Consumer

Auto Insurance Controversy

July 20, 2005

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There is a controversy going on over how expensive average auto insurance premiums in Ontario are compared to other provinces. Consumer’s Association of Canada claims that premiums in Ontario average $2,384 per annum compared to $1,325 in British Columbia and $1,715 in Alberta. The Insurance Bureau of Canada, an industry association, on the other hand claims that average premiums are $1,279 in Ontario, $1,096 in B.C. and $1,076 in Alberta.

While it is true that auto insurance in Ontario has skyrocketed in recent years, the IBC numbers seem accurate as it is arrived by simply dividing the total premiums paid by the number of insured vehicles. The CAC numbers, on the other hand, are calculated as the average of all premium quotes for a variety of driver profiles. This method is specious because consumers get quotes from various insurers and select the cheapest among them and never pay the average of all the quotes.

Inflation: It’s Back and it’s Bad

May 1, 2005

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This story in Time magazine notes that inflation is actually much higher than the official CPI measures indicate. People living in Main Street have felt the effect of inflation for the last few years in increasing home and auto insurance, higher property taxes, higher home heating bills and lately, a small fortune to tank up the family car.

From data logged in Microsoft money, here is my personal inflation data (Jan. to Apr. 2005 vs. same period last year):

Expenses that have increased
Gasoline: 45%
Electricity: 14%
Natural gas heating: 7%
Home insurance: 7%
Property taxes: 6%
Groceries: 2%

Expenses that have decreased
Long distance: 7%

Please take my numbers with a grain of salt because they may not be an apples-to-apples comparison. For instance, I recall that the winter of ’04 was much colder than usual whereas the previous one was quite normal. Also, I’ve been driving a lot more this year, which might partly explain the high gas expenses.

Comparing Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

April 5, 2005

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I found the RedFlagDeals.com website while surfing the web. It is filled with coupons, flyers, online and in-store deals applicable in Canada. They also have fairly detailed articles comparing high-interest savings accounts (e.g. ING Direct vs. Amex Bank) and no-fee credit card reward programs (e.g. American Express Air Miles vs. Canadian Tire Options MasterCard). It is worth checking out first, if you are shopping for either.