New Report Outlines Answers for Challenges in Atlantic Provinces

December 7, 2005

The Atlantic Task Force on Insurance Availability and Affordability
released its final report at a media conference recently in Halifax, Canada.

The report, which makes a number of concrete recommendations intended to help commercial insurance customers and voluntary organizations, calls for action from the insurance industry and government, as well as the businesses and voluntary sector organizations that depend on commercial insurance.

“This was a collaborative effort which, in the end, has produced a comprehensive set of forward-looking recommendations. Even though we know the picture is better for many customers today than when the task force was formed, we also know that insurance is a cyclical business, and that solutions we put in place today will help alleviate some of the problems tomorrow,” said Don Forgeron, vice president, Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Formed in February 2005, the task force was chaired by IBC and includes representatives from the business and voluntary sectors, the insurance industry, and all four Atlantic governments, who held observer status.

The task force’s mandate was to develop recommendations to improve insurance availability and affordability for commercial and non-profit organizations in Atlantic Canada, and to foster a greater mutual understanding between insurers and their commercial clients.

Several recommendations in the report centre on risk management – one urging insurers to make information available on how consumers can reduce their risk of having to make a claim, and another urging insurance consumers to put this information into practice, using a risk management education tool developed by the task force, and now available on the IBC Web site at www.ibc.ca.

“Making risk management strategies available, especially to smaller operators, was very important,” said RĂ©al Robichaud, executive director, Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, and member of the task force. “Obviously, this is one way for our members to reduce their insurance costs. The task force has done a good job of identifying others.”

Recognizing the importance of the voluntary sector to local economies and community life, the task force commissioned a study of this sector in particular, with the goal of recommending solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of voluntary organizations. Some of the recommendations from the study were incorporated into the main task force report, including a call for government to work with insurers and the voluntary sector to help non-profit organizations find the right insurance at the best possible price.

Jamie Ferguson, CEO of Sport Nova Scotia, represented sporting and recreational organizations on the task force. “We are pleased to be a part of the important work of this Task Force,” he said. “The sporting sector was hit hard the last time the insurance market took a downturn. I think involving all parties in this process has lead to recommendations that could help minimize the impact if another
downturn was to occur.”

Other recommendations in the report include a call on governments to reduce the tax burden on insurance consumers and look at potential legislative changes that have reduced insurance costs in other jurisdictions.

For its part, the insurance industry is tasked with improving its communication with consumers. One recommendation in particular, which is already in the process of being implemented, calls on the industry to amend its Consumer Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

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