Canadian Underwriter

Intact ready to work with new Alberta government, likes Ontario budget

May 8, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Alberta legislature building in Edmonton

All signs point to positive for Intact when it comes to working with Alberta’s new government.

Jason Kenney led the United Conservative Party to victory in April, returning a Conservative government to power after four years of rule by the New Democratic Party. While auto insurance may not be a top priority at this time, Darren Godfrey, senior vice president, personal lines at Intact, said the government understands the challenges, like the need for a reduction in red tape, reducing regulation and boosting the marketplace so that it’s more competitive.

“We welcome the new government; we look forward to working with them,” he said during a first quarter earnings conference call. “They understand our issues. We’re hopeful that Alberta drivers will see a competitive market moving forward.”

Charles Brindamour, Intact’s chief executive officer, noted that there are issues in the province around the definition of minor injuries, calling them “tight,” which has hindered people from seeking pain and suffering awards.

“The solution for the current government is very simple … which is to slightly amend that definition to exclude chronic pain for what is a minor injury, and that would alleviate much of the pressure that exists in the marketplace,” he said. “So if this government is pragmatic, there is a practical solution for them that is fairly easy to act upon.”

When looking at Ontario, where a Conservative government led by Premier Doug Ford has been in power since June 2018, many things Brindamour wanted to happen in the government’s first budget seem to be turning into reality.

Brindamour referenced previous comments he made where he hoped the government would make things easier for Ontario drivers by way of eliminating fraud, reducing red tape and creating an environment where insurance companies are aggressively competing for consumer dollars.

“I think what you’ve seen in the budget … is exactly that. Overall, we think this is a step in the right direction for Ontarians. It makes sense. It’s a common sense set up of proposals,” Brindamour said. “Being an Ontario driver, I like what I’m seeing. And as an organization, we’ll support the government to [have] this in place in the marketplace as quickly as possible.”

He also pointed towards an expected increase in written rate changes of upwards of 10 per cent over the next 18-24 months.

“So there’s a fair bit of juice in the system at this time,” Brindamour said.

The market is hardening. Fewer claims and less severity is contributing to good news for the company.

“There’s a fair bit of room left for the industry to move in the coming year or two,” Brindamour said. “So we will find the right balance between growth and margin in that context, but, clearly, a hardening market like what we’re observing in automobile insurance with tightening capacity is a very good market for us to operate in given where we’re sitting today.”

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