Insurance Premiums Still High While Coverage Is Cut

By Albert Conforzi | January 18, 2017

Albert Conforzi

Albert Conforzi

It looks like the Ontario government has decided to get their annual insurance update out of the way rather quickly this year.

As you may recall, four years ago the government promised Ontario motorists a 15% reduction in car insurance premiums by August, 2015. As your insurance bill can tell you, it hasn’t happened. This fact does not, however, stop the government from giving us a happy “we’re getting there” note every eight months or so. And here we go again:

Auto insurance rates have inched down a notch in Ontario, though the Liberal government is still far from its self-imposed target of an average 15-per-cent reduction.

The Liberals promised in 2013 to cut auto insurance premiums an average of 15 per cent by August 2015, but after that deadline came and went, Premier Kathleen Wynne later admitted that was what she called a “stretch goal.”

Approved rates in the fourth quarter of 2016 decreased on average by 0.14 per cent, according to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

That puts the average decrease since August 2013 at about 8.3 per cent, or a little over halfway to the government’s goal.

That word “halfway” strikes me as ironic. It took the government four years to cut insurance premiums in half. But it took insurance companies only one night to chop your coverage by 50%.

In case you missed it, insurance companies – with government approval; never forget that insurers can’t change coverage without a nod from the government – cut catastrophic benefits for victims by 50% last year. All they had to do was send a letter in the mail to their customers that as soon as their renewal date happened, their catastrophic coverage would be decreased from $1 million to $2 million.

How’s that for a heads up? One minute, you’re entitled to $2 million of help in the event that you’re horribly injured in a car crash. The next day, it’s $1 million. Just like that.

It is endlessly frustrating that when it comes to insurance companies, changes happen in their favour overnight, to the tune of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, we are supposed to celebrate a number like “.14 percent” in favour of people who may be maimed for life.

Let’s blow up this system that does not work for consumers or victims. We need to start again. A fair balance must be found between coverage, cost, and justice.