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Newfoundland

 

Atlantic Canadians want government to do more to control auto insurance rates: Poll

ST. JOHN'S, NF, July 25 /CNW/ - More than one-half of Atlantic Canadians believe that changes in the current automobile insurance system are needed, which is consistent with figures reported a year ago, according to a report released today by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The poll was conducted in June, 2002, by Corporate Research Associates of Halifax.Overall, a plurality of Atlantic Canadians still believe that the provincial government has a responsibility to deal with the issue of rising automobile insurance rates. This number has increased since last year. Results also suggest that the number of Atlantic residents who believe increasing rates should be addressed by either consumers or the public utilities and regulatory boards has just about doubled.

A large majority of Atlantic residents believe that rates have increased over the past few years, primarily because of the rising cost of claims and injuries. Eighty-one per cent of those asked said the cost of auto insurance has increased either significantly or somewhat in the past few years. Forty-four per cent point to rising costs of claims and injuries as the number one contributing factor behind higher auto insurance costs. To a lesser extent,
public perception is that these higher costs are a result of insurance fraud or false claims. Fewer believe that hikes are related to insurance profitability.

"For many years, insurers have been asking governments to make the much-needed changes for the sake of all drivers in Atlantic Canada," says Don Forgeron, Regional Vice-President of the Insurance Bureau of Canada."We are sharing these recent results with government officials because it is they who decide, through legislation, on the kind of auto insurance companies are allowed to sell," says Forgeron.

When asked what amount of insurance claim payments should be directed toward expenses such as medical rehabilitation, pain and suffering, repairs to vehicles, and compensation for lost income; residents ranked medical rehabilitation and repairs to vehicles as the most important priorities.

"In reality, the opposite trend is actually occurring," says Forgeron. "A recent study on bodily injury closed claim files tells us that the highest percentage of claims dollars goes towards compensation for pain and suffering."

The Bodily Injury Closed Claim studies conducted in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland indicate that the percentage of total settlement dollars that goes towards compensation for pain and suffering is 61%, 67% and 57% respectively. These studies also reveal that in New Brunswick, the percentage of settlement dollars that goes towards lost income and medical rehabilitation is approximately 31%; in Nova Scotia, 23%; and in Newfoundland, 36%.

Industry estimates that the percentage of total settlement dollars that goes towards repairing vehicles in New Brunswick is approximately 21%; in Nova Scotia, 24%; and in Newfoundland, 23%. The data was collected through telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1504 residents in Atlantic Canada, age 18+. A sample of this size
can expect to yield a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.5 percent.

A copy of the report highlights and statistical breakdowns by province is available at the Insurance Bureau of Canada's consumer centre in Halifax (902-429-2730, ext. 227 or at 1-800-565-7189, ext. 227) or you can download a copy from the IBC web site at www.ibc.ca.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents about 200 companies that provide more than 90 per cent of the non-government home, car and business insurance sold in Canada. Visit the media section of the bureau's Web site for more news releases and information.