Driving distractions and making your own rules of the road cost



Driving a vehicle takes skill and that’s why in Ontario a licence is not handed to you on a silver platter.

If you factor in the cost of purchasing a car, obtaining auto insurance and licence plate stickers, just owning a vehicle can be expensive.

Add in the cost of getting your driver’s licence, renewing it every five years, gas to be able to drive your vehicle as well repairs and regular maintenance and the cost of driving quickly goes up.

So if owning and driving a car takes up a significant chunk of our budgets, why do some of us choose to make driving even more expensive than it already is?

While these expensive choices eat away at our budgets they are often also unsafe.


Distracted driving


drinking coffee while drivingWith the wide use of smart phones these days, distracted driving is most often referenced as ‘texting and driving’.

Even though texting is what we most often hear about, it is not the only thing that classifies as distracted driving.

Having two kids in the car can be a distraction I will admit, it’s hard to ignore. Sometimes they get upset because I can’t pick up their boot off the floor and put it back on them at that very moment because obviously I am driving.

Anything that you do in your vehicle that takes your attention off the road and/or your hands off the wheel can be classified as distracted driving.

A gust of wind alone could make you lose control of car, even a hands-free device can be a distraction.

Eating, talking to other people in your car, changing a cd or radio station, grabbing a cigarette, are all requiring you to take some form of attention off the road whether it’s visual, taking your hands off the wheel or getting caught up in a thought or conversation.

Sending a text message or updating your Facebook status while you are driving requires you to take your eyes and attention away and your hand(s) off the wheel, and right now will get you a nice fine of $155.

I don’t like getting my cell phone bills as it is, I don’t want to pay $155.00 for one text.

Is this fine having an impact?

As of March 18, 2014 the fine for distracted driving in Ontario will be $280.00. The reason for the increase?

Because as a society we just do not seem to get it, we have become so attached to our iPhone’s that $155.00 doesn’t seem to stop us from picking up the phone while slowing down for a red light or talking away while driving down the highway.

The Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice with no prompting or requests to look over this law decided maybe this might makes us open our eyes a little and put our phones down.

And it should, that’s $288.00, I don’t have that kind of disposable income, maybe you do but is it really worth it?

There is discussion of demerit points eventually accompanying the fine that may also likely increase, again.

The fine alone doesn’t seem to make people want to think about their safety and the safety of everyone around them so the possibility of losing their licence might.

Demerit points are used by the Ministry of Transportation to assess your risk as a driver, they can revoke your licence or make you explain to them why you should be able to keep your licence.


Demerit points


You start with zero demerit points but the more you get the more likely you are to have your licence revoked, they stay on your record for 2 years.

Many traffic offenses are part of the demerit system including speeding and not wearing a seat-belt.

Distracted driving has been the cause of too many accidents, fatalities and property damage and with our technology generation it is only getting worse.


Drinking and driving


Everyone knows Drinking and Driving is wrong. Not only illegal but put the lives of everyone at risk. Too many people still do it though.

Under new legislation that was introduced in Ontario in 2009 you will receive a 3 day driving suspension for your first offense of a having blood alcohol concentration of 0.05-0.08.

A second offense will come with a 7 day driving suspension and you must attend an alcohol education program.

Finally with a third offense you will be suspended for 30 days from driving, must attend an alcohol education program and have an Ignition System Breathalyzer installed in your car for 6 months as a condition of your driver’s licence.


Cost of drinking and driving


Drinking and driving

This is Mr.CBB I’m cutting in Katrina’s post to share a personal story from a friend which is very important.

Besides not losing a life this story ends with a happy ending and lessons learned.

Now the young lady below I will talk about is taking it upon herself to share her experience to help save others’ lives.

Think twice if they will pay to have the breathalyzer installed and removed that’s coming out of your budget.

The costs are astronomical when you are caught drinking and driving let alone potentially losing your life and those you are putting at danger.

A close friend I spoke to told me she paid in total $6000 for lawyers, fines, breathalyzer and a pardon.

She blew well over the limit after a fun night out drinking with her friends and ended up in jail for the night, lost her licence and the nightmare began.

She didn’t know what she was doing because she was so drunk yet the passenger did and didn’t try to stop her because she wanted a ride home. Boy, I hope she got a wake-up call as well.

