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How your driver's record affects your insurance

September 7th, 2022  |  Auto Insurance

Your driving record provides a snapshot of your driving history.

Insurers use it to gauge the likelihood of a claim in the future. As a result, it affects your premium. A poor driving record means higher rates. Conversely, a clean record means better premiums.

What is your driving record in Ontario?

This is your record as a licensed driver in the province. Generally, it includes tickets, the type of driver’s licence you have, demerit points and a record of accidents and convictions.

Often the terms driving record and driver abstract are used interchangeably. But there are many different types of driving records. Others include your licence history, 5-year driver licence history and extended driver record. Uncertified records meet most people’s needs. A certified record has an embossed seal from the Ministry of Transportation and is usually only required for legal reasons. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Types of driving records

There are several types of driving records, and each serves a different purpose. Each contains different information. ServiceOntario lists the following types you can request:

  • 3-year uncertified/certified driver record: Used when an employer or other party requests a copy of your driving record.
  • Driver licence history: This is what your insurance company uses when it requests a copy of your driving record. It also confirms completion of driver’s ed.
  • 5-year uncertified driver record: Insurers use it to confirm driving history.
  • 5-year certified driver record: Required if you apply to drive in a province outside of Ontario.
  • Extended driver record search: A supporting document used in court.
  • Complete driver record: Often requested by insurance providers.
  • Driver licence check: Confirms your driver’s licence is valid.
  • Driver confirmation letter: Used when applying to drive outside of Ontario.

Anyone can order a 3-year driver record if they provide a driver’s licence number. A driver’s licence history can only be ordered by the driver themselves or by a Canadian law enforcement agency.

An uncertified record costs $12, while a certified record is $18. For a complete driver record, an uncertified record costs $48 (most common) and a certified record is $54. They can be ordered in person at any ServiceOntario location, by mail, fax or online.

Driver identification details

Both uncertified and certified records include the following:

  • Your name (as it appears on the driver’s licence)
  • driver’s licence number
  • date of birth
  • sex
  • height
  • licence class, for example G or M
  • expiry date
  • status, for example, licensed, unlicensed, suspended
  • earliest licence date available
  • conditions and endorsements, for example, requirement to wear glasses or contact lenses to drive, ability to drive a vehicle with airbrakes

What’s in a 3-year record?

This type of driver record – often referred to as a driver abstract - includes:

It doesn’t include:

  • driver’s address (for privacy reasons)
  • Ontario beginner driver’s ed completion
  • expired medical suspensions

It also excludes tickets for non-moving violations – such as parking tickets and not having proof of insurance – or any criminal convictions beyond driving, which do not have an impact on car premiums.

A five-year uncertified record is often used when an insurer requests more information about your driving history.

Driver’s licence history

This includes the following information:

  • your driver identification details
  • Ontario beginner driver’s ed completion
  • all licence replacements, renewals and class changes, for example G2 to G
  • past and current residential addresses when you order online or by fax or mail

It doesn’t include:

  • demerit point total
  • conviction and suspension information
  • past and current residential addresses when you order in-person for immediate delivery

Complete driver record:

Commonly requested by insurers, it includes:

  • Your driver identification details
  • demerit point total
  • all convictions, suspensions and reinstatements under the Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code of Canada for as far back as available
  • all collisions
  • all residential addresses recorded
  • driver’s licence replacements, renewals, class changes and any other changes

How does your record impact car insurance rates?

Because a driving record can be an accurate determinant of the types of claims a person is going to make, auto insurers use the information to calculate premiums. Violations, depending on the severity, stay on the driver’s abstract at different lengths of time, which have a corresponding impact on auto insurance premiums.

Speeding tickets, distracted driving, and other moving violations, for example, remain on the record for three years. At-fault collisions are reflected for only three years but can affect insurance costs for up to five years. DUI convictions, meanwhile, stay on a person’s driving history for between six and 10 years, but some insurance companies may provide motorists who maintain a clean record for six to eight years standard rates.

Additionally, motorists with accident forgiveness plans can have their first driving infractions excluded from their records, thereby having no effect on their car premiums. Repeat offences, however, could affect rates or your insurer could decide to drop you altogether.

How to improve your driving record

The bottom line is a bad driving record will affect your insurance. But there are steps you can take to improve it which will eventually lower your premiums. These include:

  • Taking a driver safety course: Some insurance companies offer discounts to policyholders who have completed driver’s ed.
  • Paying out of pocket: If you can afford to, pay for damages to avoid filing claims, which can push up premiums.
  • Using public transit. Lower mileage reduces the likelihood of accidents.
  • Remove high-risk drivers from your insurance policies.
  • Shopping around: Different insurers offer different rates.
  • Waiting it out. Driving infractions do not stay on your record permanently.

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