Newfoundlanders and Labradorians Deserve Better Auto Insurance

 It has been 14 years since a review of the auto insurance system was held in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is long overdue. Other provinces have found a balance for claims payouts, sustainable premium amounts and the ability to help accident victims better quickly. It’s about time Newfoundland and Labrador joined them.

We need to fix the current system. It now costs drivers in this province more in premiums than their counterparts pay elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. In fact, on average, premiums are 40% higher here. Drivers in this province are unhappy with their high premiums, their limited choice and the presence of uninsured drivers on the road.

The provincial government is listening. By undertaking a review of the auto system, the government will consider how to encourage more insurers to compete in the marketplace and offer more choice and lower prices to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

NL’s Public Utility Board (PUB) is also listening. They will be seeking public input. If you have an opinion on what is wrong with the auto insurance system, or if you have ideas on how to fix it, we would like to hear from you: nlauto@ibc.ca.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

http://www.ibc.ca

Organization Profile

Auto insurance rates rising as companies blame costs of accident claims

Excerpted article was written By Robert Jones, CBC News

New Brunswick drivers can expect to see higher bills for car insurance beginning as early as next week, as insurance companies begin to respond more aggressively to escalating accident claims in the province.

Michèle Pelletier, New Brunswick’s consumer advocate for insurance, has been involved in a number of this year’s rate hearings at the New Brunswick Insurance Board and confirmed rates are on the rise.

“Rates are going up,” she said.

“We do expect an increase. We’re trying to say, ‘Yes, fair to the company, but it should be also fair to the consumer.'”

New Brunswick’s largest auto insurer, Wawanesa, has already been approved for its largest premium increase in more than a decade — an average seven per cent hike on more than 92,000 privately owned vehicles in New Brunswick.

For Wawanesa customers it amounts to an average increase of $42 per vehicle, although that will vary significantly from driver to driver.

Insurance board agrees with increase

The company has indicated 42 per cent of its policy holders will be receiving higher increases of between 10 and 15 per cent effective Jan. 1.

‘If as a consumer we have a steady increase it’s easier to absorb than all of a sudden to have a big increase — that’s one of my problems.’Michèle Pelletier, consumer advocate for insurance

Wawanesa presented evidence over the summer and fall showing it has been losing money in New Brunswick.

It claimed it actually requires an average 32 per cent rate increase to return to full profitability but was concerned about shocking New Brunswick customers with a change that severe.

The insurance board agreed.

“[Wawanesa] justifies its selection … in the face of the much higher indicated rate on the basis of retention and customer recruitment,” ruled the board.

“The panel is satisfied that [Wawanesa] has justifiable business reasons for these decisions.”

‘That’s one of my problems’

Pelletier has been opposing some of the larger increases companies have applied for, arguing their profit issues, if justified, should not be fixed too quickly.

“If as a consumer we have a steady increase it’s easier to absorb than all of a sudden to have a big increase — that’s one of my problems,” said Pelletier.

“The insurance industry they are there to make money and that’s OK but not too much money to the detriment of consumers.”

New Brunswick currently has some of Canada’s lowest auto insurance rates.

In 2016 the average vehicle cost $775 to insure — 46 per cent less than rates in Ontario.

But auto insurance accident claims in New Brunswick have been escalating in recent years, up $90.5 million (39 per cent) between 2012 and 2016, and several companies say their profit margins in the province have disappeared.

New rates begin next week for some customers

New Brunswick’s second largest insurer, Intact, covers 60,000 privately owned vehicles in the province.

It applied for a 9.5 per cent increase, although the Insurance Board rolled that back to seven per cent.

Intact’s new rates begin next week for new customers and after Dec. 22 for existing customers depending on when their current policies expire.

Michèle Pelletier, New Brunswick’s consumer advocate for insurance, confirmed that automobile insurance rates are going up across the province. (Submitted)

 

 

 

Another large provider, Allstate Insurance, has applied for an average 10 per cent rate increase for the 34,000 New Brunswick vehicles it covers while Pembridge, another Allstate Company which insures 17,000, has applied for eight per cent.

