How to Save on Auto Insurance

Graduate from University! Or just pretend to!

Ed’s Note: If you’re not interested in Josh’s inane commentary, you can skip down to the “how to save” part by clicking here.

When I was moving to Calgary, I needed to reinsure my car. Sounds simple. After all, I was last insured in British Columbia, where the public insurer, ICBC, made everything seem so easy, and obvious, and no problemo. I miss ICBC.

The insurance companies in Ontario were in the process of jacking up the rates as much as possible before Premier Dalton McGuinty could cap them, which meant that nobody seemd to be available to answer the phone. So the only way I could efficiently compare rates was online, in particular at Kanetix. After much searching and form-filling and hair-pulling, the best rate I could find to insure my car for use in Alberta was over $2,200, with RBC Insurance. Arranging this was a total nightmare too, since I was adding insurance to a car that sat uninsured in an Ontario driveway, had last been insured in British Columbia, but was destined for the fine flat pavement of the prairies. Eventually they managed it.

When I told my friend here in Calgary how much I was paying, he was dumbstruck. He was insuring two vehicles, for two drivers, for less than I was paying. I was sure this was because I had had an accident in 2001.

Ed’s Note: After driving to St. John’s and back, he slid on some black ice the last day of his trip, heading to Vancouver. His car’s thermometer said 8ºC, so he never imagined there could be ice on the road. There he goes, trusting technology over his brain again. When will he learn?

But still, he had me wondering. Maybe I should make a call.

As it turns out, I can get group insurance through my university’s alumni association. If you’re not a university grad, don’t panic. Read on.

Today I called Meloche Monnex, told them where I graduated from, and gave them my particulars. The total cost of insurance: $1,150.

Ed’s Note: Yep. You read that right.

My jaw dropped. But here’s the kicker: they never asked me for a student number, graduation year, degree program, nothing. I’m pretty sure they didn’t contact my school, since it was closed when I was setting up the policy. Frankly, I don’t think they really care. One of the tough things to do in insurance is build up enough of a client base so that you can make money. This is why group insurance is cheaper.

Ed’s Note: And, this is why public insurance is a smart– no, brilliant— idea.

So if you don’t mind pretending to be a graduate of an Ontario university, you can likely cut your insurance costs in half. If you want to know which universities you can pretend to be from, just search Google for meloche monnex auto insurance and you’ll get a whole bunch of links containing the names of qualifying schools. I don’t want this to sound like an advertisement, either; for all I know, there are lots of companies offering similar group discounts. I just didn’t find any.

Disclaimer: Now, I’m not saying that you should lie about where you went to school. I’m only saying that if you’re willing to pretend to have graduated from one of these universities, you might be able to save a lot of money. After all, it’s not like only having a high school diploma makes you a bad insurance client, right?

Speaking of being a good client, I called RBC immediately and gave them a chance to match the price. You should’ve heard the guy asking me if I was sure about the quote.

Did you tell them everything?
Did you tell about your accident in… 2001?
Did you tell them about your speeding ticket… uh… last fall?
Yep. [giggling] I even told them about the one I got in May after I got my insurance with you guys. The one you don’t know about yet.
Oh. Well, did you tell about the gap in your insurance from… uh… December 2003 to May 2004?
Yep. That’s everything. That’s what I told them. They told me $1,150.
Well sir, we can’t match that quote. Now you understand that there will be a fairly high short-term penalty for cancellation?

Of course there will be. And there was. RBC kicked me with a $170 cancellation fee, after Meloche told me it might be “as high as $50.” In the end, I still saved over $800.

Yay Meloche Monnex! Boo RBC! Booooooo!

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