Distracted driving continues to increase each year, so what does this mean for insurance?
A friend of mine told me a story the other day. He said that his Mom called him 5 times in the span of a few hours on his way home to Hamilton from Windsor. He didn’t want to pick up, he was in the car, driving, had some awesome tunes playing, wanted to enjoy his ride home…very fair…so he texted his Mom “Hey, call you later”. Of course, he said all of this very casually to me, without a thought of distracted driving or safety in a vehicle. Me, as an insurance broker, said “Are you kidding me? Don’t text and drive, you’re going to get pulled over, or even worse, cause an accident”
In 2016, 76% of Canadians owned a smartphone according to Stats Canada. Ontario data (Ontario.ca) shows that deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since the year 2000, and in 2013, one person is injured every half hour due to a distracted driving collision, and that a driver using a phone is four times more likely to crash than a driver focusing on the road.
Looking at drivers in the Graduated license system only in Ontario, a G licensed driver when convicted with a distracted driving charge, a fine of $490 is charged if convicted, a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose, as well as three demerit points for each. G1 & G2 drivers face a 30-day license suspension for a first conviction, a 90 license suspension for a second conviction, and cancellation of your license and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction. In order to get your license back, you would have to redo the entire GLS program (Information from Ontario.ca).
New laws are coming out which further increase the fines for distracted driving, making them similar to a careless driving
What does this mean for insurance? It means that with the increased fines and harsher laws on distracted driving, we may be seeing more license suspensions due to convictions, and the insurer’s amending their underwriting guidelines to account for the changes. Most insurance companies which provide automobile insurance in Ontario, consider distracted driving to be a minor conviction, with the exception of a few which consider distracted driving to be a major conviction. However, it rings close to the opposite for careless driving, it is, if not almost, always, considered a major conviction in the eyes of the Ontario automobile Insurers. The question is, with the new laws approaching for distracted driving, will we see a trend of Insurers to shift distracted driving from a minor conviction to a major conviction once the laws are passed? Something to think about, and something to advise our clients on a good way to help control their insurance premiums, and policies for that matter.
This article was written by IBAH Board Social Media Chair, Vince Imbrogno.
Vince Imbrogno, CAIB
Pearson Dunn Insurance
Phone: 905-575-6809 Ext.119
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