Study says Ontario drivers pay too much for auto insurance
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath claims people who live in more modest neighbourhoods pay higher premiums for auto insurance. (SUN FILE PHOTO)
Ontarians have overpaid by at least $3-billion for car insurance since 2001, according to a study released Friday.
Commissioned by the Ontario Trial Lawyer’s Association and penned by two York University professors, the study says the province needs to step in to adjust rates and that families pay $100 to $120 a year too much for insurance, or $840 million in 2013, said OTLA president Steve Rastin.
“We were trying to show Ontarians they’ve been paying too much for auto insurance,” he said of the report. “We’re trying to show the government that it doesn’t need to continue cutting the auto insurance product in order to get to its promised 15% rate reduction.”
Along with the high costs, insurance companies are offering less coverage, Rastin said. As of 2010, over 70% of policies which offered $100,000 of medical coverage after an accident changed to about $3,500, he said.
Despite that, insurance companies have continued to the tell the Ontario government that providing auto insurance isn’t a money-maker.
“Quite frankly, we don’t believe it,” Rastin said. “If you’ve cut people’s coverage by 96%, how can the product not be profitable?”
The report suggests that a built-in profit margin of 11%, legislated by the province in 1996, could be adjusted to 5.7% to bring it more in line with the financial realities of 2015, Rastin said.
“In this climate, in this environment, who gets make 11 to 12% return on their investment after taxes?” he said.
The report also asks Ontario’s auditor general to look into the issue.
Kelsey Ingram, spokesman for Finance Minister Charles Sousa, said the government will review the report but is working to ensure the system remains “fair and affordable.” “Since August 2013, auto insurance rates have declined by over 6% on average. This past November, the Ontario government passed the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, which will help our government continue to fight fraud and abuse, reduce rates and uncertainty in the auto insurance system,” Ingram said.
But Tory Finance critic MPP Vic Fedeli said the government has failed to bring auto insurance rates under control, despite a pledge to cut rates by 15% in 2013. That promise helped then-premier Dalton McGuinty keep his minority government afloat, as the insurance rate cut was a key concession for NDP support of the budget.
Fedeli said the province needs to take a hard look at this new report.
“Not only are Ontarians still paying too much for insurance, nothing has been done about it,” he said. “That’s the real message here.”