SGI sees record-setting year for driving safety

The news was all good for SGI when they tabled their annual report in the provincial Legislature on Thursday.

Not only are things rosy from a financial perspective, the provincial auto insurance plan reported the lowest number of fatalities ever record in Saskatchewan.

The province has officially exceeded the five-year target of a 30 per cent reduction in injuries and fatalities on roads in Saskatchewan a full year ahead of schedule, with the original plan to see that level of improvement by 2020-21.

Compared to the baseline set in 2015, injuries dropped nearly half — 45 per cent — to a total of 3,850 while fatalities were down 56 per cent to 71. The number of deaths is the lowest ever recorded in Saskatchewan since data tracking started in 1951.

“In 2019, there were historic lows in the number of deaths and injuries on Saskatchewan roads, and the number of people killed as a result of impaired driving deaths was 61 per cent lower than the average over the previous decade,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said. “While the people of Saskatchewan deserve much of the credit, SGI’s work alongside partners in government, law enforcement, and community organizations has made a significant contribution toward changing driving habits and improving safety on our roads.”

The Saskatchewan Auto Fund — the mandatory vehicle insurance program administered by SGI — also had a solid year.

Some of the highlights include:

  • $889.3 million in claims;
  • $962.7 million in gross premium written;
  • $151.5 million in discounts to customers through the Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) and Business Recognition programs;
  • $29.3 million net storm claims.

SGI Canada — which sells property and casualty insurance throughout western Canada — reached a target of $1 billion in direct premiums written, exceeding the plan to reach that level by next year.

“This Saskatchewan-based company has a significant presence throughout the country and is maintaining that profitable growth within a market of tough competitors,” Hargrave said.

Highlights for SGI Canada include.

  • $49.9 million net income, with a return on equity of 11.4 per cent pre-tax;
  • $54.3 million dividend to government;
  • $22.7 million in investment earnings;
  • $1 billion in direct premiums written, including $418.9 million (42 per cent) written outside Saskatchewan, achieving SGI Canada’s goal of 40 per cent one year ahead of target;
  • $32.5 million in storm claims (all provinces).

SGI Canada now has 970,000 customers across the country.

For more information, visit www.sgi.sk.ca.

Road tests to expand July 8 with phased approach

Road tests to expand July 8 with phased approach

ICBC is continuing to expand its road testing by opening it up to all customers through a phased approach. This builds upon the successful reopening of commercial vehicle road tests in June, in line with B.C.’s Restart Plan.

ICBC’s road test plan helps British Columbians get the services they need while ensuring important health and safety protocols can be implemented, monitored and maintained as testing increases.

Timeline

The following plan is contingent on the state of the pandemic in the province and may be adjusted based on the need to ensure the ongoing health and safety of both customers and staff. Specifically, the ongoing availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key factor that ICBC is monitoring at this time.

  • Motorcycle road tests: available as of July 8; customers may book online.

  • Recreational Trailer (Class 4 and 5 endorsement) road tests: available as of July 8; customers may call ICBC (1-800-950-1498) to book an appointment.

  • Priority testing for essential health care workers and first responders who require a licence for work; workers may call ICBC today (1-800-950-1498) to book. Information will be requested to establish eligibility.

  • Private Passenger Vehicle (Class 5 and 7) road tests:

    • Priority testing for customers with tests cancelled between March 17 and March 30; ICBC will start calling customers this week to rebook; road tests to begin July 20.

    • Following this first grouping, ICBC will then be prioritizing the re-booking of customers who had road tests cancelled after March 30. It is expected that these customers will be able to re-book through the month of August.

    • More details on the timing for new road test bookings will be provided in the following weeks.

  • Enhanced Road Assessments: ICBC will call to rebook customers whose assessments were cancelled between March 17 and March 30. All other customers requiring a medical fitness assessment will receive a letter from RoadSafetyBC.

  • Commercial road tests (Class 1 – 4), motorcycle skills tests, and knowledge tests are available for booking.

  • Other services: ICBC’s offices have remained open during the pandemic while also offering customers the option to renew a 90-day temporary driver’s licence by phone. To manage the demand and volume of customers in an office at any given time, ICBC is also looking to move to an appointment system for in-office visits, including driver licence renewals. More information will be provided when plans are finalized.

What to Expect

  • Making an appointment: Due to the expected high volume of calls, we ask for customers’ patience during this time. Customers whose appointment was cancelled between March 17 and March 30 will not need to call – ICBC will call affected customers. For all other customers, they are strongly encouraged to book online if the option is available for their test type.

  • Before the appointment: Customers are asked to review the vehicle safety checklist and ensure that the interior of their vehicle is clean.

