Canadian Auto Insurers, Consumer Group Clash Over Ontario Premiums

July 24, 2005

Canada’s auto insurers are disputing a recent study that showed Ontario drivers’ auto insurance rates are as much as 45 percent higher than those for British Columbia motorists.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said that premiums in Ontario are down 15 percent since November 2003. The average auto premium in the province is now $1,279, according to the latest industry-wide data.

The Consumers’ Association of Canada on July 19 reported that consumers in Ontario pay 45 percent more for their auto insurance than B.C. consumers, and that the average auto insurance rate in Ontario was $2,383 while it was $1,324 in B.C.

Acording to Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association, “Consumers in Ontario have been clearly harmed by outrageous price increases for auto insurance over the past three years. Victims of crashes have also been impacted by the Ontario Government’s actions of imposing a $30,000 deductible on benefits paid to them. Innocent victims of crashes have suffered at the hands of the insurance industry while this industry continues to put billions of dollars of profits in its pockets,” said Cran.

But the industry has a different view.

“Clearly, free market, private competition is alive and well in Ontario,” said Mark Yakabuski, IBC vice president for federal affairs and Ontario. “Auto insurance rates, as posted with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, are down by more than
13.3 percent. The fact that premiums actually being paid are down 15 percent shows that drivers are shopping around and finding even lower premiums.”

In addition, insurance availability is improving, according to the industry, pointing to the declining number of drivers insured through Facility Association (FA), the last-resort insurer for drivers. FA population is way down – to 36,868 vehicles in June of this year from 226,108 in March 2004. In terms of market share, FA has moved from 3.8 percent of the
market to just 0.6 percent.

“More and more drivers are finding a home in the regular market, showing that insurers are aggressively competing for business,” Yakabuski said.

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