Ontarians pay highest auto insurance premiums in Canada, Quebec drivers pay the least: study

Jordan Chittley
Daily Brew

Canadians looking to save money on auto insurance should head to Quebec.

A new study finds that residents of la Belle Province pay the lowest premiums in the country, at an average of only $642 a year. While Ontarians, right on the other side of the Ottawa River, pay the highest premiums at $1,282 a year.

Co-author and Fraser Institute director Neil Mohindra says this is because of rampant fraud in Ontario.

"(It) comes as a result of higher claims costs per vehicle stemming from high levels of insurance fraud, and relatively severe regulations in rate-setting as well as mandatory minimum liability and accident benefit laws," he says in a statement.

The study conducted by the Fraser Institute, a right-leaning think tank, goes on to say that fraud investigators consider Toronto to be the centre of organized crime rings. Ontario announced reforms in November of 2009, but the study uses the most recent price information, also from 2009. The province's reforms are expected to lower premiums.

The study explains that Quebec consistently has the lowest premiums because it has a government-run provider that has a monopoly over selling basic coverage. They also have a no-fault system that prevents injured people from suing drivers at fault for pain and suffering.

However, the public provider in Quebec ran a deficit in 2009 of $2.6 billion and in some provinces taxpayers, including those who don't drive, subsidize government auto insurers to keep premiums lower.

Government intervention is not always the answer, however, as seen by high premiums in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, according to the report. These three provinces rank second through fourth on the list.

"These results are consistent with previous reports that suggest government-run auto insurance monopolies are less efficient than auto insurance provided by a regulated, competitive market," says Mohindra in a statement. "Drivers in B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba should be asking why their governments have eliminated consumer choice and are forcing them to purchase auto insurance at rates higher than necessary."

Average auto insurance premiums by province
Ontario                                           $1,281
British Columbia                           $1,113
Saskatchewan                               $1,049
Manitoba                                       $1,027
Alberta                                          $1,004
Newfoundland and Labrador     $749
Nova Scotia                                  $736
New Brunswick                            $728
Prince Edward Island                  $695
Quebec                                           $642

(Getty Images)