In the last five years, did you get three speeding tickets or four? If the Ministry of Transportation has the wrong answer in their files, it could be costing you big bucks on your auto insurance.
Just like with your credit score, it pays to make sure the official record is correct. In this case, you can easily verify the information by visiting your provincial ministry’s website and spending $10 to $15 to get a copy of your driver’s abstract. Your abstract typically shows all the accidents, convictions and vehicles registered in your name over the last five years. Errors are rare, but when they do occur, they can dramatically impact your insurance costs.
For instance, a 35-year-old woman from Toronto with four moving violations —say, rolling through a stop-sign or speeding—would pay $5,075 a year for car insurance. But what if she then fights a ticket and wins? With only three convictions on her record, her insurance should drop to $3,250 per year. If she doesn’t ensure her driver’s abstract is updated, she could end up overpaying by $1,825 a year.
Bob Nichols of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says the responsibility for ensuring your abstract is accurate ultimately falls to you. If it’s not correct, contact the court where the convictions were registered, then submit written confirmation to the provincial ministry of transportation that your record is inaccurate.
Finally, if you want to check someone else’s driving record —say you’re thinking of lending your car to a friend—you can phone your provincial Ministry of Transportation. The process costs between $2 and $5, depending on your province, and you’ll need to know your friend’s driver’s license number. (This is the same procedure used by car rental companies.)
The Ministry will let you know immediately whether that person is legally allowed to drive within the province. If not, hang onto your car, or else risk having it impounded for up to 45 days.
Originally published in MoneySense Magazine in November 2010