Why some insurance companies may ask where you park your car overnight

Some auto insurance providers give discounts to policyholders who park in a secure location

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One of the rudest awakenings for a driver is the sound of a thief, vandal, or another vehicle smashing the windows of a beloved ride as it sits parked on the street outside.

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A private driveway can lower the chances you’ll wake up to a midnight sideswipe, while a locked garage can deter a would-be joyrider. But can parking off the streets also lower your insurance premium? Possibly.

Do auto insurance companies care where you park your vehicle overnight?

Generally speaking, this is not a particularly influential factor in determining your rate. Anne Marie Thomas, director of consumer and industry relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says insurance companies only look into the particulars of where someone parks overnight if they end up dealing with a multitude of auto claims from a policyholder.

“If someone has a lot of vandalism claims in a short period of time, an insurance company might say:‘ OK, you have to do something about this or we’re going to have to either increase your comprehensive deductible or not offer you that coverage, ‘”says Thomas.

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Insurance companies won’t normally pay out claims to a driver who has the same preventable issues, time and time again. However, offering a private parking discount can be a way of maintaining such a customer while lowering the risk of the car being stolen or vandalized.

Private parking insurance discounts are not common, but not out of the question

Steven Harris, a licensed insurance broker and insurance expert at LowestRates.ca, says some auto insurance companies believe parking in a garage at night as opposed to a driveway or on the street “can impact the probability of loss.”

According to Harris, these discounts aren’t common across the auto insurance industry. In fact, the standardized Ontario auto insurance application forms don’t even ask whether a driver parks on the street, in a garage, or in a driveway overnight.

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However, some auto insurance companies do offer private parking discounts of up to 10 percent.

What makes private parking so much safer?

Private garages can help protect vehicles from theft in a way that driveways accessible to the public and street parking don’t.

Car thieves are increasingly hacking key fobs to beat electronic locking systemswhile so-called “warm-up thefts,” which is when thieves steal a car left to idle in a driveway before, say, a chilly morning commute, are also surprisingly common. As Thomas pointed out, a locked garage makes it far more difficult for a thief to steal your vehicle.

“If your garage is locked, they can’t drive your car away anyway, even if they manage to crack the technology and get the key fob,” Thomas says.

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How your postal code affects your risk of damage and theft

Getting a private parking discount could save you money on your insurance premium, but there are other far more influential factors to consider when trying to protect your vehicle from damage while parked and unattended – like your postal code.

Rural areas typically have less traffic on the road at any given time, so drivers are less likely to issue a claim for a sideswipe or theft. Therefore, insurance rates can be lower overall compared to a dense urban postal code.

Then there are more personal factors related to you, the driver. How long have you been licensed? What is your driving record like? How old are you? Harris said there are many, many other attributes of a driver that auto insurance companies consider when handing out a quote.

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“Where you park at night is a relatively minor factor,” Harris says. Things like your insurance history and car make and model usually weigh heavier on your premium.

How to get a private parking discount

The easiest way to see if an auto insurance provider offers private parking discounts is to check online – most will say so openly on the website.

Of course, a licensed insurance broker can also help you find discounts if you’re an eligible customer. But, before you lock in your policy, be sure to compare auto insurance rates among Canada’s top providers for the lowest possible premium.

As Thomas puts it: “A little bit of due diligence, if you’re shopping for car insurance, couldn’t hurt either.”

LowestRates.ca is a free and independent rate comparison website that allows Canadians to compare rates from 75+ providers for various financial products, such as auto and home insurance, mortgages, and credit cards.

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