It could have all been worse. When I asked her the lesson she learned she told me, “take a cab, it’s cheaper and will save your life and anyone else’s life”.

Not to mention losing points on her licence and your insurance premium may go up you have to deal with a breathalyzer and for her it was a year not just 6 months.

It’s nothing compared to what I would have had to go through if I had killed someone, myself or put the families through. It brings me to tears every time I think about that one night that changed my life.

One year of embarrassment and blowing into a machine to start her car but she understood and accepted what she had done and the consequences that had to be paid.

She knows we all make mistakes in life and she wishes this wasn’t one that she had to learn. It’s common sense to make sure you arrange a ride before you get drinking if you plan to drink.

She was young and was out drinking all the time with her friends and didn’t have a care in the world other than paying her bills, working and friends.

She knows this happened to teach her a lesson and to stop her before she killed herself or someone else. Normally she did arrange a ride but this time she didn’t.

She said she knows so many young people who leave the bar and drink and drive. Probably why we see police cruisers waiting outside. People may get upset but come on, they are trying to save lives.

You don’t think how one or two or even four drinks can affect you. “That night changed my life forever”, she said.

It was all the little things that added up she said but she had to pay for everything. The breathalyzer ran her about $100 a month for a year not including install and removal.

“Think twice before getting behind the wheel”, she says.

According to statistics 16,000 people every year are convicted of drinking and driving being over the legal limit of 0.08 in Ontario.

That’s 16,000 people who thought they were okay to drive and put the lives of others at risk and risked losing their own life and vehicle.

Not only are you putting people’s live at risk but if you are dependent on your car to get to work how are you going to get there for the next 30 days?

Do you drive for a living? You may need to start looking for a new job.

If you kill someone while driving drunk you are most likely facing vehicular manslaughter and jail time.


Stunt driving and speeding tickets

I have had a couple of speeding tickets over the years with almost 10 years since my last ticket ever.

As I have gotten older I have realized that I have a lot more reasons not to speed than I do to speed to make it to work on time or rush to an appointment.

Not only because a speeding fine has to come out of your budget somewhere and I am sure most people do not include a ‘speeding ticket’ category in their budget, but for the safety of myself, my kids and everyone else on the road.

If we plan ahead and give ourselves enough time to get where we are going there is no need to speed. As it has been said many times, it’s better to arrive late than not at all.

If you are caught driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit, street racing or driving aggressively it is an offense under Bill 203 The Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario act.

You may face a fine of a minimum $2000 up to a $10,000 fine, immediate suspension of your driver’s licence up to a maximum of 2 years and your car will be impounded for seven days.

A 10 years driving suspension may be enforced if you are guilty of a second conviction.


Our actions have consequences


Unfortunately too many distracted and impaired driving charges have been laid only because of an accident caused or a fatality.

As kids we are taught that with every action comes a consequence. We need to remind ourselves of this often and think about how we do things affects those around us.

If you feel you can’t control yourself from picking up your phone when you are driving then put it in the trunk.

If you are planning to have a few drinks then make the proper arrangements ahead of time for a safe way home.

You are not only putting your budget at risk of fines but the safety of everyone else on the road.

Let’s remember to keep our eyes on the road when driving and do what we have set out to do….drive!

It is safer for all of us and really, isn’t it nice to get away from our cell phones sometimes?

Take a break from Facebook and text messaging and you may find you’ll really enjoy it. Let’s plan ahead, slow down and NEVER drink and drive!

In 2013 the Ontario Provincial Police issued 19,000 distracted driving fines and they plan to move ahead full force to make sure we keep our roads safe.

Will the increased fine of $288.00 stop you from texting and driving?



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How a recent car accident opened my eyes

car-accident-Ontario-pictureCAR CRASHES CHANGE YOUR LIFE


I was reading statistics on car accidents recently that says most drivers will be involved in at least 2 car accidents throughout their lifetime.  

At the age of 31 I now fall into this statistic, being involved in my second car accident just a couple weeks ago now. I am hoping it will be the last.

Being an experienced driver with over 14 years on the road neither of the car accidents I was involved in was I behind the wheel. I was the passenger both times and that has changed the way I feel about being a passenger.

