Gov­ern­ment or­ders in­sur­ance re­view

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - BY JAMES MCLEOD

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment launched a ma­jor re­view of au­to­mo­bile in­sur­ance rates in the prov­ince to fig­ure out why New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans are forced to pay more than driv­ers in the rest of At­lantic Canada.

Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ed­die Joyce and Ser­vice NL par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary Bernard Davis an­nounced last Tues­day the gov­ern­ment is ask­ing the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board to study in­sur­ance, and come up with rec­om­men­da­tions for how to re­duce in­sur­ance costs, with the aim of en­act­ing leg­is­la­tion in the fall of 2018.

Driv­ers here pay on av­er­age about $1,100 for their in­sur­ance, com­pared to less than $800 on av­er­age in the rest of At­lantic Canada.

“Re­form­ing auto in­sur­ance in this prov­ince is a key part of our cam­paign plat­form — a prom­ise we made to the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador,” Joyce said.

“We just know that they’re up, and the pub­lic wants some an­swers to bring the rates down.”

The plan is for the PUB to con­duct a two-phase ap­proach, first do­ing a de­tailed re­view of closed in­sur­ance claims in the prov­ince to fig­ure out why costs for the com­pa­nies are higher than other prov­inces.

Sep­a­rately, the PUB has been di­rected to do a re­view of taxi in­sur­ance claims, be­cause rates for cab driv­ers are a spe­cial con­cern.

In the sec­ond phase of the re­view, the PUB will re­view the dif­fer­ent in­sur­ance plans of­fered and do a ju­ris­dic­tional scan across Canada to fig­ure out if any­thing can be changed to re­duce costs.

When it comes to taxis, specif­i­cally, Doug Mccarthy said the news is very wel­come. Mccarthy is the spokesman for the Taxi Owner Al­liance of N.L. and he said they’ve been deal­ing with ma­jor in­sur­ance hikes in re­cent years.

“We are look­ing at rates right now that are driv­ing us out of business faster than we can pick up cus­tomers,” Mccarthy said.

“We are to the point now that if some­thing dras­tic doesn’t hap­pen, by 2018 there will be no taxis in New­found­land and Labrador.”

Ja­son Sharpe, pres­i­dent elect of the In­sur­ance Bro­kers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of N.L. was also op­ti­mistic that good things would come out of the PUB re­view, es­pe­cially the study of past in­sur­ance claims.

“I mean, I think the closed claim study in the first step in that mat­ter — to find out what ex­actly is wrong with the in­sur­ance rates in New­found­land,” Sharpe said.

“I don’t think they’re, you know, goug­ing peo­ple in New­found­land at all. I just think the prod­uct it­self needs to be re­viewed, and hope­fully we can get to the bot­tom of it.”

New Demo­crat MHA Lor­raine Michael said she ex­pects her party will present at the PUB, ad­vo­cat­ing for a pub­lic au­to­mo­bile in­sur­ance sys­tem, in­stead of a cor­po­rate model.

“We al­ways said that it would be a good way to go, be­cause we know in the prov­inces where they have it, it’s there for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple,” Michael said. “It’s not there to make money for the com­pany; it’s there for the ben­e­fit of the con­sumer.”

SUB­MIT­TED

This graph, pro­vided to me­dia by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, shows N.L. car in­sur­ance rates are higher than other At­lantic prov­inces in re­cent years. The gov­ern­ment is or­der­ing the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board to do a re­view to try to bring costs down.

PHOTO BY JAMES MCLEOD

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has or­dered a re­view into au­to­mo­bile rates in NL.

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