Canadian Underwriter

How insurers are changing their treatment of distracted driving

October 12, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Some Nova Scotia motorists who are caught using their wireless handheld device while driving could face steeper hikes to their auto insurance premiums.

In a decision released Oct. 4 , the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board approved the Facility Association’s rate filing, which includes an increase – from 15% to 25% – in the surcharge for the first major conviction.

“A 25% increase will continue to be added for each subsequent major conviction. All other conviction surcharges will remain the same,” NSURB member Roberta Clarke wrote.

The Facility Association is not an insurance company but is backstopped by its member insurance companies who underwrite business in Nova Scotia.

In its latest rate filing, the Facility Association also applied to treat a conviction for “using a hand held wireless communication/entertainment device” as major, instead of minor.

“Facility noted that nine of its member companies used the proposed treatment for this conviction.”

NSURB staff reported other insurers are making the same change, “as the risk posed by distracted driving are high and warrant the higher surcharge.”

One of those other insurers is CAA Insurance, which applied to have distracted driving increased from a minor to major conviction.

CAA observed the Insurance Bureau of Canada has stated that distracted driving is equally as dangerous as driving under the influence.

“To raise awareness, CAA proposes to treat any new Distracted Driving conviction as a major conviction.  Existing customers’ Distracted Driving convictions in the past three years would continue to be treated as minor convictions,” NSURB chair Peter W. Gurnham wrote in the regulator’s decision, released Oct 4. approving CAA’s rate changes.

For its part, the Facility Association proposed to move two convictions from major to serious. One is for “Failure to stop on request of or obey directions of a police officer.” Facility Association noted 12 of its member companies use this treatment, Clarke wrote.

“Facility believes this treatment better reflects the significance of such an infraction.”

The Facility Association also proposed to add a conviction for “Driver under 22 years of age with alcohol in blood” to the list of serious convictions.


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