Read on.

My first car crash was when I was 15 and was unavoidable. What happened was that some local livestock got loose from a farm and the dark country roads made for a crummy ending to my mother’s and my day.

The most recent car accident I was involved in could have been avoided and was caused due to inexperience and panicking due to poor road conditions.

Both car accidents have left me a cautious driver behind the wheel but the lack of control being a passenger in a vehicle has left me not too eager to jump in another car as a passenger.

While no one can be truly prepared for a car accident, knowing what to do and how to handle everything can make dealing with the aftermath of a car accident more manageable.

What to do in an accident?

Good question and here is what I’ve learned and hope that it might shed some light for many of what I went through and what I hope no one ever has to experience.


Protect yourself


If you are involved in an accident or happen to come across an accident always remember to keep the safety of the persons involved in mind.

If you or any other passenger (s) in the vehicle are injured helping them out of the car may not be in their best interest.

I had to remind a passerby that if she reached in and unlatched my seat-belt without someone holding me, as she tried to do, that I would fall face first onto a smashed windshield.

I appreciate the thought of her trying to help me but I did not need to add to my list of injuries. If you are unsure whether someone in a car accident can be moved safely keep them calm until help arrives.

If you are involved in a car accident and get out of the vehicle be aware of your surroundings and stay away from the road and oncoming traffic. If you vehicle is not badly damaged and can be moved you may want to move it off of the road.

Even if you feel that you are responsible for causing the accident whether or not another car is involved, do not admit guilt at the scene.

Based on police reports and details of the accident the insurance companies involved will designate who is to blame, if any blame is made at all.

Be weary of other drivers who insist that an accident not be reported to police. There is likely a good reason why they are not wanting the police involved.

They could possibly have no insurance, no drivers licence or may even be intoxicated. Car accidents caused by drunk driving happen often unfortunately so don’t try to judge if someone is intoxicated or not, leave that to the police.

If they offer to have your car towed and repaired, politely turn them down as you’re likely to have more trouble than you thought.

Your car may never get repaired or they may deny ever being involved if there is no police report.


Medical attention


The first question you are usually asked after being involved in a car accident is ‘are you okay’?

Unless there are serious, visible injuries many people will say they are fine. Unfortunately in most non-fatal accidents the pain doesn’t always appear until the few days after the accident.

Refusing medical attention immediately following a car accident will likely find you visiting a hospital emergency room either later that day or in the days to follow.

Seeking medical attention right away is important if you are submitting insurance claims due to loss time at work, medical expenses or even a WSIB claim.

They are going to want to see that you were diligent and were assessed in an proper amount of time after the accident.

I said I was okay after being in a car that spun out multiple times and eventually flipped into a ditch. I did not feel any pain immediately after only to find myself at the hospital later that day followed by 10 days of rest at home meaning I had to take time off from work.

You may want to get in touch with a car accident injury lawyer if you think you will be facing big medical bills.


No fault insurance


In Ontario and many other provinces throughout Canada we have what is called no-fault insurance. This does not mean that nobody will be found to be at fault for causing the accident, it just means that everyone involved deals with their own insurance company.

Though many insurance companies offer accident forgiveness on your first at-fault accident, if you are found to be responsible for the accident your premiums may still be increased.

If you are a passenger in a vehicle and are an uninsured driver or are not listed on anyone else’s insurance policy then you would file your claim with another person’s insurance company.

As a passenger it is still a good idea to get all the information about the car accident including the names, addresses, insurance company name and policy number of everyone involved.

Make note of the make, model and color of vehicle they were driving as well. Don’t forget to write down the other vehicle’s license plate number and the name and badge number of the reporting officer.

If there are any witnesses be sure to get their names and phone numbers. Insurance companies are often interested in seeing pictures from the scene of the accident.

If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera take a couple of pictures of the car accident scene to document the severity of the crash and any damage caused to the vehicle.

If filing an insurance claim do not waste time getting the paperwork submitted. The amount of paperwork involved in a vehicle insurance claim can be overwhelming.

Realistically while you should be resting up as much as possible to recover from any injuries sustained from the accident, insurance companies have time limits on when a claim can be filed.

