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Saving amid the rising cost of home, auto insurance

There are several reasons why auto insurance premiums continue to rise and one of them is as simple as the vehicles on the road, says Dawn Marchand, vice-president of marketing and direct distribution for CBIA/Lawyers Financial.

“Most people see their premiums going up year over year. Even if you don’t have an accident, premiums can still rise,” Marchand tells AdvocateDaily.com.

With more than half of every premium dollar going to pay for claims, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, she says it’s important to look at what affects claims.

“One of the more interesting things is that new cars are more advanced than ever before. What used to be a simple fender-bender can now require the replacement of cameras and sensors,” Marchand says.

The extra features in today’s vehicles, such as airbags, assorted electronics, GPS and cameras, can all lead to complications in the event of an accident, she says, noting that sensors on a vehicle that assist with parking are in “vulnerable impact areas,” such as the bumper.

“With all the technology, there’s no such thing as a simple repair. A minor collision used to be a minor repair, but now it can be much more costly.”

Marchand says distracted driving — particularly because of phone use — is another significant factor that leads to a rise in insurance claims.

“This is a real issue that we have to get a handle on,” she says, pointing to insurance industry data from 2013 that shows one person was injured in a distracted-driving collision every half-hour in Ontario. 

“And a driver using a phone is four times more likely to be involved in a collision than one who isn’t," she says. "These are compelling statistics that clearly illustrate we need to put the phone down and focus on driving.” 

But while a phone is perhaps the main culprit, it isn’t the only thing that can distract drivers. Digital screens mounted on dashboards and GPS navigation systems can also encourage motorists to take their eyes off the road, as can eating, Marchand says.

“If you’re driving 90 km/h and you look away for just five seconds, you’ve covered the distance of a football field with your eyes closed,” she says.

Auto insurance claims are also tied to stolen vehicles, insurance fraud — which costs each consumer up to $200 more on their annual premium — and extreme weather events, says Marchand.

“Across the country, we’ve seen an increase in extreme weather events, from major snowstorms to flooding. Every time one of these events happens, there’s an increase in auto collisions, which contributes to an increase in claims that cost even more to repair — and you can see how it all adds up to higher premiums for everyone,” she says.

Marchand says CBIA/Lawyers Financial — which is a not-for-profit organization that offers insurance and investment solutions for members of the legal community, along with their families and staff — works with The Personal Insurance Company to provide home and auto insurance.

“We start with exclusive rates and then add on all kinds of opportunities to save money with auto insurance. There are safe driver rewards, winter tire savings, and there are bundling savings for auto and home insurance together. So there are a number of different ways to save,” she says.

When it comes to home insurance, flooding in basements is occurring “like we’ve never seen before,” again due to extreme weather, Marchand says. The Personal Insurance Company offers a package of water protection and detection features, such as Alert, a device for the home that notifies a homeowner through their smartphone when water or freezing is detected. The company has also introduced new flood coverage.

“It just makes sense to shop around for insurance, and the good thing for the legal community is we’ve done that,” she says. “We’ve got exclusive rates and we have dedicated customer service people for the legal community.”

For more information, and to get a quick quote on home and auto insurance, visit Lawyers Financial.

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