By: Lance Miller, CEO of SurexDirect.com
Minister Joseph Ceci has decided to take the driver’s seat on Alberta auto insurance, ignoring all the experts of the industry and creating a perilous environment for Albertans.
The insurance industry has been actively lobbying the government for the full-term of Minister Ceci, asking for some insurance reforms to curb the rising costs of auto insurance in Alberta. The lobbying had fallen on deaf ears until January of 2018, when he announced a pricing cap on Alberta auto premiums, retroactive to November 1, 2017. Despite the rising costs of litigation and the increased technology in vehicles driving up repair costs, Minister Ceci has decided to legislate that Alberta auto insurers have to lose money until after the election in May 2019. This seems like great news for the Albertan consumer, right?! Let me explain why his actions are putting the financial security and the safety of Albertans at risk.
If Minister Ceci’s office were to have stopped at just freezing rates, then perhaps this would have been a short-term, good news story for Albertans. Where this has become disastrous for Albertans is that Minister Ceci didn’t stop there. He has conceded to big business, at the expense of the ill-informed consumer, by allowing insurance companies to filter business. In the past, one of the basic principles of insurance is “anything is insurable at the right price”. Now, Minister Ceci has created a market where the new basic principle is, “If you’re not a perfect risk, we don’t want you, and now we don’t have to take you”.
In the last two months, insurance companies have come to the government with new rules saying the following:
If you have had 2 or more collisions in the last 6 years – no collision or comprehensive coverage available.
If you have had 2 hail claims in the last 5 years – no comprehensive coverage available.
If you have had 3 claims of any type in the last 6 years – no obligation to provide coverage.
If you have had 2 hit and run losses in 5 years – no collision or comprehensive available.
If you have ever been cancelled or declined to renew – you may now be refused insurance.
If you have had 3 tickets of any type – no collision available and no obligation to provide coverage.
If you have had 1 distracted driving ticket – no collision available.
If you have had 1 criminal code conviction – no collision, comprehensive, all perils, or specified perils available.
If you have less than 2 years of consecutive insurance history – no obligation to provide coverage.
Missed payments and cancelled more than 2 times in 6 years – no obligation to provide coverage.
If you had 1 accident in the last 2 years – no obligation to provide coverage.
If you fall under any of these, you will now be expected to pay upfront your full year insurance premium – no monthly payment options and no exceptions.
This is only a short summary of new rules the government is approving for Alberta auto insurers. This list grows weekly. Initially, these new rules were for new business only. Now, companies are looking at renewals based on these new rules. If you fall under one of these categories, you may now be ineligible for insurance. By insurance companies refusing to offer collision and comprehensive coverage they are, essentially, refusing to insure you, as most consumers either have a loan on their vehicles or they lease. A condition of financing and leasing is that the driver MUST retain liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. If you can’t get insurance, your lease or loan is going to be called in for breaching the terms & conditions of the lease. The government will try and say there is a “facility market” that can provide you with insurance. This is true, for really bad drivers, but there is a growing gap between what companies are refusing to insure versus when you qualify for facility insurance and a jacked insurance rate.
Perhaps you have read up to this point and, being you’re one of the few who has a clean record, your thoughts are “good it’s about time they crack down on poor drivers”. Here is where even the perfect drivers will be affected, as will innocent passengers and children. If people can’t get insurance in the market, we will end up having our streets full of uninsured drivers. Even if you are a great driver, if you’re hit by someone uninsured, who is going to fix your vehicle, pay your medical expenses, or the lifelong needs of a child or passenger injured in the accident? The government is circumventing the “take all comers” legislation that was passed years ago to prevent this very thing from happening; that legislation said, “companies must provide insurance to all who ask”. This legislation was written to prevent the very environment that Minister Ceci has created in Alberta. Keep in mind, we are only a few months into these new changes and Minister Ceci is refusing to rectify the issue until after the election – a year from now. Don’t worry though, he has commissioned two studies to look at insurance, so they can appear to be making progress before the election in May 2019. The safety of Albertans and the insurance companies who protect them are in a downward spiral that may not be able to endure until May 2019.
These ill-thought-out actions have also started to have ripple effects in our provincial economy, as the auto industry struggles to sell vehicles to consumers in a market where insurance companies can avoid providing insurance. How damaging where you are discouraged and unable to sell your product. This is most certainly the case, as any broker in Alberta will tell you insurance companies are breathing down their necks asking them to not sell auto insurance. Where are Albertans supposed to go? Rumours are circulating that one of the major insurers in Alberta may pull out of our province, terminating the jobs of thousands supporting the $700 million of premiums they would be canceling.
Minister Ceci has refused my multiple attempts to meet to discuss these concerns. Perhaps he thinks we are just a small rural brokerage that is not well connected and that he can ignore us. We are a national brokerage – licensed across Canada – who is in contact with senior management and the CEO’s of the majority of the large national insurance carriers. We will, likely, be in the top 10 of the Profit 500 list and are certainly one of the fastest growers in the insurance industry. We see how the security of Albertan consumers is being eroded at a rapid pace, compared to other markets in Canada. We have had meetings with the Insurance Superintendent Office, explaining the risks the government is exposing Albertans to, and we got the same message as the insurance companies – ‘’take off until after the election”.
Our job is to protect the assets of Canadians. I would like to know from Minister Ceci where are we to put this business, as he continues to allow insurance companies to avoid taking it, due to the cap forcing them to lose money for two years?! Minister Ceci, would you still work if you didn’t get a paycheque and even had to fork out money to be the Minister?
It is unclear to me if Minister Ceci and his NDP government are thinking by keeping rates low they can buy Albertans votes, or if they are creating a market in turmoil so when there is a change over in government, they can yell from the opposition side of the legislature on how the new government is creating mayhem and taking money from Albertans, as they try and clean up this mess. Either way, shame on the government for playing with Albertans assets, their safety, their stability, and their provincial economy for political gain.
Talk to your MLA’s and use your connections to help put an end to Minister Ceci’s political gamesmanship that puts you and your family at risk.
How can you help? Who should you contact?
Please email Joe Ceci or your local MLA, call them, or reach out on your social platforms to voice your concerns:
Contact Minister Joe Ceci:
How to find your local MLA: