varies. Often, what they supply is known as collision damage waivers. This helps cover charges for repairs and replacement of the vehicle if you’re involved in an accident. Many will also cover theft, but may not add liability coverage in the event of an accident. In certain situations, this coverage can be better than what the rental car company is offering. But this all depends on the individual credit card and rental car insurance.

Be sure to understand your policy. You can call your credit card company, check their website, or take their wordings to your insurance broker if you need help. It’s never a bad idea to book your rental car with a credit card anyways, as you usually don’t pay extra for this insurance coverage and there can be other benefits as well.

Your Personal Insurance

Rental cars are not covered by your personal auto insurance unless you have a special endorsement (add-on coverage). Adding this coverage may be your best option, especially if you’re worried about your liability and damages being adequately protected. It is also useful if you travel frequently or plan to rent a vehicle for a longer time period.

It’s important to note that your coverage will vary by your insurer. Some insurance companies only offer coverage for certain countries or if you have an international driver’s permit.

Talk to your broker about your options when it comes to using your personal insurance for rental car insurance for summer vacation.

Final Things to Remember About Rental Car Insurance

Always document the car when you pick it up and once you drop it off, preferably with photos or videos. Note any scuffs, chips, or any type of damage.

You also don’t have to use any of the above rental car insurance options in isolation – you could use all three, and this isn’t a bad idea.

Make sure to choose your insurance wisely so that your summer vacation doesn’t get ruined by worry. Enjoy the drive with peace of mind. Talk to your broker if you have any questions – they’re happy to help!

 

Cannabis legalization and your insurance: What you need to know

On October 17, 2018, the Government of Canada legalized and regulated access to cannabis.

This legislation will:

  • Allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis
  • Allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household
  • Set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces to increase the age limit
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial government
  • Establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol impaired driving

Should you choose to use cannabis on a recreational or medical basis, here are some important things you need to be aware of with regards to your insurance.

Car Insurance and Cannabis

In June of 2018, Alberta’s alcohol and drug impaired driving offences came into effect to align with new federal drug laws.

With the legalization of marijuana, cannabis use is being looked at the same way as alcohol use when it comes to getting behind the wheel. While legal, if you are driving under the influence of marijuana and are over the legal limit, even if it is intended for medicinal purposes, it will affect your insurance the same way an alcohol conviction would.

Whether it is from alcohol or illegal drugs, a DUI is a criminal code conviction that will stay on your record for five years from the date of conviction. You will also automatically have your license suspended. These things combined can affect the rates you pay for car insurance for several years. During the first three years, you are considered high risk and will be charged an extra free on top of your premiums. The next two years you are eligible to be placed in a regular insurance market but will also be charged an extra fee for a higher risk as well.

The hike in your rates comes as a direct result from insurance companies seeing you as a greater risk based on statistics and actuarial data.

According to data from Intact Insurance, drivers with a DUI conviction are 30-40% more likely to be involved in an accident. Data from MADD Canada says 30% of drivers with a DUI; get another DUI within 10 years.

Lastly, should you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you forfeit the right to claim for any damages and injuries to a third party.


Legal Limits

Under the new drug-impaired driving offences, the maximum amount of THC blood concentration level a driver can have is 2 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml).

Note:  Drivers under that Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that are found to have any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs in their blood are now subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol. These include:

  • immediate 30-day license suspension
  • immediate 7-day vehicle seizure
  • must remain in GDL program for 2 years and have no suspensions in the last year to graduate from the program

For more information regarding the impaired driving law changes in Alberta, click here.


Cannabis and home insurance

When it comes to having medicinal cannabis, marijuana plants, or cannabis accouterments in your home, depending on which company your insurance is with, you will be provided coverage under the contents section of your home, condo and tenants insurance policy.

For more information on the legal amounts of cannabis possession under the new legislation, click here.

The above mentioned items related to cannabis can sometimes fall under what is called a special limit. A special limit on your insurance policy is essentially a limitation within the wording of your coverage that outlines the maximum that would be paid out for certain items in the event of a claim.

Please contact your Sharp Insurance broker to discuss special limits on your policy as every insurance company is different.

At Sharp, we understand the insurance can be complicated and confusion. As always, feel free to contact your Sharp Insurance broker with regards to any questions or concerns you may have with regards to the legalization of cannabis and your insurance.

10 ways to save money on your car insurance – guaranteed!

Let’s face it, we’re always looking for ways to have a little extra cash in our pocket. At Sharp, we’re committed to finding the insurance policy that works for you, at the best price. Why pay more for the same coverage, when you can pay less?

Here are our top 10, nearly foolproof, ways you can save on your car insurance.

