Monday, 8 May 2017

Why is my friend paying less than me for car insurance?

Have you ever spoken with a friend or relative and come to the realization that you’re paying quite a bit more or less for car insurance than they are? It happens all the time. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all insurance policy, there are different circumstances that will determine your premium, some of which you can control. Below is a list of different factors that will inform the price of your insurance premium.

1. Safe drivers training. Did you know AMA and other organizations offer basic programs (after you obtain your license) that teach skills to feel safe and confident behind the wheel? Graduates of the program receive a certificate that can be used for discounts with most insurance companies. 

2. Accidents. Over the course of a typical lifetime, you will probably get in 3-4 car accidents. Depending on the circumstance, who was driving the vehicle and how much damage there was, your premium is based on a calculated estimate of future risk. 

3. Tickets. This is another indication of someone’s safe driving habits – how many tickets are you racking up? The exceptions are parking tickets and photo radar, because the identity of the driver is unknown. 

4. Credit Score. Did you know there is a statistical correlation between poor credit and more insurance claims? More and more insurance companies are considering your credit score (which is hugely varied among people) when calculating risk. Check out our other blog on how to achieve good credit. 

     5. Postal Code. If you are living in a neighbourhood with higher incidences of accidents, vandalism, theft and claims, chances are your premium will be adjusted. 

     6. Annual KMs.  Are you driving to work every day between different cities while your friend takes the bus most of the time? Your commutes are not the same, and your premiums won’t be either. 

     7. Vehicle Age. In the event of an accident, your friend’s 1980 Chevrolet is going to cost less to repair than a 2016 Acura, for instance.

     8. Deductible Amount. A deductible is what you would pay out of pocket before your insurance company pays its share. You have a choice, for instance, whether your coverage requires paying $500 or $1000 in the case of an accident, and if you choose $1000 your monthly premium will be less money. 
     9. Occupations. Did you know that there are certain professions that may be eligible to receive additional insurance discounts? Chauffeurs, doctors, tradesmen, lawyers, and people who work in the insurance industry may have discounts that vary by company. 
At the end of the day, if you are shopping around for insurance, a broker can provide you with the best pricing options by accessing multiple markets at a time. Give us a call at 1-877-218-2008 to discuss your options.

Marchella Mafrica
Communications Specialist
Sharp Insurance

Friday, 20 January 2017

6 Tips to Avoid Attic Rain

Have you ever seen tennis-ball shaped water stains on your ceiling? Is it frozen pipes? Leaky toilet? Jumanji?  You might be experiencing a phenomenon called ‘attic rain’.

In 2015 a woman living in Calgary named Debby Montagni reported that she heard dripping in the attic of her brand new townhouse. After finding moisture on her windows and drying water every hour, she contacted the builder of the property to see what could be done. She is not the first Calgarian to experience this issue.  Home inspectors are predicting a rise in attic rain due to the rapid cooling and heating we experience in Alberta.

What exactly is attic rain?

Attic rain occurs when warm moisture accumulates in the attic, freezes during cold temperatures, then melts when the weather warms again. This see-saw in weather produces the perfect attic-crying conditions to damage your house. The kicker?  It usually affects newer homes because there’s less places for air to escape.

Here are 6 tips to help you avoid attic rain in your home:

  1.  Check to see if your attic is well ventilated. Caulk around any fixtures or vents that have not been adequately sealed.
  2.  Make sure your vents go directly outside and not to your attic. Check out this resource for sealing your attic:
  3.  Turn down your humidifier. The ideal moisture level for your house is 30%-50%.
  4. Turn on your kitchen exhaust fan while cooking.
  5.  Install a HRV ( Heat Recovery Ventilator).   HRVs replace damp indoor air with dry outdoor air.
  6. Contact your builder. Ultimately, your attic should already have a mechanism to deal with the air flow and moisture build up. If it wasn't included in your property, it may be a symptom of poor design. Check the attic before you invest in a home. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmistakes: Safety hacks for the holiday season

The holiday season is fast approaching. We all know the drill – parties, lights, trees, gifts and a little bit too much of that eggnog. Inevitably, some individuals may experience the by-products of these celebrations: fires, theft, or minor accidents to name a few. While planning for the festivities there are a few things you can do to prevent any unfortunate accidents.

Here are seven hacks for a safe holiday season:

  • Place candles in your fireplace instead of wood – it’s easier to clean, cheaper, and is less likely to retain heat once put out.
  • Running out of precious oven space to cook? Use a crockpot with a timer for delicious drinks and side dishes. It will remove the risk of leaving a burner on during midday madness.
  • Use a selfie stick to put the star on top of the tree to avoid falling. Beautiful!
  • Put your Christmas lights on an automatic timer.  Deter thieves like Harry and Marv in Home Alone
  • Install a security alarm. Not only will you protect your belongings, your insurance premium may go down!
  • Open pesky clamshell packaging with a can opener to prevent cuts.
  • Wrap a cardboard box to store torn wrapping paper. It will make for prettier photos on Christmas morning. Never throw leftover wrapping paper into the fireplace – it can cause a chimney fire that Santa won’t appreciate.