Hearings on those applications are not yet scheduled.

The news is even worse for drivers in high-risk categories who are covered by the Facility Association — an industry collective that operates as insurer of last resort for those with poor driving records and who companies will no longer deal with individually.

Some companies keep increases below 3%

It has applied to raise rates in New Brunswick $267 per vehicle (15 per cent) for about 7,000 clients which would raise the average premiums in that category above $2,000 each.

That application has also not yet been heard but, as a sign of how poor some insurance markets in New Brunswick have gotten, the Facility Association won a $765 (18.2 per cent) average increase on the coverage of New Brunswick taxis earlier this year — pushing those premiums to an average of over $5,000 as of Sept. 1.

Premiums are set to rise for thousands of car owners across the province. (Getty Images/Cultura RF)

But not all companies are chasing large increases.

Full New Brunswick Insurance Board hearings are only required for rate hikes above three per cent and several companies have kept their requests below that, even while filing evidence claiming more is needed to obtain full profitability.

Included in that group are Aviva of Canada (+2.99 per cent), The Personal (+2.99 per cent),  Co-Operators (+2.91 per cent),  Certas  (+2.94 per cent) and CAA (+2.9 per cent).

British Columbia to increase penalties next year for distracted drivers

VICTORIA _ Distracted drivers are facing higher penalties in British Columbia.

The provincial government says it wants to designate distracted driving as a high-risk behaviour under the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s driver risk premium program.

That means a driver with two tickets for distracted driving over a three-year period will see their total financial penalties rise to as much as $2,000, an increase of $740 over existing penalties.

The changes will take effect March 1.

The government says the charges are separate from vehicle insurance premiums charged by ICBC and will be levied even if an individual does not own or insure a vehicle.

It says distracted driving is a factor in more than 25 per cent of car crashes fatalities in B.C. and kills an average of 78 people annually.

Attorney General David Eby says in a statement the changes will treat distracted driving as a serious high-risk behaviour.

 

Saskatchewan raises penalties for drunk drivers with children in their vehicle

By Jennifer Graham

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ The Saskatchewan government wants tougher penalties for people who drive drunk with children in their vehicle.

Proposed legislation has been introduced that would mean an immediate seven-day driving suspension on a first offence for someone driving with a blood-alcohol content of .04 or higher and with a child in the vehicle.

It would also apply if someone refuses to a field sobriety test or fails a field sobriety test.

The current roadside suspension is three days.

Repeat offenders would face a 30-day suspension, up from 21 days, for a second offence, while a third offence triggers a 120-day suspension, up from the current 90.

Impaired drivers who transport children will also have their vehicles seized for longer periods; first-time offenders will have their vehicles taken for seven days, up from the current three days and the time increases to 30 days for a second offence, up from seven days, and to 60 days for a third offence, up from 14 days.

“We think it’s going to drive a firmer message home,” Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said Thursday at the legislature in Regina.

Hargrave said the move was already being considered when a tweet from a Regina police officer shocked people last month.

Const. Curtis Warnar with the traffic unit tweeted Sept. 27 that he pulled over an impaired driver who had a blood-alcohol content of four times the legal limit while driving kids to school that morning.

“Few calls over my 9 years of policing in Regina truly stick with bother me. Today was one of those days,” wrote Warnar.

“I don’t have the answer. I wish I did. I fear that people won’t get the message until it hits too close to home, but by then it’s too late.

Hargrave says that was an extreme case.

“But what could have happened to those kids, the thought just scares me,” said the minister.

Michelle Okere with MADD Canada says it’s important to have deterrents in place.

“We’re definitely supportive of strengthening laws around child endangerment, obviously understanding that much of the time, children under 16 really aren’t given a choice in the matter,” she said.

“We are hopeful this will be a deterrent for adults who are doing that.”

 

Do drivers with dashcams deserve discounts?

