June 18, 2013 by Mary Lou O'Reilly
Rising auto insurance premiums were becoming a massive public issue. Then along came “the wheelbarrow lady”—a woman who said she was forced to shop using a wheelbarrow because she could no longer afford car insurance.
She became a rallying symbol for public anger and frustration. Politicians felt the public pressure and New Brunswick teetered on the brink of bringing in a government-run auto insurance system.
That’s when our industry, led by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), really stepped up its efforts. It’s no exaggeration to say that insurers and brokers working together on integrated government, public and media relations saved the industry in New Brunswick.
We developed a concrete plan to improve auto insurance in the province and, in the process, dramatically improved our relationship with decision makers and the public. Today, our industry still enjoys a good reputation in New Brunswick.
A critical ingredient in that successful effort was our commitment to keep the needs of consumers—fair benefits, affordable premiums—at the centre of our efforts.
That’s just one example of our industry’s record of success influencing public opinion to the benefit of that same public:
The profile of achievement, going back nearly 50 years to IBC’s founding, continues today.
Once again, auto insurance in Ontario is being used by political opportunists, who are spreading misinformation to blame insurers for the faults of a broken system.
And, once again, IBC is leading the counter-charge to replace myth with truth, accusation with cooperation, and anger with understanding.
For nearly a year now, we have been conducting a coordinated campaign to educate and inform both the public and decision-makers. Our message: auto insurance is too expensive in Ontario, because the system is too expensive. Ontario’s Cadillac insurance system carries a Cadillac price tag.
The message is simple, but the “Time to Talk” campaign to spread that message is a complex tapestry of strategies and tactics. A short list includes:
Throughout all of these and many other activities, IBC is making it clear to governments and decision-makers that we are on the consumers’ side. We agree that premiums are too high, are helping people understand why that is, and proposing workable solutions.
In short, our industry is bringing unmatched experience and knowledge to the challenge of the Ontario auto file. We are doing our part; it is time for political decision-makers to do theirs.
Mary Lou O’Reilly is senior vice-president, communications and issues management, for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the May 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.
This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.