Taking too long to submit the accident claim may result in little or no coverage.


Loss of income


Any extended benefit plan that you may have through your employer or other means needs to be exhausted before your car insurance will make any payments to you.

This is not only true for medical expenses but also applies to any lost wages at work as a result of injuries from the accident.

Many car insurance policies have a 7 day deductible for loss of income. Luckily I have secondary accident insurance coverage which will cover my lost wages from day 1.

Overpayments made to you by your car insurance company will be expected to repaid if you have other insurance coverage that you did not use before filing the claim with them.

Be aware that you might not get your money right away either so it’s another good reason to have a back up plan or emergency savings just in case. The bills still need to get paid and life goes on while you wait for your insurance claim to go through.


Impact on your life


Whether or not you have any physical injuries after a car accident, the emotional strain that the accident may cause can be jarring.

No matter how long you have driven or how experienced a driver you are they can leave you feeling nervous and anxious to either get behind the wheel again or as a passenger in a car in my case.

It’s hard after the fact to not think of how easily there could have been a different outcome such as a fatal car accident. We were very lucky to avoid any other cars and the multiple hydro poles on that road.

As a single mom with two young kids the thought of how easily I could have been taken away from my kids has been a hard one to get past.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people to varying extremes. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms after a car accident talking with close family and friends may be enough to help you overcome the depressing thoughts in the days, weeks or months to follow.

  • Are you avoiding emotions or any reminders of the accident?
  • Do you have any constant feelings of anger or anxiety?
  • Are you constantly reliving the accident in your mind?
  • Are you having nightmares or trouble sleeping?

Trying to get back into your everyday activities as long as your injuries allow may be hard to do but will be a big help moving on from the accident. If these things don’t help make an appointment with your doctor to see what other help they can offer to you.

Regardless if you are at fault, behind the wheel or a passenger being involved in a car accident it is not an experience you would ever want to relive.

Remember that any children’s car seats that are involved in an accident need to be discarded and replaced and not re-sold. Your car insurance company may cover the cost of replacing them.

Don’t be afraid to keep after your insurance company, staying in constant contact with them will help to get everything resolved quickly and properly so you can move on and get on with your life.

I hope that everyone reading this will never have to use this information although if you are involved in a car accident it is best to be prepared.

What advice can you offer to someone involved in a car accident?




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Reader Question: Do I need a tenants insurance policy when I rent?

fire alarm, fire, symbol

It Pays To Do Your Research

A reader question was in my email inbox about tenants insurance and whether you need it or not if you are a renter.

The most important tip I would give is to read the terms and conditions before you agree to anything.

One thing many of us do is sign on the dotted line or agree to a policy without reading it in full until it comes time that you might need it and find out you’re not covered.

Dear Mr.CBB

I’m moving out of my parents house for the first time into my own apartment and was wondering if you could answer a question for me please. Do I need a tenants insurance policy when I rent?

Thanks for any help you can give me.


The easy answer is, Yes. Any time you rent an apartment, condo, town-house or house you need tenants insurance also called Renters Insurance. No matter what you think, you need it and don’t ignore the value of a cost-effective insurance policy.

According to Insurance In Canada, Many Canadians 35 and under don’t have tenants insurance. When you sign the lease you should make sure that you have that handy insurance policy in your hands. Don’t move in and then think about it afterwards. Anything can happen the minute you step foot on a property for the first time.

I’ve talked to a few acquaintances we know who believe they don’t need it because they have nothing of value so who cares or they simply can’t afford it.

That’s the wrong attitude to take because there is more to it than what you own. You need to factor this small cost into your budget as it is a must-have not a nice to have policy. Some landlords are now even requesting that you to get tenants insurance.


What  is Tenants Insurance?


Tenants Insurance in Canada is an insurance policy that protects you and the contents of your home in the event of  fire, theft, damage etc.

It may also include the belongings in your vehicle due to theft or a break and enter. I also found out it may cover your property if you are a student away from home, upgrades made to a rental unit or potential living expenses if you need accommodations due to an insurable claim, according to Insurance in Canada.

Don’t forget about public liability another reason why it’s so important to have tenants insurance.

