What an in­sur­ance cap re­ally means

Northern Pen - - Front page -

The in­juries in­flicted by reck­less, dis­tracted and drunk driv­ers can of­ten be life-al­ter­ing. The in­sur­ance com­pa­nies like to call them “mi­nor.”

The vic­tims’ rights at stake in the cur­rent Public Util­i­ties Board auto in­sur­ance re­view, like so many other is­sues, doesn’t re­ally hit home to most peo­ple un­til they feel it per­son­ally.

That is the dif­fi­culty with telling peo­ple they are about to lose some­thing that they don’t even know they need. All you have to do is ask a per­son who has been in­jured by a drunk or reck­less driver. Ask a pedes­trian who was knocked down at a crosswalk. Please ask a par­ent whose child was in the car when a driver that was tex­ting hits them from be­hind, wip­ing out that child’s sum­mer hol­i­day and send­ing them to physio in­stead of the soccer pitch.

The in­juries in­flicted by reck­less, dis­tracted and drunk driv­ers can of­ten be life-al­ter­ing. The in­sur­ance com­pa­nies like to call them “mi­nor.” But daily we see peo­ple with so-called “mi­nor” in­juries who can­not work, lift their ba­bies, walk up a flight of stairs or en­joy sim­ple, every­day tasks. In­sur­ance com­pa­nies want to cap these “mi­nor” in­juries in order to save money, not be­cause it will lower in­sur­ance rates. The vice-pres­i­dent of In­tact In­sur­ance, Natalie Hig­gins, has al­ready said pub­licly that a cap will not lower rates (April 13, 2018). The In­sur­ance Bureau of Canada has also con­firmed that a cap will not bring rates down.

The auto in­sur­ance industry wants a cap on com­pen­sa­tion for ve­hi­cle-re­lated in­juries be­cause they say claims costs are up, and they use the cost of a bumper as an ex­am­ple, not bod­ily in­juries. The truth is pre­mi­ums for at-fault third party li­a­bil­ity cov­er­age have been sta­ble in this province for many years. Fur­ther, the Gen­eral In­sur­ance Sta­tis­ti­cal Agency re­ports that au­to­mo­bile claims fre­quency rates are at a 20-year low, and the RNC re­ports ac­ci­dent rates are de­clin­ing over­all in N.L.

What the auto in­sur­ance industry doesn’t want you to know is that in 2016, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies in New­found­land and Labrador took in about $100 mil­lion more than the claims it paid out. They also don’t want you to know that the in­sur­ance industry in Canada self-re­ported an ex­or­bi­tant in­vest­ment profit of $986 mil­lion in the first three months of 2017.

So, to be clear, the auto in­sur­ance industry doesn’t need the money. They want to de­cide what your pain is worth when you are in­jured in an ac­ci­dent. Do we re­ally believe that in­sur­ance com­pa­nies want to pay out money to any­one? Of course not. So, without the ro­bust process we have now of en­sur­ing you have an op­por­tu­nity to fight them for fair com­pen­sa­tion, vic­tims of car ac­ci­dents will be of­fered $2,500 or a max­i­mum of $5,000 and asked to im­me­di­ately sign away their rights to all fu­ture claims on that ac­ci­dent. What about if in six months from now, you are worse? What about in one year from now it is de­ter­mined you had much more se­ri­ous prob­lems than were known at the be­gin­ning?

You will have been forced to give up your rights for a small pay­ment so the in­sur­ance industry can make more money, and so that they can in­vest more money out­side of New­found­land and Labrador.

It sim­ply isn’t right. And frankly, if your lawyers don’t speak up on this is­sue, you could be the next vic­tim who stands to lose.

Blair Rogers

Tor­bay

Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ac­ci­dent Vic­tims

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