Excerpted article was written by Peter Watts: Global News

Once a year, it’s renewal time for your vehicle insurance. Once a year, you shake your head and think: “Why do I pay so much for something I will — hopefully — never have to use?”

I’m going through that process this month. Thankfully, I have had no claims this past year — touch wood — but in talking to my agent, I find out that my premium will be going up a little bit.

My sister, who just retired after 41 years as a claims adjuster, tells horror stories of some of the files she had to deal with on auto claims. There is a perception out there that insurance companies are bottomless pits and have unlimited funds. That perception is wrong and needs to be corrected.

“We’re in contact with the province on a regular basis to talk about fees and services, about what we can and cannot offer and about the growing discrepancy between what we collect in premiums and what we pay out in claims,” says Celyeste Power, interim vice-president of the western region for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“One of the byproducts of more technologically advanced vehicles is higher repair costs. You can’t just take the dents out of a car door anymore. All doors contain various electronic components that could be affected by being in an accident. That’s why replacement, rather than repair, may be the only option. That just adds to the costs,” says Power.

IBC says the auto insurance industry market has deteriorated significantly over the past few years due to rising claims costs.  Current regulatory controls are making it more difficult. There have been suggestions that some companies may choose to leave the market if operating conditions become prohibitive.

There are three million drivers in Alberta. That’s three million reasons to ensure that auto insurance remains affordable and available.

But do take note of what you pay and what you get for what you pay. Education and testing are part of the price we pay to ensure that drivers are properly prepared to be on our roads. It is a privilege, not a right. Even if it was a right, there are no rights without corresponding obligations. One of those obligations is to do what you can to keep yourself and others safe. Your bank account will thank you — and so will your insurance company.

Peter Watts

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