March 23, 2004 by Canadian Underwriter
Responding to a published letter by Quebec’s justice minister, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) says the government is being overly-optimistic about the level of public support for auto reform in that province.
According to CAA-Quebec, Minister Marc Bellemare’s references to a government survey showing public support for changes to the current system a mix of public liability and private collision coverages belies further studies showing public support drops when the impact of changing the system is known.
CAA-Quebec and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) have each conducted studies which asked respondents about their support for changes to the system the only one in which private auto insurers are currently profitable in light of the potential impact of changes.
CAA0-Quebec’s study shows, for example, that when additional information is given, support for a change to allow tort access drops to 34% from 69%. “The numbers tend to confirm that the public really knows very little about the ins-and-outs of this question,” states a CAA release. “Because of this, CAA-Quebec believes the government should ensure that Quebecers are better informed about the workings of the existing system compensation regardless of fault and of the possible consequences of the changes Mr. Bellemare is proposing.”
The changes, to a fault-based system, were conceived to place more onus on the at-fault driver and therefore encourage greater road safety. The government has pointed to a study by the Fraser Institute suggesting public insurance systems lead to more dangerous driving by keeping rates low even for unsafe drivers. CAA-Quebec says the Fraser study is “filled with contradictions and inconsistencies”, specifically in that it did not study Quebec’s hybrid system, but systems in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where all the basic auto insurance is publicly provided.