Alberta 'taking action' on car insurance, exploring reforms
EDMONTON -- A new committee will advise the province on potential reform of Alberta's automobile insurance system.
Finance Minister Travis Toews introduced the three-member committee in Edmonton on Wednesday.
"This issue is such a significant issue that touches every Albertan," Toews said. "To assemble a very credible, experienced committee like this, I believe we will be best-informed to make decisions around automobile insurance."
The committee members are legal expert Shelley Miller, medical expert Dr. Larry Ohlhauser and consumer and insurance industry expert Chris Daniel, who will serve as chair.
"We will identify best practices that are affordable, implementable and not only fair to Albertans but respond to their needs, striking that balance between coverage and premium," Daniel said.
Insurance rates are expected to increase more in the new year, after the auto insurance rate cap implemented by the previous NDP government expired on Aug. 31.
Toews said the cap was a Band-Aid solution and actually made the problem worse for consumers.
"Ultimately, we were seeing Albertans running out of affordable options and options that could meet their needs," he said. "There were some Albertans who were struggling to find collision coverage or comprehensive coverage. They were being limited in terms of their rate plans. All of that was pointing to a model that simply wasn't sustainable in the long term."
The NDP is calling for the rate cap to be reinstated.
“Since we introduced that five per cent cap, families were able to continue affording auto insurance,” said NDP MLA for Edmonton-West Henday Jon Carson. “What we’re seeing now with the increases that are happening to Alberta families is simply unreasonable.”
The Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta told CTV News Edmonton in November that the cap and the rising expense of vehicle claims were costing companies 12 cents on every dollar. The industry organization said consumers should expect rate increases to match a double-digit difference many companies have been experiencing.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada expressed support for the review and will participate in the consultation process on behalf of Alberta's auto insurers.
"Alberta's auto insurance system used to be the envy of other provinces, working well for over a decade. Unfortunately, increases in payouts for minor injuries has led the average claim size to increase by nearly 10% per year," said Celyeste Power with IBC in a written release. "We want to work with stakeholders to help focus the system on what consumers want and are encouraged that the government is undertaking this important review."
The committee will engage with Albertans, the insurance industry, medical services and the legal profession in the coming weeks to investigate what is and isn't working.
It will make recommendations to the minister in the spring.