Alberta drivers are being cautioned about a possibly bumpy road ahead when it comes to insurance coverage.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said due in part to a five per cent cap on auto insurance rate increases implemented by the previous NDP government, insurers are being forced to make some changes.
An IBC spokesperson told Global News that while the cap — which is still in place — may have seemed like a good idea to protect consumers, it has caused significant problems.
“Right now we have a very unhealthy market here in Alberta,” said Celyeste Power, IBC vice president of Western Canada.
“Claims costs have been spiraling out of control for the past few years. Insurers are losing up to $0.30 on every single dollar that they’re bringing in.”
IBC also said the industry is not turning a profit through its investments, although it didn’t explain exactly how much it’s losing.
It did, however, send a letter to the Alberta premier, outlining what it called significant issues that drivers, brokers and agents are facing.
“That’s something that we’re certainly concerned about,” Jason Kenney said in response to the letter. “I’d be happy to sit with the insurance bureau and discuss that.”
But insurers aren’t the only ones unhappy these days.
Calgarian Scott Ramsay was one of many motorists who contacted Global News after he received a lengthy renewal form from his auto insurer Aviva Canada.
“Just the way it was worded kind of ticked me off,” Ramsay said.
Not only did he feel he had to go through hoops to be renewed for coverage, he also was informed he’d have to pay his full premium up front.
Aviva Canada told Global News: “Fundamentally, we’re just working to make sure we have accurate and updated information so that we have a full understanding of our customers’ needs.”
Aviva added it’s doing this because, during the year, drivers can get into accidents or get tickets and the company can’t accurately rate or assess the risk, or determine the proper premium for renewal.
IBC said this doesn’t mean Alberta drivers won’t get insurance, but they may not get renewed automatically, be allowed to pay in installments or be covered for what’s considered optional coverage.
“What is becoming more difficult, and the longer we go on in this unhealthy market, is finding the non-mandatory coverage like theft or hail coverage for example,” Power said.
Power said IBC is optimistic a solution will be found for all sides, but that solution won’t necessarily mean lower rates.
According to IBC, Alberta drivers already pay the third highest insurance rates in Canada.