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5 Tips to Prepare and Stay Safe in The Winter Driving Season - Do you pass the test?

We all wish summer would last forever, especially in provinces where the temperature drops below zero and we face heavy snowfall for several months out of the year. If you have lived in Quebec, you know what it is to have to battle the snow on the roads.

Here are 5 tips to help keep you safe and prepared for winter driving & a VIDEO Quiz.

1.    Don’t get left out in the cold! Check your roadside assistance plan.

Most new vehicles now come with roadside assistance included in the new vehicle purchase. Sometimes the roadside assistance can last years, and is easily something we take for granted as new vehicle owners. However, in some cases it expires based on the use of the car, meaning the number of kilometers – this could reduce your automatic coverage or make it expire long before you realize.

So the first step to ensuring you have a safe winter season is to prepare for emergencies by contacting your roadside assistance provider and making sure your coverage is in place.

If it is not, Aviva Canada and Intact insurance both offer special deals with their insurance policies for roadside assistance.

CAA also has alliances with some insurance companies which can get you the coverage for free (for new clients) and offer a discount on insurance for others.

So make sure  you are covered so that if you get stranded on the side of the road, you’ll have help and spend as little time as possible out in the cold.

2.    Winter Tires – Why  are they important?

According to Transports Quebec  a study in 2005 showed that 38% of accidents that occurred on the road involved at least one vehicle with all season tires, vs. winter tires.  Therefore since 2008, in Quebec, it is a law to equip your vehicle with Winter tires from December 15th to March 15th – the winter driving season. Want more info on Winter Tires? Check out this post where I cover all the details.

3.    Avoid Gas-Line Freeze up - Keep your Gas tank At Least Half Full.

According to CAA, keeping your gas tank at least half full reduces condensation that can cause gas line freeze up. Besides preventing this inconvenient situation, it also assures you always have enough gas to get where you are going and once again, you’ll never get stuck in the cold. During the winter driving season it is not unusual to get stuck in traffic for hours, or use extra gas to get out of a snow bank – stay prepared.

4.    Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit & Get Winter Tools for Your Car

Keep a roadside emergency kit in the car so that if you do run into trouble you are prepared. Some items to include:
•    A Bag of sand – incase you get stuck in the snow
•    Shovel and Windshield Scraper
•    Extra Windshield washer fluid that is made for below zero temperatures
•    A Blanket
•    A Flashlight or flashing light, Matches, Batteries for the flashlight, A First Aid Kit, A Cell Phone Charger

Note that some stores sell some great emergency roadside kits that even include items that can fill your tires with air, or have flashing lights to use  if you’re stalled. It’s always a good idea to check the options at your local supply stores.

5.    Vehicle Maintenance Winter Checklist  - Keep Your Car Running In Winter!

The following items should be verified because their functioning will directly affect your ability to drive in wintery conditions.

  • Windshield - Snall cracks or nicks in the windshield can often spread or get worse in the cold weather.

Did you know some insurance companies will repair your glass for free if there is a small chip or crack in it?

If you have a small nick or chip in the glass or a hair line crack, call your insurance to see if they offer this special coverage on your policy- you may be surprisd to find out they will take care of it for you with no deductible or consequence if it is your first incident!

  • Winter wipe blades & Windshield fluid - make sure they are winter ready - a clear windshield will help you significantly when weather conditions are bad
  • Vehicle lights - make sure they are all working properly
  • Tread on tires
  • Check the battery
  • Check your antifreeze level
  • Also verify critical winter car functions like the thermostat, heater, brakes and defroster.

Best Driving Practices in Winter to Stay Safe : Video QUIZ

Think you’re ready for safe winter driving, check out this awesome video for a True or False Quiz!

That's my list, what are your best tips for winter driving safety?


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How to Save Money On Insurance When You Put Your Car in Storage

Winter Storage & Saving Money on Your Car Insurance

When people are not driving their cars, they sometimes think that it is a good idea to cancel their insurance and just buy new insurance when they decide to drive again. What most people don't know is that they don't need to cancel their policy to save money or get money back for the period the car is stored.

When is Storing A Vehicle A Good Plan?

  • If you have a "summer only" car, like a sports car for example.

  • Specialty or Antique Vehicles

  • Going out of the country to travel or work for several months, or for "Snow birds" in the winter months

  • If you prefer not to drive in harsh winter conditions

Don't Cancel Your Policy! Put it on "Hold."

