Canadian Underwriter

Auto Reform on the Table in New Brunswick, Quebec

February 1, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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In his annual “state of the province” address, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord took a shot at auto insurers and hinted at further reforms to come for the province’s system.

While Lord noted that almost $23 million in rebates have been handed out to New Brunswick drivers since last summer, he says, “Insurance companies are not moving far and fast enough to respond to reforms we have made to the auto insurance system.”

He adds the province will be introducing further changes to the system in 2004.

And while Lord says he supports a free, competitive market, he also noted his anticipation of the final report by a committee looking into a public auto insurance system for the province, expected by the end of February.

In Quebec, hoping to stem the tide of auto insurance reform, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has launched a new website to discuss why the system should not be changed.

The site,, is intended to educate Quebec residents about what changing the current system – a mix of government and private coverage – could potentially mean. The government wants a system that will put more onus on at-fault drivers to pay for personal injuries as a result of accident – this means auto insurers and ultimately their policyholders may have to pick up the tab.

“We certainly understand why accident victims and their families feel the way they do about criminal drivers,” notes Jacques Valotaire, chair of IBC’s Quebec committee. “However, we believe that the automobile insurance plan should first and foremost address the compensation issue.”

In a recent survey of Quebecers, the IBC found that while 65% said they were in favor of the changes, this dropped to 44% when respondents were given examples of what the changes would mean in practice. Similarly, while 34% were only slightly or not at all in favor of the changes, the number of naysayers jumped to 56% when respondents were faced with possible outcomes of the changes.