Ontario has about 12 million registered vehicles and only about 11 million people who are currently of driving age. Long story short, if you’re an adult living in Ontario, there’s a good chance you need auto insurance. But you probably see ads for dozens of different insurance companies every week, and they all say that they’re the best, that they offer the best rates, and that they give you the best service if you have to make a claim.
Which are truly the best auto insurance companies in Ontario?
The fact is that more than 50 companies can offer auto insurance in the province (80 if you count local mutual insurers), but they all target different types of vehicles and drivers, so the choices for you will be somewhat more limited. The question is not so much “Which are the best auto insurance companies?”, as much as which are the best for you. Different companies offer differing levels of service if you have to make a claim, and the company that gave the best rate to your cousin may not offer you a similarly attractive price.
Finding the best auto insurer for you is a matter of:
There is a lot of information out there about insurance companies, but there’s no one place to find it all. We’ve tried our best below. Note that J.D. Power only offers ratings for the largest insurers, and we at M&W are only able to get pricing information for the companies we work with.
|Insurance Company||Type of Insurance Sold||How to Buy*||J.D. Power Rating†||Size (by premiums)||Clean Driving Record‡||Medium Risk Driver§||High Risk Driver||
|50 yr old, Toronto||35 yr old, Peterborough||60-yr-old, Barrie||60-yr-old, Kanata||60-yr-old, St. Catharines||25-yr-old, Barrie||25-yr-old, Kanata||25-yr-old, St. Catharines||30-yr-old, Barrie||30-yr-old, Kanata||30-yr-old, St. Catharines||40-yr-old, Barrie||40-yr-old, Kanata||40-yr-old, St. Catharines|
|Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada||Regular, motorcycle||Agent, Direct||Medium|
|Aviva Canada||Regular, motorcycle, specialty, business, ride-sharing||Broker||Large|
|Chubb Insurance Co. of Canada||Business||Broker||Small|
|Coachman Insurance Co.||High-Risk||Broker||Small|
|Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|The Co-operators Insurance||Regular, business||Direct||Large|
|Desjardins Insurance||Regular, motorcycle||Agent, Direct||Large|
|Dufferin Mutual Insurance Co.||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Echelon Insurance Co.||High-Risk, motorcycle, specialty||Broker||Medium|
|Economical Insurance||Regular, High-risk, business||Broker||Large|
|Facility Association||High-Risk, motorcycle, specialty||Broker||Medium|
|Federated Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Gore Mutual Insurance Co.||Regular, business||Broker||Medium|
|Grenville Mutual Insurance Co.||Regular||Broker||Small|
|The Guarantee Co.||Regular||Broker||Small|
|Halwell Mutual Insurance Co.||Business||Broker||Small|
|Heartland Farm Mutual Inc||Regular||Broker||Small|
|HTM Insurance Co.||Business||Broker||Small|
|Intact Insurance||Regular, motorcycle, specialty, business, ride-sharing||Broker||Large|
|Novex Insurance Co.||Regular||Broker||Small|
|Northbridge Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Medium|
|Optimum General Insurance||Regular||Broker||Small|
|Peel Mutual Insurance Co.||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Pembridge Insurance Co.||Regular, motorcycle||Broker||Medium|
|The Personal||Regular, motorcycle||Broker||Small|
|Portage Mutual Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|RSA Canada||Regular, motorcycle, business||Broker||Medium|
|Scottish & York||Regular||Broker||Small|
|TD General Insurance||Regular, motorcycle||Direct||Large|
|Traders General Insurance Co.||Regular||Broker||Small|
|Travelers Canada||Regular, motorcycle, specialty, business||Broker||Medium|
|Trillium Mutual Insurance Co.||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Trushield Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Unica Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Small|
|Verassure Insurance Co. (“Onlia”)||Regular||Agent||Small|
|Wawanesa Insurance||Regular, business||Broker||Medium|
|Zenith Insurance Co.||Regular, motorcycle||Broker||Small|
*Agent = Sells through a network of agents that only sell their products.
Broker = Sells through independent brokers, who also offer quotes from other insurance companies.
Direct = Sells direct to the public, usually online or by phone.
†Overall customer satisfaction index ranking, Ontario region – J.D. Power 2019 Canada Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study. Note: J.D. Power Ratings are only available for companies that got a minimum of 100 responses from the consumer survey.
Because different insurance companies are going after different kinds of customers, there’s no one company that offers the best rates for all drivers. Even if your cousin Joey tells you that his insurer is the cheapest, they may be the cheapest for him, but not for you.
The only way to find your best rate is to get a quote from as many different companies as possible. If you contact a direct insurer or an insurance agent, you will only get the price for that one insurance company. Also, avoid websites that give you automatic quotes based on information you enter yourself online. These are notorious for giving inaccurate quotes, and won’t give you a good idea of actual prices.