Cancelling a policy is not a good idea when a car is in storage, here’s why

  • It will cost you time and money: You will receive a penalty for cancelling your policy mid-term. You will also create a gap in your car insurance history and make the process much longer when you want to insure your vehicle again.
  • When you cancel an insurance policy but still own the vehicle, you are still liable for the vehicle or any damage that may occur as a result of your ownership of the vehicle. A car does not have to be driven to cause damage!
  • When you cancel a policy, you also cancel the coverage for physical damage to the vehicle. So if someone scrapes your car, does a hit and run, steals your car, etc. You will not be covered if you cancel your policy.

A Winter Storage endorsement is the best alternative to save money and protect your car.

In Quebec, we offer a winter storage endorsement QEF16/QEF17.  In other provinces or places, there may be similar programs - please contact your insurer or broker to find out how you can save money or if there are similar programs available.*

The QEF 16 endorsement can be added at any time, and at the end of a storage period, it is ended based on your request, with a QEF 17.  This endorsement allows for a  reimbursement or reduction of the premium for the timeline where the vehicle will be off the road or not being driven. Depending on the insurance company, some may even issue the credit to you in advance.

The credit will normally be for the period between November 1st and April 1st, however, this varies by insurer, and of course, if you only put your car away from January to March, for example, it can be adjusted to your needs. The important part is always to remember that once you have advised your insurer a vehicle is in storage, your insurance is limited or suspended, and you are not insured to drive it again until you call your insurer to advise it will be going back on the road, and you need the full insurance back.

Most companies have a minimum amount of time a vehicle will be stored to qualify for the endorsement, this time frame is usually over 60 days.*

How does the Winter Storage Endorsement Work?

•    It normally provides minimal coverage in liability. In other words, it takes into account that you will not be driving the vehicle. However, it maintains a portion of the liability coverage in place for situations where you might become liable for damage caused due to your ownership of the vehicle.

•    It maintains comprehensive coverage. This is the coverage that protects you for damages that may occur as a result of fire, theft, vandalism, windshield, for example.

•    Collision coverage may also be adjusted for the duration of the storage. Collision is the portion of automobile insurance that covers your car when you are responsible for an accident that results in damage to your vehicle – since you won't be driving; it stands to reason this coverage can be limited during the storage period.

Please contact your insurance representative to find out how you can save money while protecting your car during a storage period. You may be surprised to find out how much you can save!


You may also enjoy learning which insurance companies were awarded top ranks by consumers in J.D. Power survey, check it out!

*Please note that insurance coverage varies from state to state or province to province, the information in this article and on this site is given to serve as information to empower consumers, and as a bouncing board to a discussion with a licensed broker or agent that can review your specific needs and explain various coverage options to you. Every insurance company has their own policy wording, in all cases, the policy wording will take precedence over any blog discussions or examples. Empower yourself with information, so you know the questions to ask, and take charge of your insurance to save money and protect yourself!

Summer Fun Specialty Vehicles - The Amphicar Collectible Car

AmphicarAmphicar (Photo credit: Flicktone)

We like to have a little fun once in a while, and what's more fun than hitting the beach - or heading to a lake? How about for a cruise in your car?

It's a car on land and a vessel on the water. "The car that swims"

The Amphicar was built in Germany from 1961 to 1968, the total production was 3,878 vehicles - the majority of which were imported into the United States.

I have to thank one of my clients, Jacques B. for showing me these amazing vehicles, and also for sharing his video, below.

Some of you may remember my post about saving money on new car purchases,  I mentioned there that I would be sharing a pretty cool car on an upcoming article, well what better time than at the start of the summer season, and what cooler car than an Original Amphicar?! 

How do you insure an Amphicar?

It's a little tricky.

Amphicar's are quite interesting because they can drive on land, reportedly to 70mph, and then can transition to hit the water - just like a little boat. For insurance this vessel is a bit of a challenge. When they are on the road they are governed by the laws of the road, but on water, they are treated as a vessel or any other boat, in fact you even require a Pleasure Craft License (at least in Canada) to operate any motorized vehicle in the water.  So the insurance policy of a car normally would not cover this kind of vehicle! You may have to search for a car insurance company to get the coverage you need, due to the nature of the risk, even the best car insurance companies may have a hard time insuring the amphicar. The only way to find out is to call and ask..

