“We do recognize that during the pandemic people have been driving less, claims are down,” said Aaron Sutherland, a vice-president of the IBC.
Calgary led all Alberta municipalities in reductions to claims, according to the study, accounting for $231 million in auto insurance savings — nearly a third of total claims the previous year.
The Calgary Police Service noted a similar decline in reported vehicle collisions of about 35 per cent in 2020. Through the end of October, police logged 20,363 reported collisions, compared with 31,765 the previous year.
Sutherland said insurers are passing along savings during the pandemic to drivers. He claimed auto insurance premium relief from March through September in Alberta accounted for $279 million, or about $300 per driver.
For those who did not receive any auto insurance relief in 2020, Sutherland recommended policyholders reach out to their insurance company to request supports, particularly if their driving habits have changed.
Early this year, the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) approved insurance rate hikes of nearly 30 per cent for some companies. The move followed a decision by the provincial UCP government not to renew a cap limiting annual insurance rate increases at five per cent.
At the time, the government said removing the cap would allow the independent board to fulfil its mandate in setting rates and argued the cap had a negative effect on consumers.
The AIRB continues to approve increases to insurance rates, granting hikes of as much as 10 per cent in the third-quarter of 2020. In its report, the board said rate changes are approved to make insurance “accessible, equitable and sustainable” for Albertans.
“We need to focus on the Albertans, the lucky ones who are able to continue working but are now having to consider not driving anymore because they can’t afford the increase in premiums.”
Carson called on the province to reintroduce the rate cap and take action similar to British Columbia’s public insurer, which applied last week to decrease its basic rates by 15 per cent.
In response, the UCP said the rate cap resulted in some drivers being denied coverage or having to pay a full year’s premium up front rather than monthly. The party said B.C. has had the most expensive insurance premiums in Canada for years.
“Automobile insurance premiums have been a topic of frustration in Alberta for nearly 10 years. That’s why Alberta’s government passed legislation with immediate measures to make insurance more affordable for Alberta drivers,” said Jerrica Goodwin, press secretary for Finance Minister Travis Toews.
— With files from Lauren Boothby
Article Courtesy of PostMedia