Every year in Ontario, more than 50,000 people change their names after getting married. Another 10,000 or so Ontarians legally change their names for other reasons. Without counting people who change back to their maiden name after a divorce, that’s more than 60,000 Ontarians a year who change the name that appears on their driver’s license. If you’ve done so during the last 20 years, you could be paying more than you should for auto insurance.
Maybe you didn’t know this, but your driver’s license number is actually a numeric version of your first and last name, along with your birthdate. If you change either name, you will have a brand new driver’s license number, and that’s where you might run into problems with your insurance.
How does your driver’s license number affect your premium?
When you call your broker or go online for a car insurance quote, you’ll be asked bunch of questions, including your driver’s license number. That number is used to look up your records in two different places. The first is with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), to see how long you’ve been licensed and whether you have any tickets on your record. The second is with an insurance industry service called Autoplus, to see how long you’ve been insured, whether you have any claims and whether you’ve ever been cancelled for non-payment etc. In fact, you can order your own insurance history from Autoplus.
MTO is not a problem. Their system automatically links your old number to your new number. Unfortunately, Autoplus currently has no such link, so if you call for a quote today, and you changed your name five years ago, your broker will give you a quote based on 5 years of insurance experience, even if you’ve had insurance for 30 years. Different insurers offer different discounts for years of insurance experience, consecutive years without a claim etc. Depending on when exactly you changed your name, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings if your insurance representative only has your new driver’s license number.
Most insurers max out the discounts at 20 years of insurance experience, so if you’ve changed your name for any reason in the last 20 years, you could be one of hundreds of thousands of Ontarians affected.
What can you do to get a quote that reflects your full experience?
But what if you changed your name this year? Or five years ago? What if you’re getting married this summer?
Well, if you’re planning to change your name soon, we recommend that you go to Service Ontario first, and order a driver’s history report before you make the change. That will include your license number, along with other details of your driving experience. Then make sure to share both license numbers every time you’re shopping for insurance.
Thanks to Tracey Gilmore, Account Manager at Mitchell & Whale Insurance, for her ideas and input for this one!