*Due to these special concerns and needs, if you are planning on purchasing an Amphicar, make sure to speak to your broker first. In my own experience, I do have markets to insure them, but it is not always a straight forward process, and information such as updated evaluations from recognized evaluators help!

Want to see it in action, then take a look at this fun video (you can skip to minute 4, and watch for about 30 seconds to see it transition from water to land).

The video is courtesy of Jacques B, who took it during his 2011 "Orilla Swim" Meetup.

What do you think? Does this look like a super fun way to get around?

A Word of Caution:

Not all cars are Amphicars - or cars that swim!

Remember the Amphicar is built for water, it is a vessel and not a "modified vehicle" so please don't try this at home kids!

It takes a special car for this kind of adventure!

Amphicars Photo
Photo from unknown origin, found on in an ad for the sale of one of the original 1964 Amphicar 770 The Cross Channel vehicles.
How to Insure Antique and Collector Cars for Less and Save Money - See more at:

Photo from unknown origin, found on in an ad for the sale of one of the original 1964 Amphicar 770 The Cross Channel vehicles.

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Looks like Canadians Driving in Florida Will Be OK

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A couple of weeks ago many Canadians were outraged because suddenly they had heard a law had been passed which appeared to require all drivers who were not from the USA to obtain an international driving permit to drive in Florida.

Finally after much confusion in the general public, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued the following statement :

"During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.

It has come to the Department’s attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit."

This information surely is a relief to many Canadians and "Snow Birds" who were already in Florida for their "Winter Stay" when the original information was released. The above statement was issued February 14th. According to VisitFlorida 3.1 million Canadians visited Florida in 2010. They suggest that despite the statement about the international permits, it is still recommended that you check with your local car insurer before you travel to Florida to make sure you will be covered, good advice regardless of the new law under review.

Driving Out Of Province & Your Insurance

Any time your vehicle is out of your country of residence for more than a couple of days, it always is recommended to check with your insurance company to see what their limitations are (if any) on out of country/province use. Sometimes they just put a note in the file acknowledging you will be using the vehicle out of country or even province, however other times if the trip exceeds a couple of weeks they may decide to add a small charge. Some companies do this after 3 weeks, others after six. I also have some insurers who don't charge anything. Each insurance company has their own rules on how they handle out of province exposure, so make sure to call and find out if you're with the best company for your needs - don't get caught by surprise. You might even save some money by finding out about the options!

Laws are different everywhere, so it's always better to be safe rather than sorry. Make sure that you do not have any issues if you have an accident or claim - always check with your insurance provider before leaving town. 

What your friends companies do may vary from your own - don't take a chance.

Want an International Permit Anyway? 

For those of you who decide you want to get an International Permit anyway, it's not difficult or that big a deal.

For all the hassle of following what the Floridians will be doing with this law, you may want to consider just picking one up. You have to be 18 to get one, with a valid canadian drivers license. The permit costs $25. You can contact CAA to find out more.

For people who are currently out of Canada, like our many residents currently in Florida, you can also request one by mail! CAA is the only organization in Canada authorized to issue an International Driving Permit.

  • Were you in Florida when news of this situation came up?
  • What are you going to do, pick up a permit anyway, or wait for the law to be amended?

How to Insure Antique and Collector Cars for Less and Save Money

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Jay Leno driving up to the Emmy rehearsal 1993...Jay Leno driving up to the Emmy rehearsal 1993 in one of his antique cars, a Hispano-Suiza 8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may not be Jay Leno, but you may have a similar passion for antique cars!

There's good news - the car may be expensive, but the insurance doesn't have to be.

There are lots of options for Antique cars, and in this category, in our experience we can find excellent rates on insurance - and so should you, because the vehicles are not driven much and are usually very well protected and cared for.

Make sure you check for a specialized insurance company.

For example, the ones we use charge much less than our regular insurers, because they specialize in the antique market.

Agreed Value vs. Cash Value (and Limited Value) - It's not as simple as it sounds.

Be careful.

There are also additional considerations that the specialized markets may offer that are more advantageous than regular insurers, like making sure the coverage you get is agreed value and not cash value.

You have to know where to insure these special vehicles to get the best price and coverage.

Wondering what classifies a vehicle into this category?

Here's a guideline.

