The excerpted article was written by Kate Porter | CBC News
The City of Ottawa has seen a dramatic jump in its insurance costs after its insurer hiked premiums and limited coverage following January’s OC Transpo bus crash, the second incident involving multiple fatalities and serious injuries in less than six years.
The total annual cost of its insurance program has more than doubled, from $2.7 million in 2018-19 to just under $6 million for 2019-2020, a 120 per cent increase. Insurance policies last from April to April.
The city’s finance and economic development committee agreed Friday to dip into reserves to cover the extra $2.5 million that falls under the 2019 budget.
The insurance covers buildings and vehicles, but also catastrophic losses at city facilities. It also covers liability if the city is sued.
Forced to accept terms
The city’s insurance premiums had already increased 25 per cent from 2017-2018, according to a staff report. Recognizing the rate was about to rise again, the city tasked its broker with shopping around for a better deal.
But then in January, a double-decker bus collided into Westboro Station, killing three people and injuring many more. With that, and a 2013 crash in which six people died, no new insurer was willing to take on the city’s business.
That left the city with no choice but to accept terms offered by its existing insurer, Frank Cowan Company.
Explaining the steep increase, the insurer cited trends including class-action lawsuits, increasing damage awards and escalating costs associated with natural disasters.
Cowan not only increased the city’s premiums, but also lowered the upper limit for what it would cover, from $25 million down to just $10 million per incident, such as a flood or a collision.
The city’s will need to renew its insurance policy again next April.