Car crash injury claims aren’t increasing, insurance can handle costs

Car crash injury claims aren’t increasing, insurance can handle costs

LAUREN BOOTHBY

Edmonton Journal

An Alberta group advocating for fair auto insurance is out with a new report challenging the reasoning behind scrapping a rate cap that will now see some drivers paying nearly 30 per cent more for auto insurance this year.

Insurers have blamed climbing injury payouts for creating a “crisis” in the insurance industry, with companies claiming they were paying out more than they were bringing in through premiums. But an analysis by an actuary hired by Fair Alberta Injury Regulations found injury payouts have stabilized in the last few years and even started to dip in 2019.

“They’re not skyrocketing. They’re not significantly increasing from one year to the next. That’s been the case for (three) years now,” consulting actuary Craig Allen told Postmedia.

He acknowledges injury claims did climb between 2011 and 2016, but they have levelled out since then.

“I agree there has been a period of growth, but my interpretation is that period of growth has ended,” Allen said.

He also found that the previous rate cap was high enough to cover injury claims in the last few years, because the Automobile Insurance Rate Board’s (AIRB) allowed rate hikes accounted for claims increasing at a faster pace than what resulted.

“Allowable rate levels since late 2017 … provide more than adequate amounts for the estimated bodily injury claims costs that have subsequently emerged. For insurers that have kept up to date with their rate changes, further rate increases for bodily injury coverage appear to be unnecessary at present and for a period into the future,” Allen wrote in the report.

He said insurance companies and the AIRB overestimated the severity of injury claims, and so that left room to cover any higher costs the company faced.

Fair Alberta is skeptical of claims the industry is overburdened by claims costs, and the reason behind the provincial government’s decision to scrap the rate cap

“We don’t understand where the premier got the idea that personal injury claims are escalating out of control — that is not what this data shows,” he told Postmedia.

“There is not a crisis going on with bodily injury claims costs, and there is no need to take money away, or compensation away, from injured, innocent people to compensate for an industry that is saying that there is a problem.”

The group also says it expects insurers are claiming hardship ahead of lobbying for changes to consumer protection laws around injury compensation.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) takes issue with the report’s claims bodily injury claims have stabilized.

“Data from the independent rate regulator’s actuary clearly shows a steep increase in bodily injury claims since 2012. It’s clear that the auto insurance system no longer works for Alberta’s three million drivers: it’s expensive and offers little choice. We hope that all groups, regardless of what stake they have in the situation, will come together and work with the government-appointed expert committee on auto insurance to work on fixes that are in the best interest of drivers,” Celeste Power, IBC’s vice president said in an email statement.

When reached for comment, the AIRB only pointed to a panel reviewing insurance in the province, and did not comment further on the report.

“The government is reviewing the current automobile insurance system to ensure automobile insurance is sustainable and available for all Albertans. The AIRB looks forward to the expert advisory committee’s report and recommendations,” reads a statement from the AIRB.

Jerrica Goodwin, spokesperson for the provincial treasury board and finance, said in an email statement the AIRB is in the best position to comment on its methodology.

“Our government is addressing the issues in the automobile insurance industry that the previous government wasn’t willing to. We have appointed an advisory committee to review the system and are committed to an automobile insurance system that is fair, affordable and accessible for Albertans,” she wrote.

Report says auto insurance hikes unnecessary

City News

The excerpted article was written by Kenny Mason, Andrea Montgomery

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Drivers continue to see rising auto insurance rates but one group says the hikes aren’t needed.

Last month, the United Conservative government announced it was creating a panel to review the rise in insurance rates, less than six months after removing the rate cap.

During the press conference, Finance Minister Travis Toews said the cap was just a band-aid solution for the system.

According to a report from rights advocate group FAIR Alberta, some insurance companies said there was a crisis in the industry due to a reported rise in bodily injury claim costs.

Actuary Craig Allen, who compiled the report, believes this is false.

“From June 30, 2016, to June 30, 2019, the claims costs are roughly level, and that’s supported by the Insurance Bureau of Canada‘s submission to AIRB, the Alberta Auto Insurance Rate Board.”

In the report, Allen found the AIRB overestimated the severity of claims reported in its 2018 annual report, and has since revised those costs to lower amounts.

He added rates have gone up compared to 2010, but have been steady since 2016.

FAIR Alberta believes insurance companies are looking to change consumer protection laws to pay out less to injured Albertans while retaining more profit, which could lead to higher premiums.

“All this time, insurance companies have been blaming Albertans who have been injured in accidents for rising premiums, but now we have data that says that’s not true,” said FAIR spokesperson Mark Feehan. “We now know injuries aren’t driving insurance rates. We also know many insurers in Alberta are still making tens of millions in profit each year.”

The panel investigating auto insurance rates will deliver its recommendations to the province by this spring.

Santa wasn’t the only one watching for bad behaviour last month

Police throughout Saskatchewan were keeping a watchful eye for impaired drivers as part of the December Traffic Safety Spotlight, and SGI delivered warnings about the consequences of impaired driving via songs with a holiday twist that were performed live in public and streamed on Facebook.

Some people must have tuned out, though, because police reported 295 impaired driving offences, including 249 Criminal Code charges, for the month of December.

Impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads. Enforcement is stronger than ever, and consequences include licence suspensions, vehicle impoundments, Ignition Interlock requirements, penalties under the safe Driver Recognition program, and potential fines and/or jail time imposed by the courts.

