Advocacy Group Raises Concern over Alberta Insurance Premiums Going Up in 2020

Hundreds of Albertans have formed a group to raise concerns over auto insurance rate hikes. The group, Fair Alberta, ranging professionals from lawyers to doctors was formed as an opposing voice to the insurance industry, their mission is to make sure that laws applying to injury victims are reasonable, that auto insurance companies are accountable and that Albertans get fair compensation and treatment options for injuries.

According to the report on the Edmonton Journal, the coalition spoke out after the provincial government removed a 5% insurance rate cap which had been put in place by the former NDP government. This means that many Albertans would soon be paying more, to have their vehicles insured. The government had made a decision to scrap the cap after several companies had complained that they were making less money in premiums than they were paying out in benefits.

Global News, cites a bulletin sent to brokers, which confirmed that large home and auto insurer Aviva Canada said there would be across-the-board hikes of 15 percent beginning from January 2020. The report also confirms that this number could rise depending on driving and claims history.

According to Premier Jason Kenney, recently, the number of personal injury claims filed has grown tremendously, and this has contributed to higher premium costs.

“Lawyers have found loopholes through the restrictions on personal injury awards that were established by the Klein government,” Kenney said quoted on the Edmonton Journal.

“Those restrictions brought control to the cost of insurance in Alberta, but now, as I understand it, personal injury awards have been growing massively, year after year after year, and that’s ultimately what’s forcing up premium costs.”

Mark Feehan, a former president of the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association and spokesperson for Fair Alberta says the group is concerned with the likelihood of more changes to minor injury regulation.

The NDP government had made an amendment in May 2018 to the minor injuries regulation, clarifying that strains, sprains and whiplash injuries are considered minor injuries. Related physical and psychological symptoms and some jaw joint injuries are also defined as minor injuries.

“What they’re asking for is to make the phrase ‘minor injury’ inclusive of concussions and TMJ injuries and chronic pain. And those are conditions that can haunt people for life,” he said.

“Another term for concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. They’re trying to get the government to include in the definition of minor injury, a brain injury.”

Fair Alberta hopes to send out a message to the province advocating for fairness for consumers.

“We are writing letters to the government officials, we are having people go and meet with the MLAs, we’re even having a meeting with Celyeste Power," Feehan said.

“We’re concerned about the message because it’s not a fair message, and that’s why the program is called ‘fair.’ Let’s be fair about this.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is unaware of the total number of insurers operating in Alberta that applied for rate changes but confirmed that there are a number of them.


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