  1. Age of vehicle - 25 years or older is usually the ball park. However certain models and vehicles may still fit into the collector car category based on other factors like special features, limited production, etc.
  2. Use of vehicle - Annual mileage can come into play with some carriers, however not all carriers have this limitation. Some insurers will look at if it is used in the summer, vs winter - and others have more flexible guidelines. We have carriers that don't base it on any of this, and others that have very rigid guidelines. It's worth investigating, there are some definite advantages to knowing the options!
  3. Condition of the vehicle - naturally to be categorized as a collector car, it should be in excellent condition. Evaluations are not always required, depending on the insurance provider. We have some that absolutely require an evaluation, however higher end insurers that we deal with, such as Chubb may rely on their internal expertise rather than send the client out for an evaluation. In any case, when you have a collector car, it is recommended to make sure you get an accurate idea of the value from an expert.

Here's a great story from the NCIB, on a collector Corvette that was stolen then recovered 30 years later!

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Insider Info: Buying a New Car? What Really Effects the Cost of Insurance.

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Lamborghini's, Audi R8, 911 TTLamborghini's, Audi R8, 911 TT (Photo credit: RGT3 Pics)

Douglas Rice is a small business marketing specialist who writes great columns online. I first met Doug through 12 Most, where he is a weekly author. Aside from being a great writer with strong business advice and a gift for storytelling, he also has a background and an insider's view in automotive sales. It really helps to have some insider insight, when it comes to making big purchase decisions on a new car. I know that when ever I get a new one, I spend weeks going back and forth over what I really want. It can often be hard to decide with so many factors.  You should definitely check out his article: 12 Most Important things to Know Before Buying a Car.

Of course, in speaking with Doug, I mentioned the topic of insurance - this is something that people often leave to last minute.  Although Doug can speak to the tips on what to consider in selecting your new car, I thought I would share some tips to get you thinking and help you out on the factors in price for insurance before you buy the car.

What REALLY effects the cost of insurance?

Please note that  these are general guidelines, but hopefully they will help you on the right track, and will avoid any unnecessary surprises! Because when budgeting for your car, you'll also have to consider your monthly insurance payment.

What about the color?

First things first: In insurance you're the greatest factor. Yes YOU!

So, this variable remains constant, regardless of the car you buy. If you have speeding tickets, bad credit, move often (yes some insurers consider how long you've been at the same address and give discounts for that), where you live (the zip or postal code) and your claims history ( do you have claims?) are the strongest determining factors of rate.

I have seen rates double, depending on the area a person lives (city vs. suburb, etc). 

Let's not forget to consider the costs of young drivers, or new drivers. As well as the use of the vehicle (business, pleasure, etc)

So, the number 1 factor in the rate has nothing to do with the car.

Do you feel safe to just go out and buy anything now? Take a second look! I have a few things for you to consider first:

All things being equal above, this is how the car choice will drive insurance rates upward or downward:

1. Parts - Accidents involve repairs. Therefore, if the make of the car has higher than average costs on parts and/or labor, this is going to be factored into the insurance rate. 

2. Parts- Again : Often times vehicles that are extremely popular - one unusual example I can give, were certain mini vans, at one time they had high theft rates. Why? As I understand it, it wasn't just because they were reliable vehicles, and it certainly wasn't because they were flashy. It was because of the parts. They were so popular, that parts were in high demand, so believe it or not, they became very expensive to insure compared to other less risky vehicles in the same class. Traditionally, this can effect the theft and collision portions of the premium.

3. Theft Rate - For some insight, you can check out the IBC's Top Ten Stolen Car list or see if your insurance provider can refer you to a similar list in your area or country. If the new car you want to buy is on there, you may have some added cost. This is used as a factor in determining the price of insurance. Obviously the greater the risk, the more the insurance will cost. Now with brand new cars and models, the nsurance companies don't always have the exact data on what the experience will be with the car, so they use the data they have at hand to try and determine the appropriate rates. As an example, here is the 2011 list for most stolen vehicles in Canada from the IBC:

  1. 2009 Toyota Venza 4-door
  2. 1999 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
  3. 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
  4. 2006 Ford F350 Pickup Truck 4WD
  5. 2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT 4-door AWD 
  6. 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS 4-door 4WD
  7. 2007 Ford F350 Pickup Truck 4WD
  8. 2001 Pontiac Aztek 4-door AWD 
  9. 1998 Acura Integra 2-door
  10. 1999 Acura Integra 2-door

If you check out the list from year to year from the IBC, you will notice some vehicles always make the list. So when you compare insurance rates, you can bet the makes and models with the highest theft rates, even though they may not seem obvious to you, will have higher rates of insurance on the theft portion of the premium.

