June 13, 2002 by Canadian Underwriter
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is urging the provincial government to make changes to auto insurance in New Brunswick. In its submission to the Select Committee on Private Passenger Automobile Insurance in Fredericton, IBC has provided various models for auto reform to maintain an affordable and available product for New Brunswick drivers.
The role of the select committee is to study auto insurance issues in New Brunswick, including availability and pricing, and possible improvements to the current system. The committee will make recommendations for change to the government.
“Research shows the main reason for rising auto rates is soft tissue injury claims. Even though accident rates have dropped in each province in the region, the number of bodily injury claims continues to rise,” says Don Forgeron, IBC’s Atlantic vice president.
“There needs to be a balance between auto insurance premiums and compensation provided to accident victims. If the insurance industry pays out increasingly higher amounts in claims under the current system, people could end up facing higher premiums,” says Forgeron.
“Car insurance premiums in each province in the region have increased for a reason – the growing practice of hiring a lawyer after every car accident,” says Forgeron. “It’s no longer simply about helping people get well following an accident. Now, it’s about how much extra money a person can receive for even the most minor of injuries – such as a sore neck or sore back.”
IBC has told the committee that one model for auto reform is not necessarily better than another model – that each option has unique characteristics that should be considered before changes are made to the current system.
“Those opposed to any type of reform have suggested that our industry is proposing a ‘no fault-only’ solution. The reality is that we’ve been encouraging a broader discussion at every opportunity – one that should involve the citizens of New Brunswick – not just single interest groups,” says Forgeron.
“Consumers in New Brunswick deserve a type of auto insurance that will ultimately benefit them through cost-savings, and it’s important for the select committee to make recommendations that would provide such a product.”
“We have to get back to the real reason for insurance – to return injured persons, as nearly as possible and as quickly as possible, to their condition before an accident,” Forgeron says. “We have to find a way to do this at the lowest possible cost to all consumers.”