The majority of Canadians say they are driving less now as a result of high gas prices, according to the latest Leger survey for BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA. And, for the most part, they’re not telling insurance companies — which could be costing them money.   

Prices at the pumps have been rising across the country for months now, with the latest increase resulting from Russia’s attack on Ukraine. A number of countries around the world, including Canada, have banned Russian crude, which has driven oil prices higher. 

When surveyed, 54 per cent of Canadians said they were driving less because of the high prices. Another 15 per cent said they were planning to adjust how much they drive in the near future.  

Atlantic Canadians were changing their driving habits the most, with 70 per cent of respondents there saying they are driving less, while 55 per cent in Ontario said they were driving less. In Alberta, 46 per cent of drivers said they were driving less, the lowest percentage in the country.  

The online survey of 1,515 Canadians was conducted by Leger from March 11-13. 

High gas prices are also spurring a shift in consumer habits, with more drivers now saying they will look at buying an electric car or hybrid. One in five of those surveyed said they would consider buying a hybrid as their next vehicle, while 18 per cent said they would consider an electric car. Only 27 per cent said that high gas prices would not have any impact on their next purchase.  

While consumer driving habits change, drivers have not done a good job of keeping their insurer informed. Only 17 per cent of respondents said they had notified their insurance company that they are now driving less. Another 39 per cent said they had not notified their insurer, while 41 per cent said they didn’t even know that changes in driving distance could impact their insurance premium. 

This is a missed opportunity to save money.

Driving less can lower your premium, especially if the type of driving you are doing has changed. For instance, if you are no longer driving to work, and only using your car to pick up groceries or see friends, insurance companies are likely to lower your rate, as your vehicle use will fall into the category of “leisure” rather than commuting for work. 

It’s important in general to keep your insurance company informed of any changes to your driving. Insurers can potentially cancel your policy if they find out you omitted information. 

So while you can’t control the cost of gas prices, you can control some of your insurance premium. That means if you’re driving less, call your insurance company. It could be the one upside to expensive gas prices.

BNN Bloomberg has teamed up with RATESDOTCA to take the pulse of Canadians every month on key pocketbook issues as we strive to better understand how households are navigating COVID-19. This is the latest instalment in monthly special coverage.