4. Power & Interiors - Although you may not think it would affect insurance, the power of the vehicle can cause additional concerns in risk when we look at liability. A more powerful car, can do more damage, travels faster (in general) .  Add to that , the fact that often these are higher end vehicles, the combination can cost more. Usually a 4cyl model will be less to insure than the 6. The interior finishing of your car will not usually boost insurance rates on the same model, but if the model changes with the interior - this will be factored into the rates as well. This can affect the Liability, Collision and Theft (comprehensive) sections of the premium.

5. Modified Vehicles - Including upgraded stereos, bodywork (for racing/style), or power alterations (Usually after market)

Watch out because this is where things get tricky.

Before you start to plan on purchasing a vehicle and making all kinds of modifications to it, ask your insurer, agent or broker. Some modifications are not problem at all, while others move you into a category of specialized markets. Stereos can easily be added for a very small cost, but ahouls always be mentioned when purchasing the insurance.

Other modifications to the suspension, body or fuel sources - even vehicles with steering on the right side instead of the left, can be huge issues. So call those in first! Sometimes a broker can have access to a specialized market for these vehicles, but not every insurance company does.

6. Antique or Collector cars & Amphibian Vehicles


Jay Leno driving up to the Emmy rehearsal 1993...Jay Leno driving up to the Emmy rehearsal 1993 in one of his antique cars, a Hispano-Suiza 8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may not be Jay Leno, but you may have a similar passion for antique cars! There's good news - the car may be expensive, but the insurance doesn't have to be. There are lots of options for Antique cars, and in this category, in our experience we can find excellent rates on insurance - and so should you, because the vehicles are not driven much and are usually very well protected and cared for. Make sure you check for a specialized insurance company. For example, the ones we use charge much less than our regular insurers, because they specialize in the antique market. There are also additional considerations that the specialized markets may offer that are more advantageous than regular insurers, like making sure the coverage you get is agreed value and not cash value. You have to know where to insure these special vehicles to get the best price and coverage.


Same with Amphibian Vehicles

7. Different insurers have different "appetitie's" for cars. As is the case with Antique cars, and Amphibian Vehicles. For example, if we take the same client profile, and plug in a Porsche, we actually have markets who come in at half the price because for whatever reason, they aren't as scared by the Porsche. On the flip side, we have markets who are way to high on that vehicle. We know this as brokers, based on our experiences - so keep this in mind when you check around. Different insurers really do have different appetite's, they do not all use the same rule book!

8. Anti theft Requirements. Find out if the vehicle you are purchasing requires special anti theft devices or engraving. Many dealers will suggest you do this, suggesting it will give you a big discount on insurance. Call your insurance first and find out if you need the anti theft, sometimes it is a requirement. Keep in mind point #7 above, the requirement may not be the same with all companies! Secondly, if it's the discount you're after, find out how much that is. Sometimes the discounts are a mere $75 a year, other times they can add up to a couple of hundred dollars.

Tracking devices can be fantastic , but may involve additional costs to you like monthly fees, other anti theft choices like engraving, have one time costs. Your insurance representative may be able to help you out in this regard. Check before you decide to install anything, and find out what it will really do for you.


The best way to protect yourself from higher rates is to do a little research on insurance with your broker or agent, before you sign the papers. If your agent or insurer does not have access to several insurance companies (one of the benefits of dealing with a broker), then you should definitely call another insurer to compare.

Have the exact model you are looking at ready, to make sure that you've got the right quote. As mentioned in point 4 above, a 4cyl vs a 6 or 8 cyl - or the sport model with that incredible sliding roof, may all be different.

Build Your Dreams - Insurance based on relationships - Ogilvy Insurance Westmount by Mila Araujo @MilaspageNever be afraid to call or email and ask. It just may help make your decision easier, and that's what your insurance adviser is there for! Anything is possible when you have access to many insurance companies and markets, you want to make sure that you have all the information to make an informed decision on your next purchase. Don't forget the insurance!

Oh, and the color?  Well, check this with your personal advisor first, but in experience,  we have yet to see an insurance application that asks for color, so be happy, and get the one you love!