Did you know that your landlord/building owner is not obligated in any way to aid you if there was to be an emergency such as a fire in your unit or home which caused damage to your apartment even worse the entire building or complex?

Your landlord/building owner is also not liable if someone were to break into your home. You as a renter are not covered under your landlord/building owners insurance policy. This was something that I would have never thought of living in a new country but later learned.

When I purchased my first flat or apartment whichever takes your fancy, the main property was insured by the company owning the freehold. Even so, I still had to buy separate buildings and contents insurance for my portion.

There was an instance in the same area where all the leasehold tenants bought out the freehold and split the buildings insurance costs between them by covering the whole building leaving them with just separate contents insurance to pay for.

It just goes to show that when people unite they can achieve something for the good of the group rather than just looking out for number one. Power to the people.

Although rare, this instance was in the UK and I cannot verify that this scheme would work in the same manner in Canada.


True Story


Our mate went to work one day and forgot to blow out a candle that was lit. His pet knocked the table and the candle fell over. Needless to say the fire department was dispatched to his apartment building and the fire was put out.

Although the table was cheap and damaged beyond repair many lives were at risk, the pet was at risk as well as extensive damage to an entire building.

If you don’t have tenants insurance others may come after you for money. You may also be on the hook if a guest or visitor slips and falls and injures themselves while inside your residence.

  • Can you replace all of your belongings?
  • Can you cover the loss of any other tenants?

No, then keep reading……


Why Should You Have Tenant Insurance?


You should have Tenant Insurance for 2 main reasons in my opinion or at least this is what would scare me enough to get it.

Liability, Personal Liability

As described above in the event a guest gets injured inside your own living area and decide to bring you to court and sue it’s best to be covered.

If you lose you may be on the hook for court fees and settlement fees. You don’t want to be paying out-of-pocket for these charges.

Your entire financial world can be turned upside down in an instant. This may also protect you or a guest in case damage is caused to the building not only your apartment but to the entire building.


Contents Insurance/Coverage


This coverage is mainly to cover the contents of your rental unit and lets you replace or repair your possessions if they were damaged, lost or stolen in the event of an insured incident.

It’s always best to read over your policy so you are aware of what is and what is not covered and any limits. You can insure the contents of your rental for replacement cost including depreciation or you can also insure the contents for full replacement value.

Obviously the price may go up with full replacement value and I’d keep all receipts as well.

Contents insurance also covers property that is not in your home but in your vehicle as it is considered by most insurance companies a “property” and most auto insurances will not cover things like a stolen wallet, CD’s  DVD’s, Cell phone, Laptops, Netbooks, E-readers etc.


How To Provide Proof Of Contents?


Below are some tips on what we do as home-owners so we are protected and keep these important documents in a fire-proof box which you can do as a renter as well:

  • Take Pictures of our belongings
  • Take a Home Contents Inventory of everything we own of significant value
  • Take video of our home including make and model shots of your contents (we don’t do this but in the event you don’t own a camera this is another option)
  • Keep all bills and receipts of products of value that we have purchased

Make sure that you keep all the above in a safe spot like a safety box that is fire-proof, upload pictures and email them to yourself or keep them in an on-line file that is not on your hard drive. What if your computer gets damaged or stolen and all your proof of ownership is now gone? Cash, Jewellery and Technology are HOT items for would be thieves.

Keep in mind if you have a $40,000 engagement ring you will need to disclose that or any other jewellery  or very expensive items as this may have to be itemized and specific to your policy or a separate policy and may have specific coverage limits.

We learned this from a friend of ours had to have her wedding ring itemized and it was something she didn’t know about until talking to her insurance agent especially since it was worth the cost of a nice car.

This may include other expensive items so don’t be shy, ask.


How Much does Tenants Insurance Cost?


It’s important to find the best tenants insurance that will suit your lifestyle. If you want more than a standard insurance policy (we didn’t at the time) you can get add-ons like earthquake insurance, sewer backup, wind-storm, hail and a host of other premium coverages.

When you are looking for renters insurance quotes there are many factors that will influence your renters insurance premium including the neighborhood which many don’t think about.

When searching for quotes we found Insurance policies differ from insurance company to insurance company.

Although you can get cheap renters insurance on-line it’s best to do your homework before grabbing the cheapest policy you can get your hands on. Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean great value.

