In 2022, the Ontario government stopped mailing physical reminders to notify people that their driver’s license was up for renewal. This has led to more drivers on the road with expired licenses. It’s also causing an increase in the number of people not having their car insurance renewed because their license has expired.
“When I learned that mail notifications were being phased out, I anticipated that we would start seeing more people forgetting to renew their license, and more auto insurance non-renewal notices because of that,” said Cassie Gilroy, Retention Manager at Mitch Insurance Brokers.
“I never expected it to be in these numbers.”
What does it mean when your insurance isn’t renewed?
A non-renewal happens when your insurance company decides not to renew your policy at the end of its term. If this occurs, the insurer has to provide 30 days’ notice and explain why your coverage is ending.
Insurance companies need to file their underwriting rules with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA). A policy can only be non-renewed if one of those rules has not been met.
Some of the reasons why a policy might not be renewed include having several driving convictions or at-fault claims, failing to provide accurate or complete information when applying for insurance, non-payment and more. Your coverage can also be flagged for non-renewal if your driver’s license is no longer valid.
In Ontario, you need to renew your driver’s licence usually every five years, and it’s illegal to drive with an expired, cancelled or suspended driver’s licence.
At Mitch Insurance Brokers, we’re now seeing that about 30% of our non-renewal notices are because people have forgotten to renew their license.
“We used to get the odd notice for an expired license, but it wasn’t a common occurrence,” said Gilroy. “I’ve worked in insurance for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen this volume for this type of non-renewals.”
How does my insurance company know that my license is expired?
Insurers pull motor vehicle reports for their policyholders from the Ministry of Transportation that include information about the date you were licensed, your license status and any driving convictions you may have.
How often these reports are pulled varies by company. Some examine them annually, while other insurers may do this less frequently.
“It feels as though we’re seeing companies pulling motor vehicle reports for more drivers on renewal now,” said Gilroy. “That might be a result of them finding claims where drivers have expired licenses, or it could be from other trends they are seeing on their end.”
In addition to the 30% of non-renewal notices we’re receiving for people not remembering to get a new license, our brokerage is also getting requests from different insurers for updated licences in advance of a customer’s renewal date to give them the chance to avoid this process.
“Some insurance companies are reaching out to say, ‘We’ve noticed that this client has an expired license. Please provide us with a copy of their new license to avoid the non-renewal,'” said Gilroy. “So that 30% figure is actually a low number.”
What to do if you receive a non-renewal notification for an expired license
First off, don’t panic. In most instances, getting your license reinstated is an easy, straightforward process. In fact, if it’s been expired for less than 12 months, you can renew it online. If it’s been longer than that, you’ll need to visit a DriveTest or ServiceOntario centre. It costs $90 to renew a driver’s license for five years.
The most important thing to do is get your new license as soon as possible and not let the issue linger. Driving with an expired license is illegal, and if you’re stopped by the police the fine is $325.
Once you’ve got your new license, send a copy of it to your broker or insurance company and the policy non-renewal will be cancelled. Getting this resolved as quickly as you can will ensure there are no issues with your insurance coverage or your policy renewal.
Will having an expired license impact my insurance coverage or rates?
If the Ministry of Transportation reinstates your license with no conditions, your insurance won’t be impacted. If you need to start the graduated licensing system again because your license has been expired for too long, you’ll lose your driving history and will be considered a new driver in the eyes of your insurance company. This will affect your premiums.
If you’ve received a non-renewal notice, providing proof of your new license to your broker or insurer right away will make the policy renewal process much easier and less stressful. And the quicker you can get this sorted, the more time you’ll have if there are issues with your renewal or you’d like to have a broker try to find you a better price for your insurance.
Waiting to renew your license could limit your options for acquiring other coverage before your current policy expires and you’re no longer insured.
“We are finding that people’s lives are busy, and they’re updating their license at the last minute,” said Gilroy. “This means that when they finally receive their renewal, they are left with no time to shop or check what other choices they have.
“We’re doing everything we can on our end to help people get ahead of the issue so that they don’t find themselves in a situation where they are unhappy with their renewal but don’t have the time to do anything about it.”
Sign up for automatic reminders
Making sure your license is valid will save you a headache if you’re ever pulled over, get in an accident or when your insurance policy is up for renewal. Why not take a minute and check the expiry date on your license right now and encourage all other drivers in your household to do the same.
If you haven’t yet, we also recommend signing up to receive free electronic renewal reminders from Service Ontario about your driver’s license by email, text or phone. You can also register to get notifications for your health card and license plate too.
And if you have any questions about your how your driver’s license impacts your insurance coverage and policy renewal, give us a call. Our team of insurance brokers are always happy to help.
Reviewed by Lisa McLachlin, Personal Lines Account Manager at Mitch Insurance.