Insurance in Alberta is ridiculous. People complain about high taxes in Quebec all the time but they have rock-bottom insurance rates, subsidized daycare, free/inexpensive posts-secondary schooling and incredibly affordable heating and power bills. I knew our car and home insurance quotes would be higher than I had paid in Quebec, but I wasn’t prepared at all for how high.
Our Insurance Story
A bit of a primer – we have a smallish house, 874 square feet upstairs and down. Our house is not in a flood zone and we live in a neighbourhood of older retired couples. Our car is a 2015 model Buick that we drive to Calgary once a month and around town 2-3 days a week. We have like 10,000 kilometres on it. That’s how infrequently we drive.
Despite making (what we consider) responsible choices when it came to our house and car, the insurance companies saw straight through our charade – BEWARE THESE HOODLUMS! – our data screamed as the insurance broker typed it into her software. THESE CONSERVATIVE MARRIED FOLK ARE TROUBLE!
Last October our car insurance quote came out at $1100. We were in a bit of a sticky wicket and needed to insurance that day so we accepted the quote without shopping around. When we bought our house, our quote came to $960 which, again, we accepted without question. We signed on the bottom line and I went to my summer semester at the university and everything seemed great.
When I got back to town though, two people asked me wtf I was doing paying so much for insurance. One family has a house double the size of ours, four trucks, lives close to a river and was paying the same insurance rate as us. Another has two vehicles, a house 50% larger than ours, smokes and pays half what we were paying.
I took a look at our policy and found a couple of errors with our quote. Due to a miscommunication, our home square footage was written down as 1750 square feet. I stopped by the brokerage and asked for another quote, and to have one run with our car insurance quoted as well, to see if we could save money by bundling.
Long story short because this is already 400 words, our new quote came back $16 higher despite the lower square footage and it was “impossible” to bundle our car insurance. I visited another brokerage and got similar quotes. At the third broker I struck gold. Instead of having a separate “Vanessa and her husband” quote, this broker decided to simply tack me onto Le Monsieur’s existing rental property insurance policy as a sort of +1. A part of me didn’t like this since I pay the insurance bills but hey, savings are savings. A week or so later we signed the paperwork and now pay $1,605 for both car and house, instead of the $2,060 we were paying.
How to Save Money on Insurance
- Be tenacious. The first insurance broker we met with did not like me. She didn’t like me the first time we met and she certainly didn’t like me the fourth time we met. Unwilling to accept what I considered outrageous insurance rates, I got a half dozen quotes between the three brokerages. We comparison shop for groceries, why not insurance?
- Ask questions. Maybe you don’t understand something like “why an 874 square foot house is $16 more to insure than a 1750 square foot house”. Ask your broker. If his answer sets off your BS alarm, maybe it’s time to find a different broker. If your broker is BSing you about a simple question, chances are there’s more BS underneath and it could be costing you money
- Don’t be afraid to complain. The first broker was difficult to get in touch with and reluctant to answer questions. I complained not only to the insurance company but to the brokerage as well. When you’re paying thousands of dollars for a service, the least a service person can do is answer your questions. Not understanding your insurance policy is a great way to end up being over-insured or being too nervous to make a claim. It’s your responsibility to understand what you’re buying so speak up!
- Don’t auto-renew, but be aware that loyalty discounts exist. This is a tricky one. The reason we got a great rate for our home and auto is because Le Monsieur has been a client of our insurance company since 2001. On one hand, auto-renewing policies year after year is easy and probably resulted in a large loyalty discount. On the other hand, if we shopped the policies around we might be able to find an even better price. When you get your renewal slip in the mail, take some time and call a few brokers for quotes. Even $100 savings could be worth your time.