  • Upon arrival: Customers are asked to arrive on-time with the required identification. They will be asked a series of health screening questions and provided a mask that must be worn for the duration of the road test.

    Due to the nature of the motorcycle road test, riders will not be provided a mask, but will be required to wear a safety vest provided by ICBC, which will be sanitized before each use.

  • Testing: Driver examiners will continue to conduct road tests from inside the customer’s vehicle to ensure the examiner is able to fully assess the customer’s driving skills and to take control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency. Driver examiners will wear appropriate PPE during the test.

    For motorcycle road tests, the testing environment remains unchanged. The examiner rides behind the rider in a car, speaking to the rider by two-way radio.

For more information on ICBC’s services during the pandemic, visit: https://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/contact-us/Pages/covid-19.aspx

IBC – ICBC No-Fault Design will Further Limit Consumer Choice

VANCOUVER, BC, July 7, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) published an open letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, outlining the auto insurance industry’s concern with Bill 11 – Attorney General Statues (Vehicle Insurance) Amendment Act, 2020. IBC also provided a list of legislative amendments to the government that, if implemented, would give consumers more choice and help to lower auto insurance rates in the province.

As currently designed, Bill 11 will further limit consumer choice, create new barriers to stifle the limited competition that currently exists in BC’s optional auto insurance market, and risks driving other insurers out of BC’s optional auto insurance market entirely.

As part of the move to a no-fault system, Bill 11 creates a new mandatory Basic Vehicle Damage coverage that is only available through the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). This product will provide coverage for vehicle replacement and repair when a driver is not responsible for an accident. Today, these repairs can be covered by the third-party liability insurance of the driver responsible for an accident, which is open to choice and competition above ICBC’s basic limits.

“Bill 11 will reduce what little choice drivers have in BC’s optional auto insurance market,” said Aaron Sutherland, Vice-President, Pacific, IBC. “There is no rationale for this expansion of ICBC’s monopoly over vehicle damage insurance. 

A better, more affordable auto insurance system would allow drivers to purchase this coverage from any insurer they choose.”

IBC has suggested a number of amendments to Bill 11 that would provide consumers with choice in vehicle damage coverage – whether that coverage is mandatory or optional. This would make BC similar to the no-fault system in Quebec, where injury coverages are provided by the government insurer and vehicle damage coverages are provided by private insurers. Total premiums in Quebec (including the government’s no-fault coverage) are $717 on average1, less than half the $1,500 that ICBC projects its no-fault insurance will cost.

If enacted, IBC’s suggested amendments would create a more competitive market for vehicle damage coverage and, most importantly, would improve the affordability of this coverage over the long term. This would be particularly true if the government were to also remove the existing barriers to choice and competition in BC and provide all insurers with equal access to driver abstracts and provincial claims information.

“Under ICBC’s monopoly, British Columbians pay more for auto insurance than anyone else in Canada,” noted Sutherland. “Canada’s private insurers want to help lower premiums in the province and are committed to working with the government to create a system that works for everyone.”

QUICK FACTS:

  • ICBC basic insurance currently provides coverage for $200,000 in third-party liability, accident benefits and uninsured motorist protection. Optional insurance provides excess third-party liability (above $200,000), as well as comprehensive and collision insurance.
  • Today, vehicle damage claims are paid from the third-party liability coverage of the driver responsible for the crash. Bill 11’s Basic Vehicle Damage Coverage will move this coverage under ICBC’s basic policy and cover repairs when the driver is not at fault.
  • Removing excess third-party liability coverage under no-fault will shrink the optional insurance market by up to 30%.
  • Last year, BC drivers spent $2.9 billion on optional insurance, with $300 million of that being spent on policies with private insurers.
  • In Quebec (a no-fault insurance province), drivers have full choice in who they purchase their vehicle damage coverage from – both mandatory and optional. Total annual auto insurance premiums (including the government’s no-fault coverage) in that province are $717 on average, less than half the projected cost of ICBC’s no-fault insurance ($1,500).

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, pays $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 us on Twitter @IBC_Pacific or 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 2018, the most recent full-year available

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

www.ibc.ca

Ontario announces task force to review ways to revamp tow truck industry

By Michelle McQuigge

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ A wave of alleged criminal activity rocking Ontario’s tow truck industry clearly shows the need for stronger oversight, Premier Doug Ford said Monday as he announced a newly appointed task force would be reviewing ways to overhaul the sector.

The group, consisting of officials from across numerous government ministries as well as the Ontario Provincial Police, will draft a new regulatory framework for the sector that has wound up in the crosshairs of at least two high-profile police probes in recent months.

Ford cited the investigations by both the Toronto and York Regional Police services when announcing the task force.

