BY TOMASIA DASILVA
Many Alberta drivers will soon pay more to insure their vehicles — in some cases, much more.
In a bulletin sent to brokers, and obtained by Global News, large home and auto insurer Aviva Canada said there would be across-the-board hikes of 15 percent starting January 2020. It also confirmed to Global News that number could go up depending on driving and claims history.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said it doesn’t know exactly how many other insurers operating in Alberta have also applied for rate changes, but added there are a number of them.
IBC’s Western vice president Celyeste Power said they have no choice, considering how claims have been increasing in the province.
“Insurers have actually been losing about 12 cents, on average, on every dollar that they’ve been taking in right now,” Power said. “So they’ve been paying $1.12 for every $1 they’re taking in.”
For drivers like Scott Johnsen of Calgary, an insurance hike couldn’t come at a worst time.
“I’m already paying about 270 bucks a month for two vehicles,” Johnsen said.
He moved to Calgary from Saskatchewan about three years ago and said he was paying about half as much there.
He added his only option may be to park one of his vehicles.
“It sucks,” he added. “Me and my wife both work, we have a small child, so we have to figure it out. Probably buy a bicycle.”
Aviva told Global News it filed for and received permission from Alberta’s rate regulator to increase rates for auto insurance following the UCP’s decision in late August not to renew the rate cap on auto insurance premiums.
In a statement the company said: “The five per cent rate cap imposed by the previous government may have seemed like a simple solution, but it simply delayed necessary increases to keep up with increasing costs.”
Aviva went on to say the cap did not address underlying issues that drive up premiums — things like higher car repair costs, more expensive injury claims and less choice in the marketplace.
IBC went even further.
“None of the issues within the system were addressed in that four years. And now consumers like us, we’re paying for it.”
The Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta also said changes were necessary. Still, officials are bracing for some backlash from customers.
“We knew that the companies were in trouble in terms of profitability, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise.”
Hodgson didn’t know if everyone would be facing a 15 to 20 per cent hike, but added this would be a perfect opportunity to shop around.
Sometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver’s seat. Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills. Can’t or won’t follow the driving rules? Pay for a few penalty points and don’t worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.
Last week’s episode of Nova, Look Who’s Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles. One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.
Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver’s career. You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver. The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.
After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.
I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He’d driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all! The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver’s licence.
I’ve been driving for more than 40 years now and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in BC since I was 16. In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.
There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses? I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I’m going in as sharp a focus as I can.
Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver’s seat with a host of driving assists. Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.
After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.
So, if I keep my head down, don’t bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.
Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.
Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it’s users to carry on without training updates and testing? We’ll see you when I turn 80!
The excerpted article was written by Penny Daflos, CTV Vancouver
VANCOUVER – Startled witnesses who recorded a Tesla rolling through a Richmond parking lot this week without anyone at the wheel were concerned it had “gone rogue.”
But the owner had actually activated a new and controversial self-driving feature – one that officials say is illegal, and could negate insurance coverage.
A reader of the Richmond News sent the local newspaper video of the unoccupied electric Tesla Model 3 slowly driving through a parking lot at Richmond Centre on Monday before stopping for a man who appeared to be waiting for it in the parkade.
It’s a feature called “Smart Summon” that Tesla quietly rolled out in Canada last month. Activated via a smartphone app, the company’s website describes it so: “With Smart Summon, your car will navigate more complex environments and parking spaces, maneuvering around objects as necessary to come find you in a parking lot.”
The feature has been the subject of numerous videos on social media and YouTube in the past month, with users testing its accuracy in detecting hazards, with close calls and minor fender-benders documented alongside other examples of remarkable navigational ability.
The Ministry of Transportation says not only do B.C. laws “not permit driverless vehicles on our roads,” the vehicles are also illegal for import. The Teslas were already in the country when the feature was enabled last month, however. The ministry says it’s formed a work group to deal with autonomous vehicles and that it’s up to police jurisdictions to enforce the law.
Meanwhile, ICBC says parking lots are the same as roadways under the law, making the Smart Summon feature illegal there as well, noting: “In the recent incident in Richmond, thankfully there was no accident. Had an accident occurred, the vehicle owner’s insurance may not have provided coverage.”
CTV News asked Tesla for an interview and for details about what kind of work they’ve done with Canadian officials to ensure the autonomous feature is legal on our roadways but the company has not responded.
Though the vehicle didn’t come close to any curbs, people or other vehicles, it was driving over the solid centre line on the way to its owner.
“We’re going to have to change our laws,” said personal injury lawyer Renn Holness.
He says at the moment, manufacturers are not responsible for any crashes, injuries or damages, but if the vehicle’s creator is controlling its movement, the law should change to reflect that. Holness also points out that Tesla needs a huge amount of testing to update and establish the software as safe, and that can only come with a lot of practice.
“They knew that in order to have this technology properly tested it would have to be tested on a very large scale and in order to do that they would have to have gotten some type of approval from the government — that was never sought and never received,” said Holness. “So this is almost like a sleeper software that not become apparent until now and Tesla’s benefitting from it because they’re getting all the test results.”