Typically you will pay a premium that is a fixed amount. Most insurance companies have a set deductible amount which means that they will only cover the cost of an item that is above that amount.

Quite frankly, it depends on the policy you have and the regulations set out in it.

Don’t be shy to ask about discounts through your alumni, your job or professional association like we did. We thought we would ask at the time and sure enough there was a discount for professional associations our agent said.


Where To Buy Tenants Insurance?


It’s also important to shop around, check for on-line tenants insurance quotes, get referrals from friends or visit your local insurance companies, their agents or through an insurance broker.

I used to compare quotes online in the UK but now I do both calling and online. Some other great places to find Tenants insurance and where we went for quotes in Canada is TD Insurance, RBC Insurance and Kanetix Canada  a great comparison site.

We ended up getting an insurance quote by researching through the Kanetix Canada website that ran us about $11 a month at the time when we rented, but worth every penny.

You can also find more information at the Insurance Bureau of Canada another great resource set up for Canadians.

Organize a meeting or phone call to get to know what you can do to protect yourself  and your personal finances with a tenants insurance policy.

Do you have a tenants insurance policy? Have you ever had to use it?


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How Smoking Affected The Cost Of Our Life Insurance Premium

Life Insurance

We all know the health risks of smoking followed by the dent it can put in the budget just to buy cigarettes. Did you also know that it costs smokers more money when they apply for life insurance, like it did for us? Who knew there would be such a significant cost difference for life insurance for a smoker and non smoker as you will later find out. It’s been over a year now that we butted out (January 29, 2102) and are both still smoke-free today. We will always give thanks to all the support along the way from not only each other but external motivation such as family, friends, our family doctor, the pharmacy team and of course The Smokers Helpline.

The Smoking Memory

As time went on smoking became less of a habit for us and more of a memory and now we don’t even think about it. We won’t lie and say that if someone sparks up a smoke that the smell is captivating because it still is. We smoked for quite a long time and every smoker knows that the first inhale is the best of a newly lit cigarette. When I’m at work it no longer bothers me when I’m yapping outside with colleagues and they are having a cigarette. In fact the more I continue to smell it the happier I am that I no longer have this habit. There have been many times over the course of the winter that we both have been thankful to not have to stand out in the cold just to get our fix. Addicting, you bet it was, but breaking the habit was the easy part the hard part is sticking to it.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

The health benefit was our top priority followed by the monetary gains we would have simply by not having to fork out almost two hundred dollars every month. Over the course of the year that added up to more than a couple of thousand dollars that we willfully just blew away. One motivation to keep living the smoke-free lifestyle is when we see friends who smoke and their constant “need” to have one. We can see how the addiction can take over someone’s life like it did ours. We don’t talk about quitting smoking to those that smoke unless they bring it up. Honestly, when we smoked we knew what we were doing, we’re not idiots and neither are those that are addicted to smoking. I’m sure there are many smokers online who are going to read this blog post and wish that they too could give up smoking today. They can, but they need to have a will to succeed and a desire to live. That’s what came over us, not someone telling us we had to quit. I don’t think we initially set out to become a smoker (I mean, who does?) but now know it was a mistake that did cost us in many ways.

The Financial Advisor

When we initially quit we had our yearly review with our financial advisor whom we told about us quitting smoking and our desire to live a healthier lifestyle. He was just as happy as our doctor was about it and not only from the health benefits aspect. He told us that if we could stay smoke-free for one full year that we could be re-assessed and potentially listed as non-smokers. If accepted they would put us in a new class and a new life insurance policy drawn up. How exciting is that if we can potentially save more money? We both started with life insurance about 4 years ago with a 25 year term life policy just to cover our bases in case something should happen. As long as the house and funeral costs were paid we were happy enough with that. We didn’t need to have millions of dollars in life insurance plus we didn’t have any dependants at the time nor do we today.

This was another motivation and what we needed to continue through not smoking or wanting to pick one up and light it throwing all our hard work down the toilet. It only takes one cigarette to set us back and we knew that so we had to think ahead. It was always in the back of our minds about saving a bit of money in our budget because we are always looking for ways to improve. We had no idea how much we would save so we went on our merry way and waited for one year to pass.