“To all the bad actors out there, my message is very clear the party’s over,” Ford said at a news conference.  “We’re coming for you, and we’ll catch you, and we will lock you up.”

York police said last month that a number of industry players were facing charges following an investigation dubbed Project Platinum that spanned several jurisdictions but concentrated on the Greater Toronto Area.

Supt. Mike Slack of the force’s organized crime and intelligence services said at the time that a lucrative turf war had erupted along stretches of major provincial highways, resulting in charges ranging from murder to arson. None of those charges have yet been proven in court.

Slack alleged multiple tow truck companies, all with ties to organized crime, had defraudeinsurance companies with vehicles involved in real and staged collisions. He alleged the companies would grossly inflate towing bills, move cars from lot to lot to increase storage fees and inflate repair bills.

Body shops and car rental companies were in on the schemes, Slack said, and would receive  “profitable cuts for themselves.”

Insurance companies grew wise to the alleged frauds, Slack said, prompting them to hire a Vaughan, Ont., law firm to help them push back against the scams. That firm, police alleged, itself became a target of threats and gun violence and was ultimately forced to close up shop.

Project Platinum ultimately resulted in dozens of charges against at least 20 people. Weeks later, Toronto police charged 11 others in an investigation of its own that ensnared a veteran officer.

The officer was accused of stealing encrypted police radios and helping to put them in the hands of tow truck operators. Those drivers would then rely on dispatch information to arrive first at accident scenes and secure lucrative towing jobs, the force alleged.

In reviewing the mandate of the new task force, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said that practice would be among the many issues flagged for review.

“This is an element that contributes to the violence,” she said. “It’s certainly something that we will be looking at as part of the task force’s work.”

The task force will also be asked to provide recommendations for a new regulatory framework, which could potentially replace the current system that leaves the towing industry subject to a patchwork of regulations set by municipalities rather than the province.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones agreed Monday that it was time for tighter regulations.

“(Towing companies) are operating in an industry that lacks oversight and structure, and where too many criminals are making their own rules,” she said. “A spike in violence within the industry … is a threat to Ontarians and public safety, and it must end.”

The government said the task force would also review issues such as stronger consumer protections, training and background checks for industry members.

Mulroney said the group has been asked to present its recommendations by the end of July, which will then be shared with sector members and municipalities for input before any government action on the issue gets underway.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

Desjardins to give $100M back to its Canadian auto insurance clients

MONTREAL, June 29, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, Desjardins’s property & casualty insurance subsidiaries announced they would be issuing $100 million in premium refunds to their Canadian auto insurance clients. The refunds are for eligible personal and commercial insurance clients, who will receive a refund between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the premium they pay for one month, depending on their market realities. The refund will apply to policies for eligible personal and commercial vehicles.

All told, 2.1 million clients will automatically receive the refund through their usual payment method, so they don’t need to do anything.

More people are working from home than ever before. Combined with the extended lockdown, this means that travel has been limited and car accident risks have been reduced. Fewer accidents mean fewer claims to pay out, so Desjardins has decided to reflect this reality by issuing this refund to its clients.

“Even though we’re beginning to reopen our provinces and cities, the pandemic will continue to affect our members and clients. We’re proud to say that we’re still here for them in these unprecedented times. Right now, we’re able to give $100 million back to our auto insurance clients. This is just one of the many ways that Desjardins has helped its members and clients deal with COVID-19 since March 16,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.

Today’s announcement follows an initial refund of close to $50 million to auto insurance clients, bringing the total close to $150 million.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $326.9 billion. It has been rated one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has some of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

https://www.desjardins.com/

IBC Congratulates Ontario Government On Announcement to Increase Oversight of Towing Industry

TORONTO, June 29, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, the Ontario government announced the creation of a new task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry. The task force will help develop a regulatory model to increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers and improve towing industry standards. It will also consider tougher penalties for offenders.

“IBC applauds the Ontario government for taking action against criminal activity and violence in the towing industry,” said Kim Donaldson, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC. “Insurance fraud is a safety issue for consumers. Lives can be put at risk as a result of these criminal actions. Insurance fraud costs Canadians in higher insurance premiums, and strains our already burdened health care services, emergency services and court systems,” added Donaldson.

The task force will review a number of topics related to the towing industry, which could include provincial oversight of safety, consumer protection, improved industry standards, training and background checks.

As part of the review, the task force may consider opportunities for increased protections for consumers against the first-to-scene unethical business practices that lead to accident chasing, insurance savings through a crackdown on insurance fraud rings, and improved consumer choice for payments and repairs. The province is also reviewing ways to clear accidents faster from the roadside, which would minimize lane reductions and reduce congestion on Ontario highways.

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, pays $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 us on Twitter @IBC_Ontario or 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.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

www.ibc.ca

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