  1. Bring your policy to Sharp and save 5% – guaranteed*

If we told you we could guarantee you cheaper insurance rates for the same level of coverage, what would you say? On your next renewal, bring your insurance needs to Sharp and we will beat any new customer’s insurance premium by 5% – that’s the Sharp Guarantee. *Eligible policies must be with Intact, Aviva, RSA or additional participating markets. Get a free, no obligation quote today.

  1. Bundle and save up to 20%

Insurance can sometimes be complicated, so why not simplify it and save money at the same time? By bundling multiple policies, like your home and car insurance, you pay only one premium, have one renewal date and in the event of a loss involving both your car and your home you only pay one deductible. Start your multi-product insurance quote here.

  1. Enroll in Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) aka Telematics

When it comes to the data on your phone or your lunch at the salad bar, you’re only paying for what you use. You can get that same benefit with your car insurance by enrolling in a usage-based insurance (UBI) or telematics program through participating insurance companies. This can save you up to 10% in the first year.

What is UBI or telematics?

Did you know your car is built for a device that can track and transmit information about your driving skills such as hard braking, speed, distance and the times of day you travel most?   A small removable device that gathers data, can be installed in your vehicle to rate your insurance premium based on your driving skills rather than demographic generalizations. Inevitably, having this device track your good and bad driving habits will prompt you to be more aware on the road which will help increase safety precautions for you and others on the road. If you think you’re a fantastic driver, then this device could mean big savings for you. Additionally, should you make some not great driving choices, your premium cannot be increased. 

  1. Raise your deductible

Deductible – [dih-duhk-tuh-buh l]. $250, $500, $1,000 – no matter the amount, your deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying before your insurance coverage kicks in to pay for the remainder of the damage in the event of a claim. You can save money on your insurance by increasing your deductible amount. While this could save you money in the long-term, it’s important to be aware that you will be responsible for paying a higher amount towards claim costs and be financially prepared.

BONUS TIP: Consider saving your deductible amount in a high-interest e-savings account. Then you’ll have it on-hand should you need it, and you will be earning interest on it as well.

  1. Pay your premium annually

Many of us pay our insurance premiums monthly. However, some insurance companies – including several we work with – will offer discounts if you pay your premium up front. You could save up to 4% by paying your premium annually. Talk to your Sharp Insurance broker to determine if this is right for you.

  1. Enroll in driver’s education

From an insurance perspective, young or inexperienced drivers (less than 3 years’ experience) are more at risk of filing a claim- that is why their insurance costs are generally higher. By enrolling in driver training, you’re gaining experience that helps you become a better and safer driver – lowering the likelihood of having a claim – and ultimately lowering your premiums as well.

  1. Install an anti-theft device

According to Statistics Canada, Alberta leads the country in vehicle thefts, with almost 23,000 vehicles stolen every year. That works out to roughly 60 vehicles per day.

 

Some insurance companies will provide discounts on your car insurance when you provide proof of installation. Furthermore, in the event your vehicle is stolen, the fact that you have an anti-theft device installed may result in your insurance company offering you a reduced deductible.

The three types of anti-theft devices on the market include:

  • Passive: an anti-theft system that automatically protects your vehicle. They are often built into your car and arm themselves when the vehicle is turned off, the key is removed and the door is shut.
  • Active: an anti-theft system that you need to enable to work. These include things like a steering wheel Club® or a car alarm that needs to be manually armed.
  • Auto immobilizers: one of the most effective types of anti-theft device for your vehicle. They prevent the car from being started unless a specifically coded key is used.

Not all anti-theft devices are eligible for insurance discounts. Before you install anything in your vehicle, speak to your Sharp Insurance broker.

  1. Practice safe driving

As of September 1, 2011, distracted driving became illegal in Alberta. In 2017 in Edmonton alone, police issued over 7,400 distracted driving tickets. That’s an average of 20 tickets per day. Across Alberta in 2017, there were over 24,000 distracted driving convictions, according to data from the provincial government.

Insurance companies take into account the number and type of traffic violations as well as the number of at fault collisions when determining your insurance premium. By keeping your eyes on the road, following traffic laws and going the speed limit, your likelihood of getting into a collision reduces significantly, and you may just be rewarded with insurance discounts.

  1. Group and Professional discounts

If your employer or professional association is a member of Sharp’s Group Home and Auto Insurance program you’ll benefit from exclusive discounts on insurance, 24-7 insurance access and service, 24-7 claims support and payment flexibility. Learn more about our group insurance program and how to register your organization here.

  1. Talk to a Sharp Insurance broker

Insurance can be confusing and complicated. Let us do the work for you! Whether you need to insure a single vehicle, or the whole family fleet, we’re ready to help you find the coverage to protect your ride.

Our team of experts will find you customizable coverage with a policy that fits your needs. We partner with the top insurance companies in Canada to provide you with excellent options at the best value.

A quote from Sharp Insurance is always fast and free. What are you waiting for? Start your wicked fast insurance quote today.