Taking Financial Ownership
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Who Gets the Insurance History in a Breakup – The Primary or Occasional Driver?

By Lesley Green

This article is sponsored by Equitable Bank and presented by stnce

When two people in a relationship share a vehicle, there’s usually one person who drives the most. This is certainly the case in my relationship, and I haven’t a good reason why.

As a result, my partner is the primary driver on our auto insurance policy, and I am the occasional. It’s just the way we roll, and it has always been this way. In fact, I have never been listed as a primary driver on any vehicle; I have always been a secondary or occasional driver.

Second to none: It’s your insurance history, and no one can take it away from you

Does it matter that I’ve never been listed as a primary driver? Does my insurance history still count if my spouse and I were to split up and I bought a new (or new to me) car?

It turns out the answer to the first question is no. It does not matter that I’ve never been a primary driver. And on the latter question, the answer is yes. My insurance history will remain intact, and this is confirmed by the Ontario auto insurance rates I got at RATESDOTCA. The quotes I received when I said I have never been a primary driver were the same as the quotes I received when I said I’ve only been a primary driver; it didn’t matter.

It’s an auto insurance myth – that your insurance history doesn’t count because you’re an occasional driver — that doesn’t deserve your attention. This is good news for the growing number of couples reported to be going through a pandemic breakup.

Taking a break from driving too

Not everyone needs a vehicle, and if after a breakup you opt to take a break from car ownership as well, you might worry about having a gap in your insurance coverage. It’ll lead to higher auto insurance rates, right? That is another myth.

Your auto insurance rate may rise for other reasons when you decide to jump back into car ownership (e.g., prices for coverage continue to climb or you no longer qualify for certain discounts), but your premium won’t be higher because you didn’t own a vehicle to insure. In Ontario, there are specific scenarios when a break in insurance coverage can be used as a factor in determining your auto insurance rates, and lack of vehicle ownership isn’t one of them.

Ontario Regulation 664 (don’t yawn just yet) says that a gap in coverage can’t factor into your premium unless:

  • You were convicted of driving without insurance during a lapse in coverage.
  • The lapse in coverage is a result of your policy being cancelled for non-payment of premiums.
  • Your driver’s licence is suspended due to your driving record (and convictions).
  • The lapse in coverage is a result of trying to hide collisions or convictions to avoid paying higher insurance premiums.

One final note about taking a break from car ownership: If you have someone who will let you borrow their vehicle whenever you need it, ask to be added to their insurance policy and then, of course, cover the price difference, if any.

This has nothing to do with avoiding a gap in coverage. Instead, it’s to ensure you’re both protected. Even though a person can lend their car to anyone legally allowed to drive, if the borrower will be using the car regularly, they are supposed to be listed as an occasional driver. If the borrower gets into a collision, failing to do so could result in an insurance claim being denied.

It’s a risk not worth taking. The cost of being added as an occasional driver is often nominal for people with a blemish-free driving record. (A blemish-free driving record is usually someone without tickets in the last three years or at-fault collisions in the last six.) If your driving history is spotty, the situation gets a bit more complicated — and pricey.

This article was originally published on RATESDOTCA.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Equitable Bank. Any information provided is for information purposes only and Equitable Bank makes no representations as to the validity, accuracy, completeness or suitability of any content. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional or undertake your own research before making financial decisions. Equitable Bank is Canada’s Challenger BankTM and has become Canada’s ninth largest Schedule 1 Canadian Bank.

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