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Taxi drivers fear proposed insurance increase will put them off the road

By Robert Jones · CBC News

On an ongoing drama of rising car insurance rates unfolding at New Brunswick’s Insurance Board, the consortium of companies that underwrite higher-risk drivers is asking for a premium increase in excess of $1,000 on provincial taxis beginning Jan. 1.

The insurance group, known collectively as the Facility Association, only began implementing its last rate hike on taxis —  an 8.4 per cent increase — earlier this month.

The current proposal is to lift those premiums another 20.2 per cent, which would take the cost of insuring the average cab in New Brunswick to $5,906 per year. That would be $1,069 higher than current levels and $2,000 more than they were as recently as 2017.

George Youssef, the part owner of Checker Cab in Fredericton said the rapid escalation of insurance costs, on top of other operating costs, is a serious problem.

“That’s really a killer,” said Youssef.

“[It] stops people from being able to afford to purchase a vehicle on their own and pay the insurance. I mean you’re talking almost $15,000 to $20,000, depending on the vehicle, just to get a car on the road for one year.”

In Saint John, Shelly Orr with Vet’s Taxi agreed.

“In the taxi industry, they’re going to put a lot of people out of work.  A lot of these guys own their own cars. They can’t afford another insurance increase.”

Just over 400 taxis are insured with the Facility Association in New Brunswick — virtually all the commercial cabs driven in the province.

The association is a collective of every automobile insurer licensed in New Brunswick and by law must cover car owners who can’t get insurance from regular companies.

Last year the group applied for a 21 per cent increase in taxi rates but after a hearing at the Insurance Board it was allowed only a portion of that.

The board questioned whether insurance companies were inflating costs for services they were providing the association and disallowed most of the increase being asked for.

“The [board] finds the applicant’s filing not to be just and reasonable in its entirety,” Insurance Board chair Marie-Claude Doucet wrote in the final decision.

“The panel recognizes that Facility Association is required to pay fees to its servicing carriers. That said, the panel was provided with no evidence indicating whether these fees accurately reflect the actual costs incurred by servicing carriers.”

Insurance industry not deterred

The ruling allowed rates to be raised after Sept. 1 of this year by the reduced amount of 8.4 per cent, but undeterred, the association has returned and asked for another 20.2 percent on top of that beginning in January.

Youssef hopes the Insurance Board is equally tough this time.

“Well, I hope the board gives us whatever it can because I mean the insurance for the vehicle is almost the exact same as the cost of the vehicle,” he said.

A hearing on the application is scheduled to begin Oct. 1.

IBC shares ‘Uncomfortable’ ICBC Facts

VANCOUVER, Sept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ – On September 1, 2019, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) dramatically changed the way it prices auto insurance. While these changes were designed to make drivers better off, the lack of choice and competition in the market means quite the opposite is true.

“More and more drivers are discovering the uncomfortable truth that, under ICBC’s new rate design, buying auto insurance in BC is growing ever more complex and costly,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada(IBC). “The pain BC drivers face with ICBC’s monopoly isn’t going away. Now, more than ever, the market must be opened to competition and choice to improve the affordability of auto insurance.”

Drivers in BC pay more for auto insurance than anyone else in Canada, on average $1,832. Yet they receive the same amount when they make a claim. Today, they also face many fees and other cost increases that drivers in other provinces do not.

“Moving to a risk-based pricing model makes sense, as high-risk drivers should pay for the risk they present on our roadways. However, in the process, ICBC has introduced new fees and costs that no other drivers in the country face, making auto insurance in BC even more expensive than it already was,” added Sutherland.

Additional Resources
Full report on how competition can save drivers up to $325 annually: Benefits of Competition in the Provision of Automobile Insurance in BC 
Poll: Auto Insurance Attitudes in BC 
To learn more, visit: BetterAutoInsuranceBC.ca

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 128,000 Canadians, contributes $9.4 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @IBC_West and like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422).