One Year Smoke-Free

One year had passed and we booked our annual meeting with our financial advisor who had all the paper work ready for us to fill out for our new life insurance policy. I’ll admit we said a couple of times that we better get a good reduction in rate with all the paper work we had to fill out again. We were skeptical yet optimistic because we knew that we never cheated, not once. We didn’t have to have any type of testing done although if they required it we would have been more than happy to oblige. In fact we almost wanted them to check because we were so proud of our accomplishment.

Even though the paperwork was somewhat daunting (nothing is as bad after you fill out pages and pages of forms to become a Permanent Resident in Canada) it was so important to make sure that our medical history was accurate and up to date. There’s all those horror stories we hear about people who file a claim for life insurance only to find out something was missing or inaccurate. We didn’t want to be those people so we took the time to make sure everything was correct. They told us that the  underwriters would likely call our family doctor which was perfectly fine with us. We went on our way with the hopes of hearing back soon the results.

Life Insurance and Smoking- The Results!

We received a phone call last week from our financial advisor who wanted to congratulate us on being approved and we are now rated as non-smokers in our new policy. The best part is that the new monthly expense for our budget has gone down so we are no longer paying such high life insurance costs.

Here is the breakdown:

  • To Buy Smokes Approx $196 a month or $2352 a year
  • Smoker Life Insurance Policy: $135.05 for the both of us
  • Non-Smokers Life Insurance Policy: $70.43 for the both of us

Yearly as smokers we paid $1,620.60 to pay for our life insurance policy and the new yearly cost is just about half that amount at $845.16. Over the course of the next 21 years the policy will cost us $17,748.36 instead of what would have been $34,032.60 in premiums. What a huge difference and we were excited to make that change to our life insurance category in the budget. We will take the money that we are saving from our life insurance and put it in our savings account for now. We may just use it as our “rendezvous money” as one of my fans suggests to do with money we don’t spend each month in our grocery budget. That sounds like a plan and that way when we save enough money we can treat ourselves to a trip back to Europe to travel and see family.

Sometimes it’s the small things we don’t think about that add up in a big way for the budget. It truly was a lifestyle change for love, health and money for us. Although quitting smoking is not as simple as it sounds even if we made it seem that way, it’s not. I can only hope that those that do smoke make the decision to quit for their own personal reasons. They may also save money not only from not buying cigarettes but see the cost of their own life insurance policy go down.

Have you quit smoking and received a reduction in your life insurance premium?

What motivates you to stay smoke-free?

You can read our Quit Smoking Series Below

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12 Ways to Save Big Money on Car Insurance

Do you see a lot of car insurance ads on tv? Do you get confused wondering if you are getting the best rate for your vehicle?  My husband says there must be a lot of money in car insurance for the insurance companies to keep putting out so many ads.

Car insurance is one expense that many people pay more for than they need to.  What would it take for you to change your car insurance company?  Would you make a change if you could save several hundred dollars a year?  It is definitely worth your time to look into it.

Where should you start looking for a Car Insurance Company?

You can get free insurance quotes for the price of a phone call or search on the internet.  Start your list with a basic search for car insurance on Kanetix where you can compare insurance quotes.

Ask your friends, family, and co-workers if they are happy with their car insurance company and agent. Local agents can be very helpful if you have to make a claim and certainly don’t mind referrals.  I’d say to compare a minimum of 3 companies with your current one, but the more you contact the better your savings potential will be.

According to Canada Trust Many Things affect your Car Insurance Premium

  • Driving History
  • Type of vehicle you drive
  • What the vehicle is used for?
  • Your Location
  • How many people will drive the vehicle?
  • What you chose as coverage
  • Industry related factors such as markets, inflation, taxes and regulations

As you get quotes and information from various insurance companies, you will want to organize your notes on a spreadsheet or on a paper version.

Information to Include:

  • Company Name
  • Address
  • Email Address
  • Phone number
  • Name of the agent you talked to
  • Price/Quote
  • URL of the company website
  • Leave space to add comments to emphasize the positives and negatives of each company.  Include another space for questions you have for that company if you call them back.  I highlight questions to make sure I can see them at a glance when talking on the phone to an agent.