Insurance tips to have a worry-free holiday:

  • Firstly, save some money for Christmas shopping by choosing an insurance broker. Sharp Insurance will get you the best rate and ensure you fully understand your policy.
  • Create a complete inventory of your personal belongings (gifts of jewelry, anyone?). This will make it easier to file a claim in the event of an accident.
  • Did you get into a fender bender at the mall on Boxing Day? Sharp Prestige provides the use of a rental vehicle while your car is getting fixed at no cost.
  • Do you need quick access to your pink card? Get the Sharp Mobile App on your phone. You can also make a quick claim, find the nearest taxi and access your insurance policy.

Contact us before the holidays for a quote at 1-877-218-2008 or

Marchella Mafrica
Sharp Insurance
Communications Specialist 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Good Credit: How to get it, not sweat it

Everyone knows that having a good credit score can increase your chances of getting car loans, better mortgage rates and so on, but a good score can also lead to better insurance rates! More and more insurance companies (about 55%) are using your credit score to determine your discount eligibility.

Did you know?
There is a statistical correlation between poor credit and more insurance claims.

So how do you get good credit?

A credit score is simply a measure of financial health. Here are some steps to take:

     Step 1: 
Check your credit score. The range in Canada is between 300-900 and the higher your number, the better your score is.  You can access your credit file for free by mailing in the form here. Or, you can access it online faster for a fee.

Step 2:
Understand your credit rating. Once you have received your credit report, use the following chart to help you determine your rating. The numbers are not a scale, but a current status: 

Step 3:
Correct any mistakes on your credit report. This might be mistakes in personal info, late payments, or signs of theft. Do you see something reported that is inaccurate? Gather proof (statements, receipts, etc.) and contact Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada. They will check with the lender that reported the error. If that didn’t work, contact the lender yourself to speed things up. 

Still no results? Escalate your case by speaking to someone at a higher level within your lender or credit agency. Your credit isn’t affected when you ask for information about your own score. 

Step 4:
Make your credit card, phone bills, loan and lease payments on time. 35% of your credit score is based on payment history. If possible, set up automatic payments for the minimum so you don’t even have to think about it! 

More tips:

  • Don’t get enticed by those store credit cards offering a discount for signing up. They’re viewed negatively by credit bureaus.
  • You may have a low score simply because you don’t have a credit history. You can build history when you get a cell phone, bank account, car loan, or credit card. Don’t get it all in the same month, however, because your credit takes a small hit every time a lender checks it.
  • Do you have a low-interest card you don’t use? Keep the account open. It may help to improve a low score. 
  • Pay down your debts as quickly as possible. Pay down the debt with the highest interest rate first to save money. 

Don’t sweat it. See below for some safe, reliable resources if you want financial advice or simply want to take more control.

Debt and credit advice:

Budget templates, calculators, info on mortgages, credit, loans and more:  

Marchella Mafrica
Communications Specialist
Sharp Insurance 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Telematics: The Fitbit for your Car

Why is it that tracking what we eat results in weight loss? Tracking what we spend saves us money? Tracking how we feel enables us to be happier?

It’s simple – gaining awareness contributes to habit changes.

So what does this have to do with cars? 

Did you know your car is built for a device that can track and transmit information about your driving skills such as hard breaking, speed, distance and the times of day you travel most?   A small removable device that gathers data, can be installed in your vehicle, to rate your insurance premium based on your driving skills rather than demographic generalizations. Inevitably, having this device track your good and bad driving habits will prompt you to be more aware on the road which will help increase safety precautions for you and others on the road. If you think you're a fantastic driver, then this device could mean big savings for you.   

Sharp Insurance Partners with Pembridge Insurance 

As of November 30th, Sharp Insurance is partnering with Pembridge to provide alternative insurance policy options for clients. This includes optional participation in the My_BRIDGE telematics program referred to above. After a 6 month period of tracking driver data, eligible drivers could save up to 30% on auto insurance premiums!

Here are some FAQs on Telematics.

Q. Who will benefit from telematics?
A. You may benefit from the My_BRIDGE program if you:
  • Use public transit.
  • Work from home.
  • Are on a parental leave.
  • Do not drive a lot.
  • Do not drive during high-traffic hours.
  • Maintain safe driving habits.
  • Combinations of the above.

Q. What kind of benefits are there?
A. If you sign up for My_BRIDGE, you can expect:
  • Customized insurance coverage that fit your lifestyle. For example, typically new drivers have much higher insurance premiums. If data reveals you to be a great driver, your rates will reflect that. 
  • Receive a sign-up discount, plus additional discounts if your found to be eligible through telematics data.

