SGI rates to hold steady ‘despite COVID-19 volatility’: minister

Joe Hargrave, the provincial minster responsible for SGI, discusses the crown's 2019-2020 annual report on Thursday. Broadcast pool

The minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) says Saskatchewan residents don’t need to worry about premiums increasing right now, despite the Crown’s investments taking a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fiscal year came with its challenges, but the Auto Fund is fortunate to remain in a strong financial position overall, which means Saskatchewan people continue to have stability,” Joe Hargrave told reporters Thursday at the release of SGI’s 2019-20 annual report.

“They have not and will not experience the kind of increases that drivers in other provinces have had over the past few years.”

Read more: SGI shows $48 million profit in 2018-19 annual report

The Saskatchewan Auto Fund, the insurance plan administered by SGI on behalf of the province, relies on its investment portfolio for rate stabilization. The report attributes a $46.7-million decrease to that reserve to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The rate stabilizaiton reserve is “still quite healthy,” Hargrave said, and because of that “financial cushion,” insurance rates will remain at 2014 levels.

The minister touted a number of traffic safety milestones as indicators that “many people are making better choices.”

Last year, there were 71 driving deaths in Saskatchewan. Although the Auto Fund report notes “even one fatality is too many and there’s more work to do,” it notes this is the fewest number of driving deaths the province has seen since it began keeping track in 1951.

Saskatchewan’s impaired driving deaths and injuries also reached all-time lows in 2019, noted the minister, adding distracted driving offences dropped as well.

Read more: Saskatchewan’s SGI issues temporary layoffs amid coronavirus pandemic

SGI Canada, which sells property and casualty insurance across the Prairies and in Ontario and British Columbia, experienced growth in the 2019-20 fiscal year, returning $54.3-million dividend to the provincial government, according to the report.

SGI Canada has achieved the goal of writing 40 per cent of $1 billion in premiums outside of Saskatchewan, the report states.

While SGI Canada customers incurred $543 million in claims in 2019-20, the number related to storms and wildfires dropped off.

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Click to play video: 'Wild weather wreaks havoc in southern Saskatchewan' Wild weather wreaks havoc in southern Saskatchewan
Wild weather wreaks havoc in southern Saskatchewan – Jul 8, 2020

This could be related to more geographical diversity, noted the minister.

“An especially severe storm can cause financial losses if it hits all three of the Prairie provinces,” Hargrave said, adding that’s a reason why SGI wants to expand its presence in Ontario and British Columbia.

It hopes to achieve that growth by keeping rates down and customer service high, he said.

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