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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Private Investigator in Canada? 2023

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When you’re thinking about hiring a private investigator in Canada, there are a few things you need to ask each agency before choosing an investigative company and an agent. The first question should be regarding their experience level and reputation in the industry. The other question should be about the services they offer and their rates. Unlike other professions, there is no industry standard when it comes to fees for hiring a private investigator in Canada, so it’s important to understand how each agency sets its rates.

You can use the information in this article to help you understand the cost of hiring a Private investigator to help you make the best decision.

How Rates Are Set

Rates set by private investigators are based on several factors, including the level of experience and the time it will take to complete the job. This means that fees can vary depending on your location, the agency you use and whether they charge a flat or hourly rate, the type of services you need and the complexity of the work. With that said, most private investigators charge by the hour. You might see a base fee for database searches and background checks, but for surveillance work or locating a missing person; an hourly range is fairly standard.

Typical Fees

There are no industry-specific guidelines for private investigators in Canada. So it’s important to find out exactly what you are paying for. Here are some other costs of hiring a private investigator in Canada:

1. Retainers

Don’t forget to inquire if the investigative agency uses a retainer agreement as part of its fee structure. Similar to lawyers, private investigators will usually require a retainer. This is usually an upfront fee to cover the cost of investigative services. If necessary, the agency will refund any additional fee not used in your case (for example, if you paid for 24 hours of surveillance, but the investigator only ended up conducting 12 hours). If additional services are required, the PI will also ask for an additional retainer fee to cover these services.

2. Hourly Rates

For surveillance services ranging from Workman’s Compensation Investigation (WSIB / WCB) investigation, child custody investigation and infidelity surveillance, too much more, hourly rates are most common. The hourly fee can range from $100 – $250 per hour. It’s not uncommon for an agency to have a daily minimum fee required to engage in services and also to require additional expenses on top of the hourly rate. The investigator should keep you updated on the case so that you know how many hours are being worked, especially if the case gets challenging and requires additional hours.

3. Expenses

You also want to know if you’re responsible for other expenses such as travel time and mileage, gas, hotel stays, or administration costs. If these fees are not included in the original quote, you should ask for a price range, whether there is a cap, and whether they are billed to you upfront or after the service is conducted. You should never be in a situation where these charges catch you off guard, so make sure you discuss this with the agency, as each case is different. The total cost will depend on the expenses incurred by the investigator to complete the file.

2. Flat Rate Private Investigative Services 

Not all services are billed hourly, and there are some services you may expect to see listed as flat-rate services. Flat rate services typically include research, background checks or locates (skip-traces), bug sweeps, asset searches, and social media monitoring. A company can offer these services at a flat fee because the work involved in conducting these services does not vary too much from case to case. The benefit of these types of services to the customer is that they are often viewed as a ‘no hidden fees’ payment model because the price is set at a fixed rate. Be sure to inquire about each investigative service because pricing can vary by agency.

Why Hire A Private Investigator? 

Hiring a licensed Private investigator can be expensive, but you ultimately get what you pay for. Most likely, paying a little more will get you much better results in more thorough research, higher quality video evidence, and expert-level services. Trusted and reputable investigators will be transparent with you about the services and costs throughout the process of hiring a PI. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need to hire an investigator in the first place, you want to make sure you are getting high-quality results and the answers you deserve. Especially if your case goes to court.

At The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., we are always upfront with our clients about our fees during the consultation, and we work with you to discuss your budget. Contact us today to set up a consultation to discuss your project.

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Whitney Joy Smith is a prominent figure in the field of private investigation and security, serving as the founder and CEO of The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., Smith Security Inc., and Training Centre Canada, as well as a sitting politician.

With a remarkable journey that began in the early 2000s, Whitney's professional background as a private investigator is underscored by her unwavering dedication to the role. Born in Canada and having spent her early years between Canada and the United States, Whitney possesses a unique perspective shaped by her experiences in both countries. This background equips her with an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of private investigative laws, regulations, and operational standards in North America.

Throughout her career, Whitney has garnered numerous industry awards and accolades. She takes great pride in working closely with her continually expanding agency, striving to elevate industry standards, maintain compliance, and effectively meet the diverse investigative needs of clients.

Whitney actively engages in various membership, committee, board and support roles, demonstrating her commitment to the industry and professional community. She is affiliated with all local chambers, associations and more.

Whitney's wealth of experience is not limited to her professional achievements; her thought-provoking articles have been featured in publications ranging from Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and Mens Health to Business News Daily. She constantly seeks to redefine standards and push the boundaries of excellence within the private investigative and security fields.

To discover more about Whitney Joy Smith and the dedicated team at The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., visit our website to learn more.