It’s an annual requirement for all vehicle owners and drivers whether they have a commercial auto insurance policy or a private-passenger one: renewing their policies.

You might have many questions about what to do and when or why. Don’t let it frustrate you! We’ve got the answers you need and can quickly get you the affordable coverage you want.

Let’s shift gears and drive headlong into what you need to know:

When Do I Need to Renew My Commercial Auto Policy?

Almost all commercial auto insurance policies expire and need to be renewed annually. A commercial auto policy is a contract between you and your insurance provider that is valid for 12 months. For example, if your policy started on February 1, 2023, it will expire on February 1, 2024.

Tips for renewing commercial auto insurance

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Typically, you’ll receive a notice via email from Zensurance 90 days before your policy’s expiration date advising you your commercial auto policy is due for renewal. 

Does Commercial Auto Insurance Renew Automatically?

Some commercial auto insurance policies automatically renew, and some do not. Either way, you will be notified when your existing policy will expire. 

If your policy automatically renews, your notice will advise you on what to do if you wish to change it before it does. If you do nothing, the policy will be renewed on the due date, and you will be charged for the new policy.

If your policy does not automatically renew, it will expire on the due date, and you will be without insurance coverage on your business vehicle (Note: it is illegal in Canada to operate any motor vehicle – commercial or private – without a valid auto insurance policy). To avoid a lapse in your insurance coverage (which can make getting a new policy more expensive), you need to contact Zensurance to review and renew your policy before the expiration date.

What Affects the Price of Commercial Auto Insurance?

Many factors influence the cost of auto insurance, whether the coverage is for a commercial or private-passenger vehicle. Some factors you can control, others you cannot. Here are the things that affect the price of auto insurance:

  • Your driving record, age, gender, driving experience and insurance claim history
  • The type of vehicle you own and drive, its age and safety features
  • Your location
  • Whether your vehicle is typically parked in a private garage, on your private property, or a public street or parking lot
  • How many kilometres you drive each year
  • How many drivers use the vehicle, their ages, genders, and driving experience, and what their driving records show
  • Inflation
  • Insurance fraud
  • In some provinces, what your or your business’s credit score is
  • Adding new drivers to your commercial vehicle
  • Traffic ticket convictions or at-fault accidents
  • Increasing your insurance coverage limits or adding an optional type of coverage, such as comprehensive insurance (covers repairing or replacing your vehicle if damaged by fire, natural disasters, falling and flying objects, vandalism or theft)
  • The deductibles you select

8 Things to Consider Before Renewing A Commercial Auto Insurance Policy

Here are eight things to consider before renewing your commercial auto insurance policy:

1. Assess Your Coverage Requirements

Think about your business vehicle, its age and value. For example, if it’s 10 years or older, is it worthwhile to include optional collision or upset coverage if you get into an accident where you are deemed to be at fault? (Collision coverage involves your insurer paying to repair or replace your vehicle following an accident if you’re at fault, minus a deductible). 

Also, think about your driving habits and requirements. Are you logging more kilometres annually than you expected or think you will in the year ahead? The more kilometres you rack up, the greater your risk of getting into an accident.

2. Your Policy’s Coverage Limits

All insurance policies have coverage limits, which is the maximum amount of money your insurer will pay you for insurable damages or losses after you file a claim. You can choose how much coverage your policy has (the higher the coverage limit, the more expensive the policy will be).

For commercial auto insurance policies, you can typically choose to have $500,000, $1 million, or $2 million worth of coverage. Choose carefully! If you get into a collision that is your fault, and you destroy someone’s vehicle or severely injure them, the cost of paying for their damages, injuries and rehabilitation can be staggering, especially if they sue you.

3. Your Deductibles

All commercial auto insurance policies include deductibles. A deductible is the amount of money you must pay after filing a claim before your insurance provider pays. 

You can select the amount of deductible you’re willing and able to pay. You can set your deductibles at $500 or $1,000 (Tip: generally, the higher the deductible, the cheaper your insurance policy will be).

4. Your Driving Record

Check your driving record to see what it shows (all insurance companies will before selling you a policy). 

Are there any moving traffic convictions, like speeding or dangerous driving? Did you get into a fender-bender, whether it was your fault or not? Did you rack up any demerit points? Things like these will almost certainly increase the cost of commercial auto insurance. 

If you have a spotless driving record – no traffic convictions for more than three years and no accidents for more than six years – it will help keep the cost of your auto insurance low.

Each province allows you to check your driving record (or driver’s abstract). For instance, in Ontario, you can order a driver’s abstract that shows your driving record for the previous three years. You can get either a certified or uncertified driving record or uncertified driving record (uncertified driving abstracts are the ones most commonly used for employment purposes). 

5. Your Policy’s Exclusions

All insurance policies also contain exclusions. An exclusion is a provision in your insurance policy that outlines what is not covered by your policy. Exclusions exist to keep the cost of insurance as low as possible by excluding items or situations that are too expensive to insure, are impossible to insure, are covered by another type of insurance or losses that are avoidable.

It’s vital to understand what you’re covered for and what you’re not covered for so you’re not shocked to learn you don’t have coverage for a specific type of damage or loss.

6. Your Auto Insurance Claim History

If you haven’t filed any commercial auto insurance claims in the last 12 months or longer, it’s to your benefit, as it’ll help keep your premium low. If you have filed a claim for loss or damage, it may trigger an increase in the cost of a new policy.

It may be worthwhile to obtain a report of your auto insurance history through AutoPlus – the same database most brokers and insurers use to check your claims history. It will show up-to-date information about you and the commercial auto insurance policies you’ve had over time, including all the vehicles you’ve insured, the insurance providers who have provided you with coverage in the past, any accidents you’ve been in, and any claims you’ve made or that have been made against you.

7. Changes to Your Circumstances

Did your business move to a new location? Did you acquire a new or second business vehicle? Did you or do you need to add new drivers to your policy? Anything like this may impact the cost of your policy at renewal. 

8. Shop Your Rate

The cost of an annual commercial auto insurance policy varies between insurers, and the price of a policy usually fluctuates from one year to the next. 

The best way to ensure you get the maximum coverage at the lowest price is to shop your rate every year. Zensurance can help you do that quickly and easily before your policy expires by shopping around on your behalf to get the low-cost policy you need from one of more than 50 insurance providers in our partner network.

Even if your policy isn’t up for renewal yet, it never hurts to explore your options by getting a free quote to see if you can get better coverage at a lower price than what you’re presently paying. You are free to switch insurance companies or brokerages whenever you want.

How to Get Low-Cost Commercial Auto Insurance in Canada

Zensurance can help you quickly explore your options to find low-cost commercial auto insurance.

Fill out our online application for a free quote. Let our friendly, knowledgeable brokers search for you, find the policy that suits your needs and budget, and customize it to ensure you’re adequately protected without overpaying for what you don’t need.

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About the Author: Yassin Elsayed

Yassin Elsayed is a Team Lead, Contractors at Zensurance.