Liberals promise myriad changes to tackle N.L. car insurance problem

No cap on minor claims, discounts for drivers who use winter tires, a crackdown on uninsured drivers are among the changes the Liberal government unveiled Monday as part of its plan to tackle Newfoundland and Labrador’s pricey car insurance.

“We can’t implement one quick fix,” said Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh, who detailed a long list of changes to be made to provincial legislation that she said are intended to stabilize rates.

The announcement follows a report, released in January, by the province’s Public Utilities Board that outlined the complicated scenario that has led to continually rising premium rates for drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Drivers in this province pay the highest insurance premiums of any Atlantic Canadian province — on average, 35 per cent more than the Maritimes.

On Monday, the insurance industry was denied its push for a cap on minor claims of bodily injury reports — an area known as “pain and suffering,” which provides accident victims with funds to cover a host of consequences of accidents.

Such caps exist in the Maritimes but have been derided by personal injury lawyers as well as N.L.’s consumer advocate as removing a consumer right without the promise to reduce insurance rates.

“We could not find a common ground. There was no consensus among the public or the stakeholders on this matter,” said Gambin-Walsh.

Instead, the deductible on such claims will increase, from $2,500 to $5,000.

Other changes

To try to curb accidents, thereby reducing claims from ever occurring, the province announced several ways to improve road safety.

The province had mulled over making winter tires mandatory, following Quebec’s example, but in the end decided to change legislation so drivers who do choose to use them will receive a discount on their overall policy.

Highway traffic cameras will also be introduced.

Newfoundland and Labrador also has the highest rate of uninsured drivers, and Monday’s announcement included such measures as denying such drivers the ability to file claims via the uninsured automobile fund. That fund has, according to the PUB report, resulted in $26 million in payouts to uninsured drivers in the past.

Gambin-Walsh said the changes announced Monday at noon would be introduced later the same day at the House of Assembly.

Premier Dwight Ball said the remaining tax on automobile insurance will also be eliminated, with details forthcoming on Tuesday, as part of the Liberals’ budget day announcement.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Liberals promise myriad changes to tackle N.L. car insurance problem

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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