Canadian Underwriter

Dominion gets discount approved for “I Promise” program

January 18, 2002   by Canadian Underwriter

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Dominion of Canada General Insurance has been successful in its bid to have a discount approved by Ontario’s insurance regulator for teen drivers in the “I Promise” Program.
Domion CEO George Cooke, a staunch supporter of the program, had applied to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario for permission to offer a discount to policyholders with teen drivers on their policies who are a part of the safe driving program. Late last week approval was given for a discount equal to the value of the program’s cost, to be taken off the bodily injury portion of a policy.
The program involves a safe driving contract signed between teen drivers and their parents, and a decal placed in the car’s window, allowing other drivers on the road to call and report unsafe driving incidents. Those reports will be given directly to parents.
The program’s creator, Gary Direnfeld, says a call center has already been established and all other pieces of the program are in place. Now, forming partnerships with insurers will be the key to making the program a success.
Direnfeld found a supporter in Cooke more than a year ago, and the Dominion CEO has promoted the program to other Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) member companies. The FSCO approval is a “huge” step towards encouraging other insurers to become involved, notes Direnfeld. “This is a coup. It paves the way for all other insurers in the province of Ontario to make similar applications.”
The Co-operators has become involved as well, through a local agent in the Grand Falls-Windsor area of Newfoundland. RCMP Community Policing Officer Donna Ducey took the program to Gary King of G.C. King Insurance Agency Ltd., who in turn convinced local Co-operators agencies to cover half the cost of the program, with parents contributing the rest.
The program is also moving into the U.S., and the Lancaster County Public Health Department, in South Carolina, is promoting the program as a public safety vehicle to deal with its teen car crash rate, which is higher than the national average, Direnfeld reports. They have purchased 100 registrations to distribute.
Direnfeld says that public response to the program has been “outstanding”, and that since Dominion came on board the program, interest from other insurers has soared. “In terms of the success of meeting our primary goal, to reduce teen car crashes, this depends largely on participation by insurance companies,” he says, adding that the program addresses the complementary goals of parents and insurers in reducing accidents.
Given the soaring claims costs insurers are facing, the program is one way to deal with the risks associated with auto insurance, he adds. “And from a consumer’s point of view, rather than paying higher premiums, they would much rather enter into partnerships that would see their kids safer and save insurance companies money.”

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