Tip: Always ask what discounts the company offers-for example State Farm has a Steer Clear Drivers Program you may be eligible to take part in and receive a discount. You may also find that belonging to a professional association or College or University Alumni gets you a better premium.

Here are 12 points including some questions you may want to ask your insurance agent to help you save Big Money!

  1. Are you Accident Free?  A good driving record with few or no previous accidents may get you a great rate.  Don’t lie about anything on your application, like marital status or who will drive the car. They have ways of checking your information.
  2. Is your Vehicle a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle? Ask if you get a discount for driving a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle.
  3. Which of my vehicles will be the cheapest premium for my teen driver? If you have a teen driver or young adult driver, ask which vehicle would be the lowest to insure if the young driver uses it as their primary vehicle.
  4. What is the difference in price between different deductibles? Many companies have the option to change your deductible from anywhere up to $1000. This means if anything were to happen  and it was covered under your policy you would pay the first $1000. The higher your deductible the lower your rate potentially could be.
  5. Do you have any Anti-Theft Devices? If the car doesn’t have them when you buy it, you can sometimes install some after purchase to get an extra discount. Always consult your insurance company first as not all companies allow this as they maintain it must be purchased factory direct.
  6. How Many Miles You Drive Per Week? Be sure to let the insurance company know how many miles you drive that particular vehicle on average each week.  Ask how many fewer miles you would need to drive to qualify for a lower rate.  You might be able to carpool or take public transportation a couple of days a week to qualify for this.
  7. Which car is best for long commutes to work? If you have more than one car, ask which one would get the best rate for your daily commute.  Sometimes switching vehicles can make a fairly big difference overall.  Generally a newer car will cost more to insure, so driving an older car the longer distance makes sense. If you plan to insure more than one vehicle with the company, find out which arrangement of miles per week per car gives the lowest total bill for insurance.
  8. Do you have Good Grades? Some insurance companies even offer you a discount for good grades. See working hard in school may pay off after all. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  9. Defensive Driving Class Young Drivers or Graduated Licensing- You may be eligible for a discount if you are or have completed the Ontario’s Graduated Licensing System with a clean driving record. If you have completed an Ministry of Transportation qualified driving course you may qualify for discounts.
  10. Are you Retired? If you are a retiree you may be eligible for a discount with your insurance company. Make sure to ask about what you need in order to qualify for this discount if it is offered.
  11. Will a Multi-Vehicle or Product discount lower the rate? Most companies will give you a better overall deal if you also switch your house, rental or life insurance to their company.  If you have a boat, you will usually get your best boat insurance deal with a bundle that includes your car and house.  The more policies you can include in the bundle, the more you can save.  It’s extra work, but it often yields significant savings.
  12. Will buying a certain model or color vehicle give me a better rate? When you buy a new car, be sure to check the insurance rates on the various models you are thinking about buying. The cost difference of insurance between difference vehicles can be significant.

When you narrow down your choices to two or three insurance companies, you can make your final selection on whatever basis you like. However, the agent who consistently returns your phone calls or email messages quickly and seems happy to answer your questions should get strong consideration, in my opinion.  If you are considering companies with local agents, the deciding factor between similar bottom lines could be how comfortable you are with the agent.

You don’t need to wait until your current policy expires or is almost expired to switch to a new company. The old company will refund to you what you already paid; pro-rated to how many days are left on your policy with them. So don’t let that hold you back. You can even let your new insurance company coördinate it all; they often will take care of most of it for you.

Then you can sit back and let your research pay off. You’ll reap those savings year after year without any additional work. After some years you might want to check around to see if you can find a better deal at that time, but often you won’t need to change if you did good research in the first place. We did this about 25 years ago and nobody has been able to give us a better deal yet. Twenty-Five years of savings adds up!

What other savings have you received from your insurance company? Do you get a savings for paying the year up front as opposed to month to month?

Good luck and I hope you find some big savings on car insurance for your budget!

Guest Post By: Hello! I’m Maggie from Square Pennies, a personal finance blog. I write for anyone who likes to save money. I love family, friends,nature and not wasting resources.  I invite you to visit Square Pennies where my motto is:  Save Money; Cook Great; Have Fun! You can live well on a budget!

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