Q. Why are some insurance companies offering this?
A. Insurance companies benefit from telematics by:
  • Increasing customer satisfaction and loyality 
  • Offering innovative products for parents that help them understand their children's driving habits.
  • Increasing safe driving habits and decreasing accidents. 

Q. Is there any other data being tracked like GPS locations or accidents?
A. Nope. This specific telematics technology only audits driving skill with certain criteria. 

Q. What else should I know? 
A. The My_BRIDGE program is available now at Sharp Insurance.

Want more info? Give us a call at 1-877-218-2008

Marchella Mafrica
Communications Specialist

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Autonomous Vehicles: The Wheel Deal

Will we still need insurance when cars drive themselves?

One of the current innovations of the automobile industry is the development of the driverless car. Think the “Johnny Cab” automated taxi driver in Total Recall, or Tom Cruise’s mass transit system in Minority Report. Toyota, BMW, Tesla, Nissan, Google and a host of other companies are preparing to introduce robotic vehicles by the year 2020, or even as early as 2018. While they may not be exactly what popular media predicted, they will most certainly bring about changes to the auto-insurance industry and the way we travel.

So if I’m technically not driving the car, will I still need insurance?
In short, yes. Insurance is the transfer of risk from a driver to a company. In the case of an accident, insurance companies will cover specific damages. Operating an autonomous vehicle (AV) would just shift the liability more from the individuals to the car manufacturer. There will still be a need for theft, personal and physical damage insurance for the Demolition Man car.  
How will autonomous vehicles affect my premium?

It depends. New drivers today might be spending upwards of $4000-$6000 for insurance yearly, and this may very well go down. Instead of rating the driver’s skill, insurance companies will judge car conditions and safety. This change will transform how the automobile insurance industry operates. In the future they may serve a few key manufacturers instead of individuals, similar to insurance for cruise lines and shipping companies.
Insurance premiums will also vary depending on the different levels of car automation. The former Society of Automotive Engineers determined five levels detailing how much control an AV has. This will complicate insurance premiums because there will be a varying amount of liability on the driver.

How will driverless cars change society?
Unless the cars become self-aware and threaten our very existence, there are multiple benefits of AV beyond the prospect of lower insurance premiums. We can look forward to:

  1.  Fewer accidents. When you remove the human factor there is 90% less likely  chance of error.
  2.  Less traffic. Congestion may be decreased from the efficiency of these cars.
  3.  Increased transportation for the elderly and disabled. Driverless vehicles will  increase access for those who couldn’t previously drive.
  4.  Better fuel efficiency contributing to less pollution and there will be less need for large parkades where potential.
  5.  More time to do as we please during travel (read, text, sleep) whatever!

That seems like a future we are willing to drive towards.

Marchella Marfrica
Communications Specialist
Sharp Insurance

Friday, 4 November 2016

Swimming with Sharks vs. Distracted Driving

Over the last weekend of October there were six fatalities in four separate car crashes in Manitoba. RCMP officers say that distracted driving was a factor in the accidents. In the age of technological conveniences at our fingertips, it is difficult to consider what is at stake when behind the wheel. Forgot to apply mascara? Need a bite of that sandwich? Want to switch songs or text a friend? Do it while you’re pulled over to reduce your chance of collision by 80%.

So what exactly are the risks of various distracted driving activities? The Canadian Automobile Association summarizes them in the table below. 

Desensitizing to Risk

While texting and driving is obviously a large risk, even holding your phone and chatting is a hazard. If your odds of coming face to face with a shark increased 1-23 times, would you get out of the water? What if you could just swim peacefully without any risk at all? It turns out humans are really bad at calculating risk. We use a combination of logic and intuition to assess everyday dangers, but more often rely on our gut feeling. Harvard instructor David Ropiek discusses the concept of the Perception Gap: being afraid of relatively smaller threats and less afraid of relatively big ones. You may drive every single day to work while sipping a coffee and e-mailing your boss without incident, therefore you desensitize to any perceived risk. You may travel less frequently on airplanes, so the associated danger ‘feels’ more imminent. However, we all logically know which risk is greater.  We also know that it only takes one glance at a playlist to miss a child running out into the street.   

The Good News

The advances in our modern era fortunately bring conveniences to our conveniences. The Bluetooth Gods have bestowed upon us the capability to speak with someone hands-free. Books are available as audio. Green smoothies are a welcome alternative to a take-out box nestled in the passenger seat next to chopsticks.  But we’ll still have to prep our kid’s belongings, makeup, and/or GPS before our journey. Gone are the days of cruising in that 1964 mustang seat belt-free with a metal baby chair tied to the bench seat.

 We know better now.         

Marchella Mafrica
Communications Specialist