Editor’s note: Global News would like to clarify that the individual insurers we reported on in this story are hiking rates for private passenger vehicles, not commercial vehicles. The previous government cap on rate hikes did not include commercial vehicles. The story has been updated to reflect the clarification.
As the list of insurers planning to hike premiums for Alberta drivers continues to pile up, some businesses are becoming more worried about overall rate hikes.
Erika Blair is one of the franchise owners of Driving Miss Daisy, a car service that helps seniors, those with disabilities and veterans stay mobile.
She conducts most of her business from her vehicle and fears insurance hikes will force her to park it.
“I’m worried,” Blair said. “Is it going to tank my business?
“Myself, just one vehicle, I’m probably up to almost $600 or more right now a month.”
Checker Transportation is also fearful of insurance hikes. Its president, Kurt Enders, says the company has more than 900 taxis and pays millions of dollars a year for them to be insured.
The company just renewed its insurance contract with a new provider at a significant cost.
“There is a point where I am concerned that we may not be able to afford the insurance coverage any more,” Enders said. “The drivers can only pay so much and you still need staff to run your business, so there is a point where you say you’re better off to close your doors and not be involved anymore.”
Enders added that because his business is considered high-risk and only insurable by a couple of companies, he can’t shop around and he can’t opt out.
“Without insurance, we’re out of business,” he stated.
“So we have to pay for insurance and just find ways to cut the costs through other ways of either laying people off or streamlining processes.”
These concerns are being echoed across the province after Global News Calgary uncovered information showing that insurance rates for individual drivers are on the rise.
Aviva Canada confirmed it will increase premiums 15 per cent across the board for private passenger vehicles starting January 2020.
In a statement, it blamed rising costs and claims.
Global News has also confirmed Wawanesa Insurance will hike rates by 12.1 per cent for private passenger vehicles starting next month.
“The cost of auto-repairs has gone up significantly with more technology built into vehicles, crash rates have gone up due to more distracted driving, and damage from hail, high winds and increasingly severe storms mean more Canadians are turning to their insurance provider for help,” the company said in a statement.
Wawanesa Insurance apologized and went on to say that “as a result, every premium dollar we received last year, we paid out more in claims and expenses.”
Global News also obtained a bulletin from a broker stating another insurer, Optimum General Insurance, is also hiking rates for private passenger vehicles by 20 per cent.
Insurers have to file and receive permission from Alberta’s rate regulator to increase rates for auto insurance.
The regulator would not tell Global News how many insurers have filed for rate changes, but the ones Global News contacted did so following the UCP’s decision in late August not to renew a 5 per cent rate cap on auto insurance premiums for private vehicles.
The Treasury Board and Finance minister’s office told Global News the cap was not for individual drivers, rather it was a cap on insurers’ Alberta-wide income from auto insurance premiums.
That meant, in reality, some Alberta drivers still saw rate increases of 10 to 20 per cent.
“The rate increase limitation imposed by the previous government was a Band-Aid that made the problem worse,” the government said. “Instead of putting another Band-Aid on the problem, our government will be working to find real solutions to fix Alberta’s insurance industry.”
Because Blair has a business, she would not have fallen under the cap. Still, she has this message for all insurers considering any hike.
“If you keep raising insurance all of the time — how do you expect anybody to be willing to make a living?”