He suggests that until legislation is updated with clear guidelines for insurance coverage, Tesla drivers should err on the side of caution.
“My advice is disable the feature and only use the feature if you’re on your own private property,” said Holness.
“If you’re anywhere where there’s an expectation of the public could be present, you’re endangering the public and potentially you may, as an owner, be responsible.”
The excerpted article was written By
I went in to renew the insurance on my vehicle and found the premium has gone up by $300 over the previous year.
Nothing has changed about my policy. Nobody else drives my vehicle so the new driver-based model doesn’t come into the picture.
I’d say my driving record is average: a few tickets over the years, a couple of parking-lot fender benders, and a tree that got in my way while backing down in the driveway, that kind of thing. The only highway accident of record is when somebody rear-ended me at a stop light years ago.
I expect my premiums to gradually increase — I’m sure we all do — but this is ridiculous. I guess I should count myself lucky in comparison to the Lower Mainland student whose premium is higher than the cost of her $5,000 Volkswagen Rabbit.
I guess I should also be happy that my new premium is actually average for B.C. drivers.
However, I’m confused by an advertorial headlined, “How ICBC’s new insurance model will save you money.”
“The people of British Columbia spoke, the government listened,” the article begins.
It’s all about high-risk drivers paying more than low-risk drivers, it continues. Under the new rates, it says, 55 percent of full-coverage customers will pay less than they did.
I’d like to see some proof. According to industry stats, B.C. drivers continue to pay the highest premiums in the country, significantly so.
For most people, owning a vehicle isn’t optional, it’s a must, especially if they live outside urban centres. Clearly, ICBC is in need of fixing, but these new insurance rates are a clear sign it’s still broken.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.
By Pat Foran, CTV News
TORONTO — The Zaum family say they know residents of Brampton pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country, but they still thought their last renewal notice was a mistake.
“I was very surprised. I called them thinking that this was an error, because mistakes do happen,” Marcus Zaum said.
The retired couple has one vehicle—a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan. Their old annual insurance premium was $1,443. The new one is $2,345. It’s an increase of $902 a year, or a hike of 62.5 percent.
“That’s with absolutely no charges, no tickets, no brand new expensive car,” Marcus Zaum said. “I’ve been driving without any problems for more than 40 years.”
When the Zaums called their insurance company to ask why there was a huge hike, they were told it was because they live in Brampton and that the insurance industry is dealing with increased costs and vehicles are more expensive to repair.
Marcus’s wife said that she could spend that money on something else, like gifts for her grandchildren.
“I just don’t like being punished for where I live. What are we supposed to do move out of Brampton?” Terry Zaum said.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada says insurance is based on the principle of sharing risk, so drivers share the risk with neighbours and others who live in the same area. Pete Karageorgos the director of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau, says that depending on your postal code, drivers could pay more, despite having a good record.
“If you live in an area that has a high frequency of claims then you can expect to see a high frequency or a relative increase in your premiums,” Karageorgos said.
Ontario’s Liberal government tired for more than a decade to lower premiums without success. The current Ontario government says it’s reviewing the insurance system, trying to find efficiencies.
“Over time, we have a multi-year strategy that will gradually address the issue. It’s a priority for Ontarians and we want to get it right. The last government didn’t get it right, which is why we have the highest insurance rates in the country,” Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said.
The Zaums say they hope the government can make changes so they don’t get hit with more huge insurance hikes and maybe even see their premiums reduced one day.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada says when you get a large increase, you should shop around to try and find a lower rate.
The Zaums said they did that, but couldn’t find insurance at a significantly lower price in their area code.
One of the most … intriguing … developments to watch in the motorcycle industry is the growing interest insurance companies have in onboard safety electronics. Since insurers end up paying out in crashes, they’re keen to prevent them. And one way to prevent them, in theory, is to add onboard electronic safety systems to motorcycles.
That’s why Italian insurer Sara Assicurazioni SpA is now teaming up with Ride Vision, an Israeli company, to offer policies that give discounts to safety tech users.
Ride Vision offers a camera-based safety system that warns riders of impending crashes. The company is in its infancy; basically, it’s offering a product that has been available for years, but on the automobile market, not for bikes (although we’ve seen prototypes developed by some manufacturers). You can see it explained below.
So, a possible step forward, and possibly not, as it’s not hard to foresee a future where insurers jack up rates on bikes that aren’t equipped with this tech, or other systems like leaning ABS or traction control, or even a speed limiter. Remember that as far back as 2013, Saskatchewan Government Insurance was talking about putting telematics on bikes. It was all part of a pilot program at that point, but it’s not difficult to see the writing on the wall, once you consider how punishing motorcycle insurance rates have become in most of Canada.
However, the Italian insurance company that’s working on this current program isn’t using it to raise the cost of business; instead, Calcalist says it’s offering lowered rates to motorcycles with the anti-crash technology installed. That’s a move in the right direction, for sure.