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  • Mark McCourt - Founder of McCourt Law Offices

Lies, Damn Lies and Insurance Lobby Talking Points


For the past few years (basically since the Jason Kenney administration sent car insurance premiums skyrocketing by removing the rate cap and bodily injury claims costs plummeting by amending the Minor Injury Regulation and slashing prejudgment interest payable on case resolution proceeds), auto insurance corporations have been gouging good Alberta motorists, under-compensating innocent Albertans injured by careless drivers, and laughing all the way to the bank with windfall profits billions of dollars in excess of targets set (but poorly enforced) by the Auto Insurance Rate Board. 

 

Now those same slick insurance lobbyists who had Premier Kenney and his spendthrift Finance Minister Travis Toews tucked neatly into their back pockets are craving more gravy, hoping their Treasury Board & Finance bureaucrat buddies can bamboozle politicians in UCP caucus into ripping rights away from Albertans left in chronic pain by negligent drivers (a move that would be unconstitutional) in order to further pad insurers’ plump bottom lines. This has been the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s shameful shtick since 20 years ago, when astute and courageous Conservative MLA Brent Rathgeber KC said, “I appreciate that the bureaucrats at the Department of Finance have limited interest in an unbiased and objective analysis; however we as politicians MUST insist on objectivity and fairness both in process and result.” On any objective analysis, one must conclude that auto insurance lobby talking points tend to be “not germane to the enterprise of describing reality.”     

 

The IBC’s putrid proposal is staggeringly unpopular with Albertans, according to polling conducted by Janet Brown Opinion Research. This is unsurprising, given that most Albertans possess a triple digit IQ and a strong sense of justice, moral clarity and common decency. Albertans realize that under the IBC’s proposal, compensation would be confiscated from innocent Albertans (mostly women and children) hurt by reckless drivers and then redistributed to guilty wrongdoers in the form of enhanced (on paper at least) benefits, and to the multibillion-dollar multinational insurance industry in the form of even higher profits. Alberta motorists would have the option of buying back from insurers a severely degraded version of their stolen rights at a cost (let's be blunt: a ransom payment) that insurance lobbyists claim would start at about $200 per year over and above mandatory basic insurance premium rates. This is unjust, unnecessary, unconservative and unAlbertan. We live in a province that values individual freedoms, law and order, and the clear conviction that wrongdoers should be held responsible for their actions and must fully and fairly compensate those they hurt. Albertans know there is a price to be paid for negligence causing harm, and that our UCP government should not implement a socialist-style no-fault scheme to rob innocent victims of full and fair pain and suffering compensation in order to unjustly enrich blameworthy tortfeasors and their insurers. Look former Conservative MP Kerry Diotte’s wife Clare in the eye and tell her that Albertans are wrong about this -- they’re NOT wrong.  

 

It is evident that severely normal Albertans will NOT consider government marketplace meddling in the form of decreasing the price by gutting the product to be a win on this file. But gosh, if the Alberta government shouldn’t keep letting auto insurance lobbyists and insurance industry-friendly beancounters draft and deform Alberta tort law, then how can we reduce rates for good motorists without revictimizing injured victims? The glaringly obvious, ethical and FAIR answer is as easy as ABC: A) modify the Grid framework so as to stop making good drivers oversubsidize the rates of bad ones; B) in accordance with a resolution passed a couple of months ago at the UCP AGM, repeal that ill-advised “DCPD” no-fault nonsense brought in two years ago by Kenney and Toews; and C) order the AIRB to mandate that insurers grant to good drivers in 2024 a 10% rebate of compulsory auto insurance premiums paid by those Alberta motorists in 2023 -- FULL STOP. OK, bonus tip: Scrap the premium tax without further delay, as expert economist Jack Mintz has been advocating for over two decades! These thoughtful steps would bring the average Albertan's auto insurance premium payment more in line with those in our neighbouring provinces of BC and Saskatchewan, two public insurance regimes with Soviet-style, bargain basement no-fault chump change coverage compared to what even the IBC admits (and Dr. Mintz agrees) is Alberta's far superior, competitive tort-based system. But golly, if the UCP government reduces rates for good Alberta motorists by trimming wildly excessive insurance industry profit margins (a prudent move backed by a massive majority of Albertans), won’t avaricious automobile insurance companies have a hissy fit, pack their moneybags and leave the province? Well, as Premier Danielle Smith has wisely stated, “I’ll believe it when I see it.

 

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