Insurers acting through the industry’s national lobby body, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), are currently engaged in high-level meetings with provincial government officials in Atlantic Canada with a view to introducing rapid reform to the basic auto insurance product. The need to take corrective action in lieu of the significant rise in auto claim costs arising from the Maritime provinces has become critical, says the IBC’s regional vice president, Don Forgeron. The IBC is also conducting a public opinion survey to gauge motorists’ attitudes and understanding of auto insurance. "to find out the level of understanding of [insurance] industry issues and the tolerance for changes to auto insurance products". The IBC expects insurers will begin introducing premium rate hikes in Atlantic Canada over the next six to 18 months. "As consumers feel the effects of these rising costs over the next six to 18 months, government and industry leaders will be called upon to respond. In addition to meeting with government officials to ensure that they fully understand the problem, we’re working to provide a range of solutions," says Forgeron. This call to action comes on the back of the release of the IBC’s annual industry loss estimates for the Atlantic region for the 2000 and 1999 financial years. Insurers incurred a hefty $190 million loss on auto claims from the region for 2000, while earlier estimates for 1999’s loss has been risen to $150 million from $100 million. The biggest cost increase over the two years has been claims relating to "soft tissue injuries". And, while the frequency of claims had been declining for several years prior to 1999, this trend has reversed with the average cost per claim also increasing. "In recent years, the frequency of claims has started to rise again, creating the worst possible scenario, a higher average cost per claim and more of them," Forgeron notes.