They are wasting thousands of dollars a year because they fail to shop around. And it is not because they lack driving experience or have a poor safety record.
People of the same age, driving the identical make, model and year of car, and with unblemished and equally lengthy driving records, could pay less than $1,500 a year for auto insurance - or they could pay more than $5,000, depending where they buy their insurance.
Don't take my word from it. The figures come from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Finance. The agency tracks - and publishes - rates charged by all companies offering auto insurance in the province.
Of course, inexperienced drivers and those who have had at-fault accidents or driving convictions in the past few years are dinged with annual insurance premiums that can be more than $10,000 a year.
But if you're a safe and careful driver, live in Ontario and think you're paying too much for auto insurance, a good place to look for help in finding lower rates is the website of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
The website lists typical examples of auto insurance rates charged by companies that offer insurance to Ontario drivers. These rates are updated quarterly.
While the website gives examples of auto insurance rates for drivers living in Ottawa, it will not tell you what you, personally, can expect to pay for car insurance. There are too many variables for that.
But it dramatically demonstrates how widely rates vary from one company to another for the same coverage and the same category of driver and vehicle. And, if you fit one of the profiled examples, you can get a good idea how much - or how little - you can expect to pay for car insurance, depending on where you purchase it.
Even if you don't fit any of the examples, you will see which insurance companies offer the lowest and highest rates to at least some of their customers.
This should strengthen your position in seeking a lower rate than a company, agent or broker might initially offer - especially if you know the company offers below-average insurance rates to some drivers with profiles similar to yours.
It's surprising how easy it is to shop around for auto insurance. Sometimes you can get a quote with one phone call and a few minutes spent answering an agent's questions. It helps if you have a soon-to-expire auto insurance policy. Then you can call agents or brokers representing other companies, and see what they charge for identical coverage. This eliminates the risk of comparing apples and oranges.
In my case, I found I already have a competitively priced auto insurance rate, even though I don't recall when I last asked my insurance company to double-check whether I'm getting all the discounts for which I might be eligible.
One company offering rates lower than mine was the Personal Insurance Co., which offers group rates to organizations and professional associations, including some of those in the federal public service. A company agent told me I was not eligible because I was not a member of any group that was part of the company's auto insurance plan.
One American company that does not offer auto insurance in Canada airs television commercials offering to save customers 15 per cent or more on car insurance.
How about an insurance company that can save you 75 per cent or more? It's out there, if you live in Ontario. But you might need to look hard to find it.
Married couple. Man aged 40, woman aged 35. Man drives 10 kilometres each way to and from work. He's been driving for 24 years with no
at-fault accidents or convictions. The woman has been driving for 20 years with no at-fault
accidents or convictions. He drives a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado; she drives a 2005 Honda Civic.
AMONG LOWEST RATES:
The Personal Insurance Co. $1,281
Primmum Insurance Co. $1,706
TD Home and Auto Insurance Co. $1,706
Motors Insurance Corp. $1,796
RBC Insurance Co. of Canada $1,846
RBC General Insurance Co. $1,911
TD General Insurance Co. $1,917
Certas Direct Insurance Co. $1,924
Unifund Assurance Co. $1,931
» AMONG HIGHEST RATES:
Echelon General Insurance Co. $5,652
Pafco Insurance Co. $5,292
Jevco Insurance Co. $5,041
Zenith Insurance Co. $4,191
York Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. $3,068
Coachman Insurance Co. $3,012
Traders General Insurance Co. $3,012
Farmers' Mutual Insurance Co. $2,860
Optimum Insurance Co. $2,836
Woman, aged 39. She drives 25 kilometres each way to and from work. She's been driving for 15 years with no at-fault accidents or convictions. She drives a 2009 Nissan Versa hatchback.
AMONG LOWEST RATES:
The Personal Insurance Co. $747
Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc.
(on behalf of Ontario Mutuals) $790
Unifund Assurance Co. $1,085
Certas Direct Insurance Co. $1,145
Motors Insurance Corp. $1,206
Nordic Insurance Co. of Canada $1,232
Primmum Insurance Co. $1,250
TD Home and Auto Insurance Co. $1,250
Federated Insurance Co. of Canada $1,261
» AMONG HIGHEST RATES:
Zenith Insurance Co. $3,342
Pafco Insurance Co. $3,254
Echelon General Insurance Co. $2,902
Jevco Insurance Co. $2,623
Guarantee Co. of North America $2,060
York Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. $2,003
Trafalgar Insurance Co. of Canada $1,981
Intact Insurance Co. $1,887
Traders General Insurance Co. $1,854
State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Co. $1,836