 So, are you ready for your new car? What have your experiences been?


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The Deductible - Saving Money on Insurance
Is being with the wrong insurance company costing you money? Find out what companies will give you for free.
Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 in Montreal, We Love Fast Cars.
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Montreal, Where Pot Holes Have a Home - Your Comprehensive Guide

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<script type="text/javascript">(function k(){window.$SendToKindle&&window.$SendToKindle.Widget?$SendToKindle.Widget.init({}):setTimeout(k,500);})();</script><div style="display:inline-block;padding:3px;cursor:pointer;font-size:18px;font-family:Arial;white-space:nowrap;line-height:1;border-radius:3px;border:#ccc thin solid;color:black;background:transparent url('') repeat-x;background-size:contain;"><img style="vertical-align:middle;margin:0;padding:0;border:none;" src="" /><span style="vertical-align:middle;margin-left:3px;">Send to Kindle</span></div>Montreal is a beautiful city, it captures many of the most desirable qualities of any city on the planet, from a rich cultural diversity to our festivals or the way we honor and celebrate nature in our green spaces and outdoor activities. According to Tourisme Montreal's latest report, Montreal received approximately 7.5 million tourists/visitors from abroad, representing 2.3 billion dollars in revenue.

This is without a doubt a spectacular city to visit and if you have not been here, then make some plans, because you are sure to have an amazing stay!  According to Wikipedia it's our French heritage that sets our beautiful city aside from many other North American tourist destinations. We have so many wonderful qualities as a city - if you want to know some awesome details that make Montreal a wonderful place to visit and live, you can check out this post.

There is however one thing that Montreal is known for that is not as appealing, and that's our outrageous pot holes! Every spring, as we prepare for the numerous festivals and international events, like the Jazz Festival, the Grand Prix, and hundreds of other events (including the #140confMTL - sponsored by Ogilvy & Ogilvy) the attention of the city gets distracted as we dodge obstacles in our daily lives - the Pot Holes!

Pot Holes in Montreal A beautiful City with a few road hazards from the Montreal Gazette


Continue reading "Montreal, Where Pot Holes Have a Home - Your Comprehensive Guide" »

Got a ticket for using your mobile phone while driving? It's going to cost you...

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Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...Image via Wikipedia

It used to be that speeding tickets were the main concern for drivers. Times have changed, and with the rise in popularity of mobile devices we have new concerns on the road. Distracted motorists using their hand held devices have caused more accidents, because of this laws regarding their use have tightened. In Quebec, using a hand held device while driving has been prohibited since April 2008.



In  line with new stats released by Quebec's provincial police force's analysis of the state of traffic safety for 2011,  the number of violations for texting or using the phone while driving still seem to be a concern.  Our attachments to our phones are still creating road safety hazards, and despite the strict laws which prohibit the use of a hand held device while driving, the information indicates people are still texting, talking and driving using handheld devices.

The law is pretty specific, even if the person is not using the phone, simply having it in their hand is reason to get a ticket.

The big question some people have is:

Does this affect my insurance rate?

Insurance companies have not come up with "Mobile phone use discounts" but what many do have is a "Conviction Free" or "Safe driving" discount.


This type of discount reduces your car insurance premiums.  If you are no longer eligible, it can be removed.

So although we can not say we have a specific penalty for people who use mobile phones while driving, in a round about way, you risk being penalized because to have a violation in your driving record for any kind of ticket or conviction (barring a parking ticket) you lose the discount and your rates go up.

Besides an increase in insurance rate, you could also see higher premiums for renewing your drivers license - since the SAAQ also takes into account your driving record when determining your renewal rate.

So overall, when you look at the big picture, you will not only have to pay the ticket you get for driving while using a handheld device, you may also lose demerit points off your license, pay more for your license renewal and if you had a conviction free or safe driving discount before, you will see your insurance rate go up too.

Focusing on the road while driving and using the hands-free device in your car makes a lot more dollars and "sense" not only for your safety and those of others, but for your bank account too.  Don't pay more than you have to, be safe and hands- free.

Have you been stopped for using your mobile phone? What do you think of the law, leave a comment and join the conversation! 




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Winter Tires - Why Bother?

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Winter road
A couple of years ago the Quebec Government in Canada passed a law about winter tires:  From December 15th to March 15th, ALL tires mounted on a  passenger vehicle  must be specifically designed for winter driving.  