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

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Cheech And Chong Get Into A Car Accident

Cheech And Chong Get Into A Car Accident

Article by Christopher Macaulay

“Do my insurance benefits cover my medical marijuana costs?”

It’s a question that claimants are increasingly asking of their first-party healthcare insurers, and one that is not always easily answered.

On one hand, the use of cannabis as a legitimate treatment option has grown exponentially in recent years. On the other, the associated medical literature is in somewhat of a nascent stage, and it is not always clear whether marijuana will aid an injured party with their recovery (at least in any clinically verifiable sense).

In the recent LAT case of F.F. and Aviva Insurance Canada,1 the Tribunal was faced with the question of whether a treatment plan for medical marijuana was reasonable or necessary to treat a claimant’s anxiety and depression.


The insurer denied the treatment plan on the basis of a psychiatric expert report. The psychiatrist did not recommend cannabis as a form of treatment for the claimant’s psychological impairments. He highlighted the fact that there was limited clinical research to support the use of marijuana in treatment of anxiety symptoms.

Despite referencing the psychiatrist’s view of the clinical research, the Tribunal did not delve into what this research actually says. It is unclear whether any medical literature was put before the hearing Adjudicator.

The claimant relied predominantly on the opinion of his family doctor for his evidence. The family doctor’s records confirmed that the claimant had reported little relief from traditional psychiatric medication and psychotherapy. However, he had shown a marked improvement in both his psychological and physical well-being with the use of medical marijuana. He had also noticed an improvement in his sleep quality while using the drug.

In light of these results, the claimant’s family doctor was supportive of medical marijuana as a viable treatment option. This opinion was corroborated by a letter from a treating nurse who had also noticed the claimant’s improvements when he began to use marijuana.


The Tribunal preferred the claimant’s evidence and ordered the treatment plan payable in its entirety. The Decision highlighted the fact that the insurer’s expert psychiatric report failed to consider relevant details about the claimant’s treatment course; for instance, that the claimant had already tried traditional psychiatric medication and psychotherapy with little to no improvement before submitting his treatment plan for medical marijuana.

Interestingly, the Decision also ordered the insurer to fund a related treatment plan for a medical marijuana assessment. The Tribunal held that such an assessment would be reasonable “to determine what would be an appropriate marijuana product” for the claimant.

Questions Raised

The Decision was undoubtedly a resounding win for the involved claimant. However, the Tribunal’s underlying reasoning raises the question of whether a claimant who turns straight to medical marijuana, without first attempting more traditional pharmacological interventions, would have the same level of success.

On a separate note, if the Decision’s findings with respect to the marijuana assessment are left to stand, this seems to open the door for cannabis clinics to submit similar assessment costs for nearly every claimant with a medical marijuana prescription. Will a cottage industry of quasi-medical “personalized cannabis evaluations” spring up? Time will tell.

Lessons Learned

One clear takeaway from the Decision is that a blanket reliance on (a lack of) medical literature will not suffice as a primary reason to deny a medical marijuana treatment plan. The Decision implicitly follows the standard set by prior SABS case law that there is no requirement for a claimant to prove to a medical certainty that a treatment will be therapeutic.2

In a broader sense, the Decision presents another example of the ever-increasing role that the cannabis industry is beginning to play within personal injury litigation. In years past, both FSCO and the LAT grappled with the idea of marijuana as a treatment modality by contrasting the illegality of recreational cannabis with its purely clinical uses.3 This distinction has since been blurred through federal legalization of the drug for recreational use. Both first and third party insurers can expect to see an increase in claims factoring medical marijuana into treatment and future care costs as a result.

  1. 18-002994/AABS.
  2. Pacquette and Certas Direct Insurance Company, FSCO A05-000934.
  3. See: Biro v. Unica Insurance Inc., FSCO A109-001753; M.J. and Pembridge Insurance Company, 16-000583/AABS.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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