The best way to get a lot of quotes all at once is to call an independent insurance broker (preferably one that works with lots of different insurance companies and doesn’t use online quoting). Mitchell & Whale represents more than 40 companies, while some other brokers only represent a handful, and we don’t do automatic online quoting.
To give you an idea of the different quotes you can get, we created six imaginary Ontarians, of different ages, from different parts of the province, with different driving records, and generated quotes for each one, all based on a 2018 Chevy Impala LT V6 4-door (bought new), with winter tires, zero daily commute and 8,000 km per year. The table above shows how competitive different insurers’ quotes were for the different drivers.
There is no iron-clad way to rank insurance companies. Every year, J.D. Power issues ratings based on a survey of auto insurance customers. The 2019 ratings are included in the table above.
While this ranking can be used as a general guide, note the following limitations:
Online reviews are another way to get an idea of the kind of service to expect from a given company. These can also be unreliable for the following reasons:
That said, all insurance companies licensed in Ontario are required to be financially sound, so you can rest assured that they won’t go out of business or run out of money to pay claims. The difference will be in how easy they are to get a hold of, and how much they argue with you about what is covered if you have a claim. Reviews will give you some idea at least of the bad experiences people have had.
In insurance, the name of the game is spreading out risk widely enough so that you never run into a situation where your insurance company doesn’t have enough money to pay claims. Even in the event of a major storm, earthquake or other event that affects thousands of people at once. All insurers that operate in Canada have to meet minimum standards for financial stability, and most buy reinsurance to protect against major events, but if you want to be extra sure, it’s safer to have your insurance with a company that collects lots of premiums.
We’ve categorized each auto insurer in the province as either small, medium or large. This doesn’t refer to the size of the company, just to the volume of auto insurance premiums they take in.
The following categories define different types of driving risks. Different insurers specialize in different types of risks, so check the table above to see which insurers are open for business in your category.
Most Ontario drivers are insured in what is called the regular market. Typically, companies in the regular market will offer insurance to low and medium risk drivers who drive conventional vehicles.
In general, to be in the regular market, you can’t have more than 3 tickets and at-fault accidents (combined) on your record. Tickets stay on your record for 3 years. Accidents stay for 6 years. In some extreme cases, even if you only have one traffic-related conviction, if that conviction is a DUI or other serious criminal offence, that could be enough to put you in the high-risk market.
A conventional vehicle is one that has four wheels, isn’t modified for racing, is not a vintage or classic vehicle, is not right-hand-drive and is not used for business purposes.
Depending on where you live, you may also be able to get a quote through a broker for your local mutual insurance company. There are about 30 across Ontario that aren’t listed above, because they only sell within their local area.
If you have more than three combined tickets and at-fault accidents on your driving record, or if you have one criminal conviction for drunk driving, racing or driving while suspended, you probably won’t be able to get quotes in the regular market.
Motorcycles are relatively expensive to insure because when there is an accident, it tends to result in more severe injuries, and longer-term disability, both of which are paid for by insurance. For this reason, motorcycle insurance is viewed as riskier even for experienced riders.
If you are under 25 years old, or have less than 5 years of riding experience, the list gets even shorter. In many cases, Facility Association may be your only option. For experienced riders, depending on where you live, one of your local mutual insurers may also offer coverage for your motorcycle.
There are only a handful of insurance companies that specialize in providing insurance for non-standard vehicles. That includes classic or collector vehicles, right-hand-drive vehicles and those that have had significant modifications.
If you just use your personal vehicle to go to and from meetings or sales calls, you can usually do that under a personal auto insurance policy. In that case, be sure to let your insurance broker know, but you probably won’t need a business (commercial) auto insurance policy.
On the other hand, if you have company branding on the vehicle, or if you use it to deliver goods, transport passengers, or haul tools and materials around, you will need a business insurance policy.
Uber and other ride-sharing services are becoming more and more popular. But if you use your own car to drive for Uber or Lyft, or to deliver food, then most insurance companies won’t want to offer you insurance. You won’t need a business insurance policy, but there are only three companies that will sell you a personal auto insurance policy for this purpose.
Hey, we’re going to give it to you straight: It will be more expensive than what you’re used to paying for your own personal car insurance, but if you try to save money by not telling your insurance company that you drive for a ride-sharing service, you are essentially driving without insurance, so you better hope you never get into an accident.
Ontario has a long tradition of farm mutual insurers, dating back to before confederation. Currently there are more than 40 mutuals operating in the province, although most of those only service their immediate geographical area.
In addition to farm mutuals, most of the above-mentioned business insurers will insure farm vehicles as part of a larger business insurance policy for your farm or other agri-business.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments below! Mitchell & Whale is a fast-growing insurance brokerage in Ontario, striving to make insurance _not suck_ one customer at a time. Give us a call today to discuss any of your insurance needs at 1.800.731.2228.