SUSAN LAZARUK | Vancouver Sun

Alex Jang, owner of BlackboxMyCar in Richmond, said he’s had clients use dashcam footage to help government adjusters sort out who’s responsible, thereby speeding up claim settlements and saving ICBC money. He said ICBC should reward drivers with a discount of 10 to 15 per cent if they install a dashcam, as he said some insurance companies in the U.K., South Korea and Thailand already do.

“It gets rid of all the ‘he said, she said,’ ” said Jang.

Dashcam footage can also be used to prove fraud, he said. In 2012, an Ontario driver was charged with defrauding his insurer after the driver he hit recorded the offending driver backing up to him on Highway 401.

And Jang said a dashcam can save drivers money if the model can be left on when the car is unoccupied, like when his car was damaged in a hit-and-run “and I was able to capture the licence number and I didn’t have to pay a penny.”

Dashcams could help in a hit-and-run, but there is no evidence that installing one will make you a better driver or lower your odds of getting into a crash, said ICBC spokeswoman Joanna Linsangan. Having video footage of a crash can be included in a driver’s case along with statements of the drivers, witnesses and police, as well as photos to determine liability, she said.

But because the footage shows only one perspective, “it only tells part of the story,” she said.

As for assessing blame in a hit-and-run, “We would welcome the footage, as it will help us with our investigation,” she said.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby said dashcam footage isn’t going to improve a driver’s performance, and incriminating footage could be erased by the offending driver or one planning fraud.

He said, instead, ICBC is going to pilot “telematics” technology that records the car’s speed, how it turns and brakes, and other safe-driving data that ICBC can download to use to determine a driver’s risk. Rate reductions also can be based on that data, he said.

“The technologies we’re looking at currently are trying to change driver behaviour,” said Eby. “Research shows people drive better when they have it (telematics) in their car and have voluntarily taken it on, because they know it affects their rates if they drive differently.”

The data can be used for investigating liability, if captured before the car is sold or destroyed, he said.

Eby said drivers aren’t discouraged from providing relevant dashcam footage to ICBC, but “it just doesn’t seem like the most obvious response to fraud.”

Aaron Sutherland of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said dashcam footage may help a driver determine liability and save him paying his own deductible, but he said collecting telematics through apps is better at determining driving habits. He said insurers in Alberta and Ontario, where there is competition for car insurance, already offer discounts based on these apps, and insurers can also use the data to provide drivers with discounts based on their actual monthly usage.

B.C. Winter driving spot check on mid-Island nets more than bad tires

Posted By: Dean Stoltz | CHEK News

It can be an intimidating moment when you come up to a police roadblock and are waved off the highway for an inspection, but a multi-agency spot check on the Inland Island Highway near Horne Lake Wednesday left a few people out.

“Making sure that they have their headlights and their tail lights are all working appropriately, that even their licence plate light that a lot of people overlook is working and their tires are adequate for the season, that they are mud and snow rated at the very minimum,” said Const. Tamara Aquilini of RCMP Central Island Traffic Services.

Tire tread of overall vehicle safety was being inspected.

“They need to do it, there’s lots of people driving vehicles that shouldn’t be on the road this time of year.” said one driver who was pulled over.

“I think it’s great,” said another driver. “It’s always good to be safe and you can never do it too early because you can never know when the snow is going to come.”

Police found other problems as well like the rusted out frame of a fully-loaded pickup truck.

They also found illegal drugs and a gun.

“The driver had no drivers licence,” said Aquilini. “That led to a little bit more further investigation which as you saw lead to marijuana, fireworks, a rifle.”

Commercial vehicle inspectors were also present checking trucks for deficiencies as well as officers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“We’re mainly focused on the transportation of timber products so we can do it jointly,” said Natural Resources Officer Elliot Molsberry. “They can look at safety of the vehicle while we can look at how the timber is marked and if they’re adhering to the regulations.”

The multi-agency spot check lasted six hours.

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