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  • Mark McCourt - Founder of McCourt Law Offices

Have Your Say On Auto Insurance


Over the past dozen months, our illustrious firm founder and principal counsel has penned a number of Guest Columns on the issue of auto insurance for the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald. 

 

The first of these guest columns was an op-ed published in the Edmonton Journal on June 21, 2023, less than two weeks after Premier Danielle Smith had named Nate Horner as her new Treasury Board and Finance (TBF) Minister. In her mandate letter to Minister Horner dated June 13, 2023, Premier Smith asked that he work with stakeholders to develop recommendations to make auto insurance more affordable for good Alberta motorists. This first guest column warned Albertans that one of those stakeholders, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC, the chief lobby group for the insurance industry), was poised to pitch to provincial politicians a plot to replace Albertans' rights to sue negligent drivers with a form of "no-fault" legislation with a bogus tort option. The IBC's proposal would shift responsibility to compensate Albertans injured by reckless drivers from the at-fault motorist's insurance company over to the innocent victim's insurance company. This plan of course would potentially make bad drivers' auto insurance premiums more affordable, but good drivers would have to pay higher rates if they wanted to recover some degraded version of their confiscated freedoms.

 

The second of these guest columns was published on March 1, 2024 in the Calgary Herald. This second op-ed warned Albertans that the TBF Minister had commissioned (at the taxpayers' expense) an actuarial study to consider a number of alternatives to Alberta's fault-based (tort law) auto insurance system. Under our current system, innocent Albertans left in chronic pain due to the fault of a careless driver have the freedom to recover full and fair compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company for their pain and suffering, income loss and other damages. Alternate systems being reviewed included the IBC's putrid proposal, as well as systems in other countries such as Australia and in other provinces including our twin sister province of Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, where the only auto insurance available is from Saskatchewan Government Insurance, the average premium is lower than here in Alberta, but virtually all of the auto accident victims in our sister province are unable to sue at-fault drivers (including, arguably, the reckless truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash) for full and fair injury and/or fatality compensation. While innocent victims are thus grossly and tragically undercompensated in Saskatchewan, reckless drivers enjoy enhanced no-fault benefits at a price kept artificially low by the lone public insurance corporation in the province, subsidized by the rates of good drivers and by Saskatchewan taxpayers.

 

The third guest column appeared in the May 7, 2024 Edmonton Journal, reporting to Albertans that the actuarial study commissioned by TBF had been released showing that IBC's preposterous no-fault "no claims insurance" proposal would result in chump change savings for policyholders in exchange for a ridiculous relinquishment of their civil legal rights. The op-ed referred to polls clearly showing that most Albertans want rates reduced by trimming excessive insurer profits, not by stripping auto insurance consumers of traditional freedoms in exchange for some left-leaning socialist form of namby-pamby no-fault legislation. Albertans believe in accountability on the road, and thus strongly support the right to be compensated through an at-fault driver's liability insurance rather than through the innocent victim's own insurance coverage. 

 

The fourth and final of this series of guest columns was published by the Calgary Herald a week ago, on May 24, 2024. In this op-ed, Albertans were advised that the auto insurance industry in our province has raked in billions of dollars in profits in excess of target provisions set by the Auto Insurance Rate Board (AIRB), largely due to insurance deforms perpetrated by Premier Jason Kenney (who was notoriously chummy with well-connected insurance lobbyists) and his right hand man (and Sky Palace drinking buddy), TBF Minister Travis Toews. The article noted that the insurance industry has started a campaign to divert Albertans' attention from its outrageous fortune by attempting to blame innocent injured car crash victims and their legal advocates for high premiums. Hilariously, a survey commissioned earlier this year by the IBC itself found that Albertans are seeing right through the insurance lobby's pathetic smokescreen. When asked for the top reason rates have risen, 59% of Albertans fingered record-high insurer profits as the culprit, compared to 34% who blamed injury lawyers and their clientele. Nice try, IBC!

 

Mark McCourt's most recent guest column also commended Kenney's successor, Premier Danielle Smith as well as her TBF Minister Nate Horner, for their comments and actions supportive of the rights of ordinary Albertans over the interests of the multibillion dollar, multinational insurance industry. One move by Minister Horner was to pass a regulation just before Christmas, allowing the AIRB to order insurers to refund Albertans the amount of money we've been overcharged in auto insurance rates over the past four years (a sum estimated by the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association at almost $2500 per household). However, gentle readers, have any of you yet seen even a fraction of this premium refund money from your car insurance company, fully five months into 2024?

 

Now is your chance to weigh in on the subject of Fair Alberta Auto Insurance. Premier Smith's UCP government wants interested Albertans to complete a survey on what a strong, affordable auto insurance system looks like. Our advice to Albertans (including Premier Smith and her caucus): give these superbly written guest columns a read, and then take the survey on or before June 26, 2024. And here's a thought: whenever the survey says "Please add your comment here", feel free to type, "Minister Horner, where's my auto insurance rate rebate?"

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