At the time, I , like many people who live in colder climates had used All Seasons for years. I didn't really think there was an issue, after all, years of driving with All Seasons, and no problems, right?

10am in a snowstormI can tell you from experience, and as someone who went into it very annoyed at the inconvenience of changing tires twice a year - it is well worth it.  I am a pretty strong winter driver, even on my previous All Seasons I always knew how to adjust my driving to deal with any conditions.  Safety was always important to me, yet I had never bothered with winter tires until the law passed.

Today,  I can't even imagine driving without them. You will feel safer, you will have better control of the road, you will be protecting yourself and your family so much better.

Our climate is changing, we are seeing major increases in the amounts of snow we see and ice storms.  When you drive in snow storms or in icy conditions, do you see people unable to manage the roads, stuck or struggling, driving at a turtles pace simply because they can't get their vehicle to move forward in the slush, snow and ice?  Or maybe, this person is you?

Don't end up on the side of the road because you are having problems controlling your vehicle.

Off the road - Winter TiresWherever you are, if you drive in a region that has snowfall or sees temperature drops, don't wait for it to become a regulation or mandated by law.  

Get your winter tires now, it will extend the life of your all seasons/summer tires, it will give you the control that you need on the road - beyond what you have ever experienced with All Seasons.  It will keep you on track.

Its an investment in your safety. Your regular tires will last twice as long, since they will be used in the conditions they were built for.  

I found the video below from the Insurance Bureau of Canada which shows road tests on an ice skating rink - really interesting.  Hope it helps convince any of you out there who don't see the value in snow tires to give it a second thought.

English: Severe snow rating symbol for car tiresImage via Wikipedia


How do you know a winter tire ?

  • Tires on which one of the following inscriptions appears: Alaska | Arctic | A/T or AT | Blizzard | Ice | LT | Nordic
  • Snow (but not Mud & Snow) | Stud | Ultratraction | Winter
  • Tires on which the mountain and snowflake icon appears.

From an insurance perspective, we are still seeing claims where people were driving without winter tires. At this time, the insurers are handling these case by case. From our experience with our insurers, which include Aviva, Chubb, Missisquoi, Guarantee Company of North America , and Intact, we have not seen any claims denied due to the violation of the law which requires winter tires.  However, in Quebec, it is a law and so everyone here should have them installed. We advise all our clients to have them installed and respect the law.


A real driver is interested in performance, equip your vehicle for winter, you'll enjoy the ride, you'll have better control and everyone will be safer.

Leave the skating on ice or sliding down slippery slopes for outdoor sports and gain control of the road.

Have you installed your winter tires yet? What's your experience? Please share in the comments below and join the conversation!

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Why did my car insurance increase this year? How can I save money?

I had an interesting comment on a recent post, in which I was discussing the value of a broker, using the example of one claims case where our involvement and expertise allowed for over $2,000 more than the person originally thought they would get.  On the post comments, "Emily" wondered why her car insurance doubled since last year.

An excellent question.

The answer to questions like this in insurance are  complex and require thorough review of many "underwriting" details. These details are precisely why a broker can be a handy resource to you.

Since Emily is not one of our clients, I could not pull out her file and give her the direct answer, but what I tried to do was give her all the factors that I thought might have affected her rates. I encouraged her to then use this information to call her own representative and hope that this will help her get a handle on her own insurance and get some of those savings back, or get an understanding of what happened.

So, for all of you out here who have seen a rate increase in your car insurance, or for those who wonder why your insurance doesn't go down every year, I am sharing my response.

Please let me know what you think and what your experiences have been too. After all that's why we are here, to learn, share and communicate together!

Why did my car insurance rate go up, even though I didn't have any accidents? 

There are so many factors involved in rating car insurance, each state, province and country has different regulations and requirements, so I can not speak for the specifics of your insurance, but I can give you some ideas on a general level to guide you.

One of the biggest comments I get as a broker is that the car is one year older   and that their car insurance has increased, yet the value of the vehicle has depreciated.

  • This one is an interesting point, unfortunately despite the fact that the vehicle value has gone down, replacing a door or a car part due to an accident may still be just as expensive on a new car as on a 3 year old car. So the "coverage" you are paying for is not limited to a theft coverage, it includes repairs. 
  • The liability portion of your insurance does not change based on the age of the car, a 20 year old car, can likely be the tool of as much damage as a 2 year old car.  Again - Value of vehicle decreasing, rate of insurance remaining the same.

