5 things you shouldn’t tell your car insurer

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to auto insurance, but not everything is worth a call to your provider.

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It can be confusing to know what to tell your auto insurance provider and what not to.

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It is imperative that you notify your insurance broker or agent of any major changes to your vehicle, your driving habits, your address or your payment information. But what about things like parking it at a friend’s house for the night? Or let a roommate borrow it for the day?

While honesty is always the best policy in insurance – after all, you’re signing a contract – there are some minor things that don’t need to be disclosed.

You are going on a short trip across the border

If you’re finally driving Route 66, you can do so with peace of mind: most Canadian car insurance policies cover your travels within Canada and the United States. Just be sure to check your policy for the length of your coverage and the limits of that coverage in certain provinces or states.

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That said, if you plan to cross the Mexican border, you will need to purchase additional insurance to cover travel outside of the United States and Canada. You should also let your provider know if you are on a long trip that will keep your car in another province or state for several months. And if you’re permanently moving to the United States, you should definitely let your insurer know, because you’ll need to swap your Canadian policy for an American one.

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Your friend borrowed your vehicle once

One of the best things someone with a car can do is lend their vehicle to friends without a car. If it’s a one-time case and your friend only uses the vehicle once a day to run errands, there’s probably no need to tell your insurer.

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The good news is that your insurance follows your vehicle, not you. So if your friend has an accident while driving, your policy will come into effect. But it also means that your premium will also be affected. So while it might be your friend’s mistake, it might cost you dearly in the end.

However, if a friend borrows your car at any frequency – say once a week for a grocery run – you should contact your provider and add them as a secondary or occasional driver on your policy.

You have decided to paint your car

Have you ever heard the old adage that if you buy a red vehicle you will have to pay a higher insurance premium? That’s not true — in fact, in Ontario, most car insurance applications don’t even require you to provide the color of your car.

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But what if you want to change the color of the vehicle after buying it? You are not necessarily required to inform your insurance company of this since it does not affect the speed or performance of the vehicle. That said, it would be pragmatic to let them know. You will also likely need to apply for a new vehicle permit, as this shows the color of your vehicle. If you decide to make a more complex modification to your vehicle, such as vinyl wrap, you should let your insurer know, as it may make your vehicle more vulnerable to theft or vandalism.

Do you have a dog that loves car rides?

Owning a pet guarantees that your back seat will get a lot dirtier, but it won’t change your insurance premium. Be aware, however, that you are transporting your dog safely while driving. A dog sitting on your lap could result in a conviction for “driver’s seat crowding.” And it could certainly increase your insurance premium.

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If you have an accident while your pet is in the car, pet insurance can help cover the cost of treating any injuries your pet may have sustained.

Your vehicle will be parked on the street during your vacation

You can cross “call your car insurance provider” off the list of things you need to do before you go on vacation. If you normally park your vehicle on the street, there is no need to tell your insurer that it will not be used for a week or two while you are away.

That said, your city may have restrictions on parking in the same place for a number of consecutive days, so it’s best to check all the rules before you go.

As long as you have comprehensive car insurance, you are covered for most things that can happen while the car is parked. This cover isn’t mandatory though (unless you’re leasing or financing your vehicle), so it’s worth checking with your provider to make sure you have it before booking a flight.

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Justin D. O'Neill