How Do Hybrid Vehicles Impact Insurance?

As you search for a new or used vehicle, you might stop and look over a hybrid car. With their sleek builds and high kilometers per gallon, hybrid cars look like the ideal way to save money on gas and protect the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win situation, right?

However, if you have a tight budget, a hybrid’s initial price tag might scare you away. And even if you can afford the initial purchase, the insurance premiums could make a significant dent in your wallet, counteracting any savings you may have saved on fuel.

Just what makes insuring a hybrid so expensive? What can you do to get a lower premium?

Factors Specific to Hybrids

Insurance rates and premiums depend on multiple factors. Some of these factors include:

Labor Costs

Hybrid cars use cutting-edge engines with state-of-the-art electronic components. Because of their complexity, hybrid cars require specialists to maintain and repair these key parts. Some estimate that it costs almost $200 more to repair a hybrid once it has been in an auto accident.

This might not seem like a lot to you, but insurance companies have to account for thousands of vehicles. If each were involved in an accident, the expenses could become astronomical. Because of this, many insurance companies hike up their rates for hybrid cars.

But don’t despair.

As more drivers turn to hybrid vehicles, more technicians will specialize in repairing hybrid vehicles. With time, the cost in labor will drop to about the same price as gas-fuelled vehicles.

Parts Costs

As with labor costs, the cost of replacement parts for hybrid vehicles is often higher than other cars on the market. Compared to gas engine vehicles, hybrid cars and trucks are still relatively new. This means that scrap yards have a limited supply of aftermarket parts. As a result, repair technicians often have to increase prices for used parts, or (more often than not) rely on completely new parts to repair the damage.

These higher bills go straight to your insurance company, so it’s understandable that they’d increase the premiums to cover the costs for a new “replace oxygen” sensor or missing gas cap.

Model Specifications

Much like gas-fuelled cars, some hybrid car makes and models are more expensive than others. For example, the 2014 Honda Insight Hybrid only costs $19,515 (USD), while the 2014 Vokswagen Touareg hybrid costs as much as $64,745 (USD).

While more affordable hybrid cars can have insurance rates similar to a gas-fuelled car, the more luxurious hybrids will have the higher rates. The more expensive the car, the more money the insurance companies will have to dish out to cover the cost of an accident. To cover the cost, they charge higher rates.

Drivers

While some factors increase insurance rates, other factors can also lower them by a fraction. Many people view hybrid drivers as conscientious people less likely to get in an accident. They seem to be more mature and responsible behind the wheel, which insurance companies love. The safer the driver, the less money they have to spend.

Because of this stereotype, some insurance companies offer up to 10 percent discounts on premiums. So you’ll want to keep an eye out for these discounts should you decide to purchase a hybrid.

Factors Specific to You

In addition to those specific to hybrids, the following factors can impact your insurance premiums, whether you drive a hybrid or any other type of car.

Driving Record

Safer drivers cost insurance companies less money than reckless ones because they tend to be involved in fewer accidents. If you have a clean driving record, free of traffic and moving violations, you’ll likely have a lower premium than if you had collection of parking tickets stashed in your dash.

Age

Younger drivers often lack the skills, knowledge, and maturity to properly handle dangerous situations. They are also more likely to speed and tend to neglect their seatbelts. This combination puts them at risk for accidents, which insurance companies frown upon. In fact, individuals 16-19 are more at risk of becoming involved in an accident than any other age group.

However, drivers between the age of 50 and 65 tend to get the best insurance rates. Drivers at this age tend to be more cautious, understand traffic laws, and take fewer risks while driving. This means fewer costs for the insurance company, and they pass those savings back to you.

Coverage

While each province sets a minimum coverage level, it’s up to you as a consumer to determine if you should purchase additional coverage for your car. You could select minimum coverage to lower your monthly rates, but additional coverage could give you more protection if you become involved in an accident.

How Can You Get the Best Rates?

Because these factors play a significant role in your insurance rates and premiums, it’s important that you seek advice from a professional insurance agency to get the best rates and deals. Some insurance brokers can offer various packages that will balance coverage with cost. With the right company, you can enjoy the benefits of a hybrid, without sacrificing your savings to cover your premiums.

