New numbers confirm Alberta drivers facing higher auto insurance costs

Roughly 27 insurers operating in Alberta were granted rate hikes in recent months

New numbers confirm that many Alberta drivers are getting hit with rate hikes, and even some sharp spikes, in their auto insurance.

The Automobile Insurance Rate Board says that 27 insurers operating in Alberta were granted rate hikes in recent months, ranging from less than one per cent to almost 30 per cent for basic coverage on private passenger vehicles.

But the board, in its latest report, stressed that it now expects the changes to work not only for insurers, but also for drivers who were having trouble getting the coverage they needed under the old rate cap.

“Following nearly two years of rate restriction, some Albertans found it difficult to obtain the coverage they required or access to payment plans,” said the board in its fourth quarter report, issued Friday.

“These actions by insurers were directly related to their inability to receive approval for rates commensurate with the risk.

“The (board) expects insurers who received approval for a rate increase to cease practices that limit access to certain coverages for Albertans.”

The board said more than 92 per cent of the insurers offering coverage for private vehicles asked for rate changes.

The move comes after the insurance industry warned repeatedly that sharply rising payouts in recent years had put it in a financial squeeze, and those problems were worsened when a five per cent ceiling on rate hikes was imposed two years ago by the former NDP government.

Last fall, the new United Conservative government lifted that cap, saying it wasn’t working because some Albertans were not able to access certain non-mandatory coverages or payment plans.

Celyeste Power with the Insurance Bureau of Canada said the new hikes are about 10 per cent on average per insurers, but that average will vary widely depending on driver records and how many drivers each firm insures.

She said the increase is not a surprise.

“Insurers actually don’t want to increase rates. They would rather keep their customer happy, give them the best rate possible,” said Power.

“But we have seen increasing claims costs over the past few years that have become quite unsustainable, and that’s when you see premiums follow.”

She said she hopes longer term reform will come from a provincial panel currently reviewing the entire auto insurance system to determine ways to improve it for the industry and drivers.

The panel is to report back in the spring.

Alberta Finance spokeswoman Jerrica Goodwin, in a statement, stressed that the board makes its rate decisions independent of government.

“Today’s release shows many companies with combined rate hikes below five per cent,” said Goodwin.

“Given the numerous options available, we encourage Albertans to shop around for the best rate.

“We will be taking action in the coming months to address long-term affordability in a sustainable manner.”

Jon Carson, the Opposition NDP critic on auto insurance, said the five per cent cap was reasonable, noting some firms in the latest report managed to keep their hikes to five per cent or less.

He urged the government to bring the cap back, adding that the UCP removed it last August with no consultation.

“Albertans are paying hundreds of dollars more in auto insurance alone and that’s very concerning,” said Carson.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mentors needed

Big Brothers Big Sisters reach out to community

Rimbey’s New Year’s Baby

New baby for Angus and Kristine McColm

Rimbey mayor looks at year ahead

Budget deliberations in March

Revenue Canada, RCMP don’t accept Bitcoin: police

RCMP issue Bitcoin warning posters

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Alberta premier wants federal government to do more about opioid imports

Jason Kenney says Canada should find ways to cut down on drugs being smuggled into the country

Alberta Energy Regulator laying off staff, restructures, deals with budget cuts

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring

Energy companies owe more than double the tax to Alberta municipalities

Survey says communities are owed $173 million — up 114% since last spring

No gondola from Banff to Mount Norquay, feds say

Parks Canada dismisses proposal for gondola, Grizzly Pavilion and boardwalks

Most Read