How to Choose an Insurance Company

By: Dale Goldhawk

Insurance is sold through four main channels in Canada.

Brokers- selling products of different insurance companies.

Agents- selling only the products of one insurance company.

Direct sellers- generally selling only the products of a particular company via telephone from call centres.

Group plans- sold either through the people above or through the workplace, alumni association, professional association, or other group affiliations.

If you want auto insurance, coverage for your home, condo or your belongings in a rental unit, or travel insurance, you will need a product (as they call insurance policies) from one of the approximately 213 private Property and Casualty (P & C) or general insurance companies. If you want life or health coverage, you will need a product from one of the about-100 Life companies. There are compulsory auto insurance plans, run by government, in British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and, in Quebec, bodily injury in auto accidents is provided by the government insurer.

When you first set out to buy insurance, take a close look at your needs. For instance, consider your liability. If you drive a car or own a home, liability insurance will protect you for the liability you have for causing injury or death to other people or damage to their property. Consider your losses if you become sick or die; health and life insurance can protect you and your family against some of these losses. Be careful when considering coverage. For instance, except for Manitoba and Saskatchewan,insurance against damage to a vehicle is available on a voluntary basis. If this insurance is not purchased and the vehicle driver is totally at fault in an accident, there will be no recovery at all for vehicle damage.

Insurance companies are registered with and supervised by the federal or provincial governments regardless of whether they are foreign-owned, part of big conglomerates or mutual and stock companies.

Generally, insurance companies use the same basic policies for auto insurance, since this area is regulated by government, so you will have to look at the details of service and products to see which company might provide you with the best service and options for your vehicles. There are a number of options in home insurance among companies.

Ask friends and relatives about their insurers. Were claims paid promptly without a great deal of red tape? Were insurers capable of dealing with a number of claims during catastrophes like the Great Ice Storm or major power outages or floods? Did insurers offer a range of plans customized to the clients specific needs. Of course, premiums for insurance coverage vary greatly among a number of insurers. No matter what you hear, premiums for auto insurance, in particular, vary by insurer, sometimes by very large amounts. And when one insurer will not touch a prospective customer, another company will accept the client with open arms. It all depends on what an individual insurance company feels is an acceptable risk at the premium price.

There are insurers who will take on unusual risks. For instance, there are insurers who will cover pets including what could be very expensive veterinarian bills.

Insurance
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Insurance