For more information on insurance premiums, rates and car insurance in Calgary, Brooks & Medicine Hat call TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd today or visit one of our three locations:

Calgary Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.723.9416

What’s an RESP? The Smart Path to Your Child’s Registered Education Savings Plan

Education, it seems, is an increasingly critical commodity. As a parent, you hear a lot of advice on the subject. Even though all the data suggest it’s time to begin saving for your child’s future education, you may feel overwhelmed. Where should you start?

Before you jump in to a savings education plan, prepare yourself by learning the key details to a successful RESP.

Define the Plan

On a basic level, a Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, functions as a tax-deferred account. In this way, it’s not unlike your retirement account or any other tax-deferred plan. Here’s an overview:

  1. The plan involves a subscriber, a promoter, and a beneficiary. The subscriber is the person who contributes to the account (usually the parent). The promoter is the party that pays the income to the beneficiary, or child.
  2. The plan is registered via the Canada Revenue Agency.After the plan begins, the Income Tax Act limits the total contribution to a $50,000 maximum per beneficiary.
  3. Learning bonds provide for low-income families. This is a supplementary contribution by the government. It contributes up to $2,000 maximum to those families who qualify (e.g., families who make less than $35,000).
  4. The subscriber can enter funds for several beneficiaries.In this way, the RESP contract allows the provider to pay education savings payments to multiple children, simplifying the process for the parent(s).
  5. There are multiple RESP types.You may choose a family plan, as just mentioned, or an individual plan. Additionally, you can decide to enter funds intermittently, monthly, or using another pre-determined schedule.

Understand the Details

Because each family’s situation is unique, so is your RESP. Some families begin saving for their children’s education costs early; others begin when their children are teens. The important thing is to start where you are now.

Did you know that you can make contributions to your child’s RESP up to 31 years after initiating the plan? Additionally, you can consolidate several RESPs even after 31 years have passed. The only stipulation is that your child uses the payments before the 35th year is over.

Here are a few other strategies that may yield greater benefits later:

  • If you contribute $2,500 annually starting in your child’s birth year, you may net the maximum contribution for the RESP by your child’s 18th birthday.
  • Even if you wait until your child is 10 or 11 to start the account, you may still net close to $40,000 for the same annual investment.
  • If you contribute an extra, one-time lump sum annually, you’ll compound the tax benefit.

Ask Good Questions

As you begin a RESP for your child or children, pay attention to the notices and updates you get on your account. Stay involved and up-to-date all along the way so you don’t have any unintended surprises later. Most importantly, ask questions when you’re unsure about the regulations.

Here are a few questions and answers that can help you during the saving years:

Q: What do I do if there are unused savings in the RESP after 35 years?

A: Don’t worry; any leftover savings will be returned to the subscriber. Grant moneys are returned to the government. If you’ve earned interest, you’ll get that if you’re a Canadian resident who opened the plan more than 10 years prior—and if your child is 21 or older and ineligible for educational assistance payments.

Q: What if my child doesn’t go to college after all?

A: It’s possible your child may change his or her mind; you have up to the 35-year limit past the opening of the plan. If your child’s plans don’t change, feel free to transfer the money to another RESP (ask ahead to know if there are penalties involved).

Q: Can I add another child to an existing plan?

A: Yes, but your child must be a blood relative or adopted. Additionally, your child should already be a listed beneficiary in a different RESP and be under age 21. If the beneficiary is not adopted or related to you by blood, you will be required to repay any applicable government bonds and grants.

Consult a Specialist

Finally, you don’t have to go it alone, even if you feel prepared to do so. Your financial planner is a capable ally who knows all the details behind Registered Education Savings Plans. He or she wants to prepare you first so you’ll avoid disruptions as time goes by.

Another benefit to working with a finance and insurance professional is the fact that all your investments are taken care of in one place. When you’re trying to balance your retirement savings plan with your segregated funds and other tax-free accounts, it helps to know all of those can be managed by people you trust.

Congratulations on making a great financial future for yourself and your children. With your help, their future RESP benefits are assured. Talk to your financial professional today at TSG Insurance & Financial Services Ltd.

Calgary Insurance: 403.526.3283

Brooks Insurance: 403.501.5123

Medicine Hat Insurance: 403.723.9416

Bassano Insurance: 403-641-4988

Edmonton Insurance: 780-464-0872