A few years ago I saw a small classified ad for a Ford Ranger. I was getting into renovating and needed a truck. After I went to the shop and decided to buy the truck I wanted to leave my car for some bodywork to sell it, so I needed plates and insurance to be able to drive the truck.

I called an ICBC broker, answered a few simple questions and about twenty minutes later they showed up with my plates and insurance papers. I had maintained their Goldstar rating, so I got about a forty percent discount off, paying about $90 a month for extended coverage, with increased liability and lower deductibles for collision and comprehensive.

By comparison here in Ontario I wanted to get my 99 Sunfire back on the road after a few months on social assistance, taking the bus, so I started calling insurance companies and filling out their online forms. They all seemed to be in collusion because most of the forms looked the same, including a host of ridiculous and unrelated questions. Several responded with what appeared to be reasonable quotes, all in the area of $90 a month. All asked me to call to confirm the quotations. This started the lengthy process of spending hours on the phone, jumping through hoops, providing my driver’s abstract and history from ICBC, after which the quotes all went through the roof. One quote went from ninety something to $165.00! Two issues caused problems; one was an accident I had back in 2004. I explained the circumstances of the accident, including the fact that I had a witness who would testify that I had actually saved the lives of the people in the car who had stopped dead in the middle of an intersection on a green light, plus the three passengers I had in my car, all of whom would have suffered serious injury had I not managed to stop within an inch of the other car. If I had not had a bike rack on the front of my car I would not have hit the other car at all.

The second issue was beyond ridiculous. Despite the fact that I had been driving since the age of sixteen, some forty-five years without any at-fault accidents, they were penalizing me for the “gap” in my coverage while I was in Panama. I obviously did not maintain insurance coverage on a vehicle I did not have when I was not in the country, but this went against me. Did they actually expect me to maintain coverage to avoid a “gap”? Seriously?

After hours on the phone I finally found a company who seemed to be a little more reasonable. They understood the “gap” and didn’t hold it against me, plus they listened to the circumstances of the accident and agreed that there were extenuating circumstances, plus it was seven years ago. They quoted me less than a hundred dollars a month, but this was for limited liability and no collision or comprehensive, much less coverage than I had maintained in my life. It would have been a lot more if I had a higher value car or wanted the type of extended coverage I had out West.

After agreeing to go with them I then discover that they want a new safety check, despite the fact that the car had recently had one when I bought it. Fine. Then they want four pictures of the vehicle. Fine. Then they want a “Checkpoint” inspection. My car was at the mechanic’s and I had to renew my licence sticker, which meant I had to have proof of insurance. Then I learn that Ontario requires an emissions test every two years, so I had to pay for that and have the report on file before I could renew my sticker.

My plan was to take the bus downtown to renew my sticker, then go to the dealer to pick-up the car. I asked the insurance company to email me some temporary card to prove I had insurance. They said they couldn’t do that until I had submitted the photos. I explained that I needed to get my sticker and then go to the dealer’s and I would take the photos when I got there and email them to them. No good. They insisted I had to have the photos before I could get proof of insurance, so I had to walk to the dealer’s and take the photos, and leave without my car. I was incensed at such a stupid procedure. Thanks to all the government and insurance regulations, my original estimate of a couple of hundred dollars to get my car back now turned into over seven hundred dollars! Given that I am less than a kilometre from work spending almost a thousand dollars I didn’t have made no sense. I could take a cab every day cheaper.

Compared to getting my insurance in BC, getting insurance in Ontario is a nightmare. Add to this the fraudulent procedure of demanding an advance payment, which no one in the industry can justify, because we are already paying our insurance in advance. I complained to the Insurance Bureau about this process and the response I got, word for word, was “and what would you like me to do about it?”. The industry in Ontario is just begging for government run insurance.

I never fully appreciated ICBC until I tried to get insurance here in Ontario.