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Truck or car, drivers calling MPI claim centre told to ‘call us again’

Manitoba Public Insurance call centre experiencing ‘perfect storm’
WATCH: MPI spokesperson Brian Smiley said the call centre has been experiencing a busy time, due to recent collisions as well as increased demand for driver licencing.

If you’ve been frustrated trying to call in a claim to the Manitoba Public Insurance Contact Centre, you are not alone.

Callers to MPI this week heard an automated message suggesting they could experience delays as a result of a “higher than normal volume of calls”.

“If the claim you are reporting does not affect your vehicle’s road-worthiness, please give us a few days to deal with the emergency calls and then call us again. We thank you for your patience at this time,” the recording stated.

WATCH: Callers to MPI frustrated, told to call back later

Callers to MPI frustrated, told to call back later
Callers to MPI frustrated, told to call back later

MPI spokesperson Brian Smiley told Global News the call centre has been experiencing a busy time, but it isn’t entirely to do with recent road conditions or crashes.

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READ MORE: Why the winter warm up makes for slippery conditions around Winnipeg

“The issue is, we’re experiencing an abundance of calls related to collisions, people booking driver’s tests, people calling about their driver’s licences, vandalism claims,” he said. “It’s a combination of everything.

“They handle a number of calls. In addition to collision claims, there’s bodily injury claims, physical damages. Our contact centre folks are busy.”

READ MORE: Suspicious Manitoba auto insurance claims — MPI’s Top Five list for 2018

However, Smiley did say there were “nearly 900 collisions in the province” on Wednesday alone.

Prior to the latest snowfall, MPI collision data shows the number of claims made this year are actually lower than they were during the same time over the two previous years.

Collision claims Jan. 1 to Feb. 12

2019   22,562
2018   23,500
2017   23,360
2016   20,145
2015   20,150

READ MORE: Manitoba trucking industry wants higher mandatory standards for driver training

Smiley said calls to set up appointments for Class 1 driver testing are also contributing to the increased call volume.

Over the last seven business days, MPI received a total of 3663 appointment calls, including 2473 for Class 1 testing, and 1290 calls for other appointments.

For the same week last year, Smiley said they received a total of 1,000 appointment calls.

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Terry Shaw of the Manitoba Truckers Association said it is an issue that has been going on for months.

“We believe a lot of people are trying to get their licence in advance of a requirement of having to train,” Shaw said.

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While the Province of Manitoba is working on legislation requiring truck drivers to have a minimum level of training before being paid to get behind the wheel, Shaw does not yet know when the requirement will come into effect.

WATCH: A new federally-regulated training regime could cost truckers thousands

A new federally-regulated training could cost truckers thousands
A new federally-regulated training could cost truckers thousands

Driver training rules are already in place in Ontario, and are being implemented in Saskatchewan this March.

Shaw said requirement or no, the training is already available — with pre-employment funding from the province — for those who are looking for a Class 1 licence as a path to a job as a truck driver.

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“Having a Class 1 licence is a licence to drive, it’s not a licence to work as a truck driver,” he said. “You need to be trained for that.”

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As for people who are frustrated waiting to file a claim for vehicle damage, MPI says “be patient”.

“If you have a vehicle that has been damaged but is driveable, you don’t have to file a claim immediately,” Smiley said.

“A lot of people think you have to, but you don’t. You can wait a couple of days.”

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Smiley said the call centre can handle 100 live calls plus 40 on hold. Anything beyond that, however, means you won’t get through.

Drivers who can’t get through, he said, should try the evenings or on Saturdays when there are lower call volumes.