• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

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Opinion: Offering Albertans choice can make auto insurance more affordable

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It’s no secret that Alberta’s auto insurance system is under strain and drivers are feeling the impact.

The provincial government announced a pause on auto insurance rate filings at the beginning of the year in an effort to hold the line on increases while it explores solutions to improve the affordability of insurance coverage.

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Saving Albertans money — including on their auto insurance — is important, given the increasing cost of living. That said, when considering cost-saving solutions, it’s important we focus on facts to get that work done right.

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Unfortunately, some have been spending a lot of time and energy since the provincial election trying to distract from the true cost pressures affecting auto insurance premiums. It seems that certain groups are more concerned with protecting their position by pushing back on changes that would give drivers more control over their policies and the coverages they buy.

Under the current system, auto insurance in Alberta is one-size-fits-all and forces everyone to purchase the same coverage, regardless of circumstance or personal preference.

The Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta (IBAA) has been open and transparent for years about our desire to work with the government to find ways to lower premiums for the province’s drivers. To be clear, IBAA does not represent insurance companies. We represent insurance brokers, dedicated professionals that work in every community to help drivers navigate and understand their auto insurance coverages. When you make a claim, your broker is often your first call.

We want to modernize the auto insurance system to give drivers more choice, while focusing on improving the care they receive if injured in a collision. Under our proposal, which is admittedly similar in nature to one put forth by the insurance industry itself, Alberta drivers would receive twice the amount of treatment and care following a collision.

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They would also have the freedom to choose new coverage options to save up to $200 annually. Specifically, drivers could choose to decline financial compensation for a minor injury, which is currently capped at $5,817. This ability to choose between coverage options threatens those whose revenue stream is dependent on injured people taking legal action.

Importantly, our proposal ensures drivers would retain the ability to sue to ensure they receive the medical care they need to recover if injured in a collision. Major or minor injury, that right is paramount.

We need only look across the Rockies to see the pitfalls of British Columbia’s new no-fault system, which limits such legal access. There, you no longer have the right to sue, and it has created huge challenges for those injured in collisions and greatly limited the care they receive.

Something needs to change to make auto insurance more affordable in Alberta. Providing drivers with more choice is a good start. Alberta’s brokers are focused on that and other options that would benefit consumers. We continue to work with the government to make that happen.

At a time when affordability is a real challenge for many Alberta families, brokers are putting the consumer first.

George Hodgson is CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta.

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