There’s never a good reason to drive impaired, and there’s always a better choice. If you’re going to be impaired, plan a safe ride.  If you’re already impaired, don’t get behind the wheel.

Distracted driving tickets drop

With the cost of distracted driving tickets set to increase significantly on Feb. 1, December marked the second straight month of lower-than-average distracted driving offences reported by law enforcement.

Police reported 534 distracted driving offences (including 408 tickets for cellphone use) in December, which was the lowest monthly total in all of 2019, and follows a dramatic drop in distracted driving offences reported in November.  To help put December’s result into context: for the first 10 months of 2019, the monthly average of distracted driving tickets was nearly 900. It reached an all-time TSS record of 1,290 in October.

It’s too soon to draw any conclusions about what this means, but hopefully it’s the start of a trend of fewer people driving distracted. It’s a potentially deadly mistake, and — starting in February — it will be a much more costly one.

Law enforcement also reported the following results for December:

  • 4,722 tickets for speeding/aggressive driving.
  • 309 tickets for improper seatbelt or child restraint use

Follow SGI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

Volkswagen ordered to pay $196.5M in emissions scandal

By Nicole Thompson

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — An Ontario judge has ordered Volkswagen to pay the Canadian government $196.5 million for its emissions-cheating scandal.

Judge Enzo Rondinelli made the sentencing decision hours after the company formally pleaded guilty to all 60 charges against it.

An agreed statement of fact says the German automaker imported 128,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, along with 2,000 Porsches, that secretly violated emissions standards.

The Crown and Volkswagen jointly suggested the penalty, which falls short of the maximum $265 million the company could have been fined for the charges.

But the Crown says the penalty is more than 20 times higher than the record environmental fine in Canada of $7.5 million, which was handed to a mining company in 2014.

Rondinelli says the record fine marks “a new era” in punishment for environmental crimes in Canada.

Pothole damages, can you file an insurance claim?

Re-run

The excerpted article was written by Rikki Watson | DrydenNow

It’s inevitable that most drivers will hit at least one pothole this spring. But what do you do if the crater in the road seriously damages your vehicle?

Most people would say to call the city, they’re responsible for road maintenance, so they must be responsible for the damages. This isn’t usually the case.

In the majority of cases, the city will not accept liability for damages caused by hitting potholes. As long as the city is meeting the Minimum Maintenance Standards – as set out in legislation – there is no negligence on the part of the city.

This leaves two options, make an insurance claim or pay for the damages out of pocket.

To file a claim you need to make sure you have collision insurance. Going this route, getting as much information as possible, including taking photos of the damage and pothole, is always the best idea. Photos could help your claim.

A pothole claim is classified as a single-car accident as it comes under collision. Insurance providers consider the damage caused by hitting a pothole as an at-fault accident. Your collision deductible will apply, and your rates could go up at your next renewal due to filing an at-fault claim.

According to a CAA survey, Canadians pay $1.4 billion a year in pothole damages.

Sometimes the damage sustained is a lower dollar amount than your deductible, which would make filing a claim irrelevant, and you may be better of paying for the repairs out of pocket.

 

The Difficulty With Stop Signs

Stop LineOne wouldn’t think that stopping at a stop sign would be such a problem for drivers. It seems relatively simple, come to a complete stop, look both ways and then go if it is safe to do so. With the poor compliance rate, we should ask is the stop sign the best form of traffic control for intersections that are not controlled by traffic signals?

Let’s examine what making a proper stop means and where it has to be done. You may be surprised to learn that the stop sign itself simply tells you what you must do, not where you have to do it.

The simplest case is one where there is nothing at the intersection other than the stop sign. Here one must stop before entering the intersection itself and in a position nearest to the crossroad where a driver has a clear view of traffic approaching on that crossroad.

Where there is a marked crosswalk along with the stop sign a driver must stop before entering the crosswalk. Doing so will protect against a collision if the driver has failed to notice any pedestrians present.

One failure of our current Motor Vehicle Act is not including unmarked crosswalks in this requirement. Not all unmarked crosswalks are preceeded by a marked stop line to provide some protection for pedestrians.

The stop sign with a marked stop line seems to be the most difficult. Stop lines never seem to be placed at a point where the driver has a good view to the left and right if they stop as required. Consequently, stop lines are often ignored completely. The proper thing to do here is to stop at the line, move ahead to a point where you can see properly, stop again and then proceed after looking both ways to insure it is safe to do so.

Death by Stop Sign is an article in Psychology Today authored by John Staddon. He singles out the stop sign saying:

Look at the familiar stop sign. It does two bad things: First, it makes you look at the stop sign rather than the traffic—it distracts. Second, it doesn’t tell you what you need to know. It tells you to stop even when you can see perfectly well that there is no cross traffic. It shouts “don’t trust your own judgment!”

Dr. Staddon provides Britain as an example of how it should be done. Stop signs are a rare item beside their roads he says, you will find yield signs or their equivalent road markings instead. They have a lower collision rate than North America and yielding instead of stopping saves time and reduces pollution.

He also hints that the roundabout would be preferred over both stop and yield signs. These intersections can reduce collisions by 37% and fatal collisions by 90%.

So, until roundabouts become common in British Columbia, keep in mind that more than half of all collisions happen at intersections. Following proper stop sign etiquette places you in control in a high hazard area.

Reference Links:

 

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible for conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

 

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