Manitoba’s drivers could be paying even lower rates in the coming year if the public insurer there has its way. Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has applied to the Public Utilities Board for an overall premium reduction of 1.2%, the fourth consecutive year of rate reductions in that province, according to an MPI press release. The reduction, if approved, comes in the same year MPI has instituted a one-time discount of 16.6%, or $77 million overall. Average premiums under the 1.2% reduction would be $549 in 2002, $3 less than the average in 1998, says Jack Zacharias, president and CEO of MPI. “How many things are cheaper today than they were in 1998 – certainly not buying a new vehicle or filling it with gas.” Some drivers, however, will see an increase in rates, the result of being in categories with increased claims costs. Commercial vehicles rates will rise 11.5% and motorcycles rates will go up 15%. MPI also tabled its annual financial report with the provincial legislature, citing a net income of $46.5 million, with $38.1 million of that coming from its Basic Autopac policies.