Canadian Underwriter

Liberals win in New Brunswick; auto insurance reforms next?

September 19, 2006   by Canadian Underwriter

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New Brunswick’s Liberal Party, led by Premier Shawn Graham, has been elected to government, raising the question of what — if anything — will happen next regarding the introduction of public auto insurance in the province.
Graham’s party came to power winning 29 of the province’s 55 seats. He defeated former premier Bernard Lord, whose Conservative Party has held power for the past seven years.
The possibility of introducing a public auto insurance system in New Brunswick became a flashpoint during the election. For example, Greg Byrne, a Liberal candidate running in Fredericton, said during the campaign that motorists in the province still are paying the highest premiums in Atlantic Canada “despite the insurance industry’s soaring profits.”
Canadian Press quoted Byrne during the campaign as saying a Liberal government would give the insurance industry 60 days to suggest ways to lower rates, or a public auto insurance system would be considered.
“There are significant profits being made and there should be benefit passed to consumers,” Byrne was quoted as saying.”The industry has an opportunity to correct that and if they don’t, we will look at a public insurance system.”
At the time, Lord told reporters that reforms introduced by his Conservative government in 2003 had lowered rates. Lord told CP that a public auto insurance scheme — which was recommended by a legislature committee — would actually be more expensive.
Don Forgeron, the Atlantic vice-president of the Insurance Board of Canada (IBC), said the Liberals were basing their arguments on a media report that skewed the actual numbers. He went on to note that government reforms have lowered rates in New Brunswick by an average of 30%.

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