Québec automobile insurance market

After many years that saw accident frequency decreased and an average premium paid by drivers across the board that has changed little, the auto insurance market is experiencing an adjustment period. Premiums are rising and some drivers are finding it more difficult to access insurance.

My premium is going up. Why?

As consumers, we all want to pay as little as possible and that’s normal. Your insurance premium has gone up, even though you haven’t made a claim. And you’re wondering why.

Car repairs: more and more expensive

As claims frequency (more specifically collision) and the cost of claims have gone up over the past years in Québec, the premiums charged by insurers no longer cover payouts. This impacts all policyholders, not only those who make a claim.

The Cost of Auto Insurance in Quebec1

- Average Premium (2019): $675 ($7982)
- 10-year Evolution: increase of 2% annually

- Average Cost of Claims - Collision (2019) : $4,988
-10-year Evolution: increase of 32%

Average Premium of other Provinces (2019):

- New Brunswick: $942$

- Ontario: $1,634

- Alberta: $1,406


Vehicles today have become veritable itinerant computers, equipped with more and more sophisticated technology, driving up repair costs. For example, new electronic parts that did not exist 10 years ago, as cameras or blind spot sensors, are now practically installed on all vehicles. And this doesn’t factor in the cost of parts which has increased considerably as well as labour..

Did you know? When it comes to insurance, it’s the premiums paid by all policyholders that are used to compensate those who will have an accident. The greater the frequency and the higher the cost of claims, the more everyone’s premium is likely to rise.

Other factors to consider

To establish your premium, your insurer also takes into account the model of the vehicle you drive, the insurance coverage you choose and, of course, the likelihood of your being involved in an accident. What this means is that the use you make of your vehicle, your place of residence, and your driving behaviors and habits (profile, SAAQ driving record, number of claims (accident, theft, etc.) directly influence the cost of your insurance.

To find out more about auto insurance rating criteria, go on Infoinsurance.ca.

Insurance plan that benefits consumers

In 1978, Québec introduced a blended automobile insurance plan:

  • Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) covers bodily injury.
  • Private insurers continue to cover property damage to vehicles and civil liability for drivers.

The Plan has proven very effective as various stats and published reports confirm. The private auto insurance market in Québec remains competitive, which benefits consumers.

“Moreover, it is generally accepted that, at any point in time, variances in rates between insurers for the same policyholder profiles point to healthy competition.

...Thus, an insurer may be very competitive for a given insurer profile, but not necessarily for another.” 3

Such strong competition in the market is not new. However, it explains the successive drop in the average auto insurance premium observed during a 10-year period, from 2004 to 2014. The average premium has changed little during many years, from which consumers benefited.

Uptick expected

The data published annually by Groupement des assureurs automobiles points to the need for higher premiums, as is currently the case. 

From 2009 to 2019, average claims costs-collision were up 32% the average premium, for the same period, rose only 2% annually.

Since 2015, for each dollar of premiums paid by policyholders, insurers paid more and had to disburse $1.01 (2015), $1.03 (2016),$1.07 (2017), $1.05 (2018), and $1.02 (2019) respectively, to cover payout costs and operating expenses. Given the context, it was inevitable premiums would be adjusted upward.  

Despite this increase, Québec has the lowest auto insurance premiums in Canada (see excerpt above).

1 Groupement des assureurs automobiles, https://gaa.qc.ca/en/statistics/at-a-glance/
2 Including SAAQ's premium for bodily injury, Groupement des assureurs automobiles, https://gaa.qc.ca/statistics/automobile-insurance-rates/comparison-by-province/
3 2018 Annual Report on Financial Institutions, Autorité des marchés financiers, pages 218, 221 and 222 (in French only, unofficial translation).