For most of spring and early part of summer, the majority of Ontario vehicles sat in driveways as people worked from home and self-isolated. Highways were bare, accidents were down and customers wanted a break on their insurance premiums.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Rod Phillips says insurance companies came through providing drivers with $1 billion in insurance relief.

“I'm pleased with that, I think more can be done but it’s a good day for drivers,” Phillips said. 

A new report from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) also found that the insurance industry provided premium relief measures of $1 billion in savings. 

The industry average was a 7.1 per cent reduction in premiums, which saved consumers an average of $162. 

How much people saved depended on the company they were with. The data provided by FSRA found that of Ontario’s 13 largest insurance companies, CAA Insurance provided the most premium relief at 13 per cent. The Co-operators insurance provided the least at 4.5 per cent. 

“We can see there are some companies that have done more (to reduce premiums) and there are others that have more to do. That's why I have asked FSRA to keep producing this information,” Phillips said.

Justin Thouin, the CEO of Lowestrates.ca, a website that compares auto insurance rates, said his company's data found that insurance rates in Ontario have dropped about 4 per cent.

“The insurance companies have stepped up and they have given people a break in different ways," Thouin said. 

Thouin said companies either reduced premiums, changed policies or sent rebate cheques to customers. He believes transparency by showing what companies have done for their customers could lead to lower rates. 

“This visibility and this competitive environment where insurance companies can see what each other is doing can only be good news for consumers," Thouin said.

Thouin said he expects premiums for Ontario drivers to remain flat and then possibly start to creep up. Despite a reduction due to COVID-19, Ontario drivers still pay the highest insurance premiums in the country.

The insurance industry is blaming higher premiums on the increasing costs to repair cars as well as insurance fraud.