The area you live in also comes into play.

  • Was there a higher incidence of theft or accidents in your area last year over  the previous years?
  • Maybe the insurance company adjusted their rates because of this?
  • Did you move to a new neighborhood? Sometimes a few blocks makes a difference. Call your car insurance company and get a quote before you move. If you lived in a suburb, then you moved into the city, we often see drastic increases.
Did your occupations, place of work, martial status, age, address, conviction record (speeding tickets etc) change?
  • Some companies include discounts for lower commutes to work (or no commute) There are also charges for change of use of vehicle, for example if you used to only use it to commute to work, then suddenly are now using it for occasional business to visit clients, etc. an adjustment may be necessary. Find out what the reason of the change is, maybe you can deduct business use from your company, or expense it from your work. There may be an option.
  • Some companies offer discounts for occupation, for the employer you work for (group rates) or for having a university degree - if you qualify make sure that discount stays on your rating. If you change employer sometimes it can effect your rate.
  • If you are under 30, some companies offer discounts if you are married, which  bring you to the same rating as someone over 30 .   Some companies also offer age discounts as you get older, or retiree discounts. Make sure you get every discount you are eligible for.
  • Address,  outlined in my point above.
  • Conviction record- if you have many speeding tickets or traffic violations, it is an indicator of the type of driver you might be. Multiple infractions can lead to drastic surcharges on a policy. So nothing else may have changed, but with a high infraction rate, your price could potentially increase significantly. You would also, in addition, potentially lose discounts for being "conviction free" - offered by some insurers.
Did you add a new driver to the policy?
  • Second or third drivers on one car can impact the rate.
  • Young drivers can impact the rates, various insurance companies charge different rates for young drivers. In cases where you have added a young driver, it is worth shopping around because some companies have special considerations which will save you money, where others do not. When your circumstance changes, it is worth asking your representative if the company you are with has favorable policies regarding young drivers.
  • Added tip: If you had a young driver and they are away at College, ask your insurer if they have a "student away at school discount" and what the conditions are. This can often cut the cost in half.
You may have had no accidents, but did you have claims?
  • In our minds, accidents usually involve collisions with something, however there are other reasons besides collisions that insurance companies pay out in claims. A lot of times people forget about these small incidents, but they are still claims paid by the insurer, and may still effect your rate. Besides accidents, did you make other claims for example windshield, or vandalism?
  • Some companies give discounts to people with flawless records, unfortunately, when the person has a claim, they will loose this flawless record discount. That can hurt.
In my experience, the changes above do not normally equal a doubling in rate, so I would explore even further.
  • Is it possible that your insurer suddenly introduced a new rating method, like using credit scoring into their calculations?
  • Did you authorize the credit scoring? If you don't, I have seen companies use standard non preferential rates when the credit scoring is unobtainable. Often approving the credit scoring , in my experience, has allowed for a drop in price by half. Before you authorize credit scoring, ask your representative about the possible effects on your rate. Specifically ask if it might penalize your rate or reduce it . 
The other factor that you may consider is whether or not you used to insure other things with the same company, and have since cancelled them
  • Multi vehicle discounts, and Multi policy discounts can often grant up to 40% in premium reductions.
  • If you used to insure your home with the company and now switched to go elsewhere, the discount you had on your car may have been deleted.

Finally, there may be an error in the rating of your policy.

  • Yes, errors do happen, and often, as brokers, we spend time correcting the document we receive from the insurance company. We have to analyze the file, and review the factors they entered to rate the renewals. We often find opportunity for improvement. Insurance companies usually have machines generate renewals, machines sometimes have glitches and errors.
  • Get your agent or broker or representative involved and you may find there is room for improvement!
There are so many possibilities including regional regulations and discounts that could apply that I strongly recommend with the overview I have given above to  call your insurer and ask them some questions. I am sure they will have some explanation, and perhaps in the process you can get those rates back down.
I would like to thank "Emily" for sparking this post with her question, as you can see there are a lot of factors to consider.
It pays to deal with an experienced representative because there are so many contributing factors to negotiating insurance, it helps to have someone on your side working for you.
The above list gives an idea of the things I would check and where to start.  I hope this helps put things into perspective and that it gives you a starting point to open the dialogue which will save you some money on your insurance costs!