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The Minor Injury Regulation 15 Years Later: Time to Cut the Crap and Scrap the Cap

lawyer walking into a court

For the last 15 years, the path between the offices of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Alberta Finance has been short -- and well-worn. IBC, the amply financed lobbyist for the multibillion dollar, multinational insurance industry, has had little difficulty persuading bureaucrats and politicians (including those in the dearly departed, “one & done” NDP government) to restrict the rights of innocent injured Albertans so as to pad the profit margins of auto insurance companies. Fifteen years ago today, a provincial PC government past its prime enacted an unfair, unnecessary, unconservative regulation capping private auto insurance compensation for innocent Albertans injured by careless drivers. The regulation was implemented after persistent lobbying from an insurance industry whose pleas of poverty were, to borrow a phrase from philosopher Harry Frankfurt, "not germane to the enterprise of describing reality." In fact, insurance companies were enjoying all-time high profits prior to the cap, and have seen an eye-popping increase in profits ever since -- at the expense of Alberta motorists.

Now with a new United Conservative Party government in place, the well-connected, insatiable insurance lobby (which arguably rivals SNC-Lavalin in its pernicious power to persuade pliable politicos) is back looking for more corporate welfare, more regulation, more government intervention to protect the “poor, malnourished” (ummm, did we mention “multibillion dollar”) insurance industry from pesky accident victims (and their advocates such as the motor vehicle accident injury lawyers at McCourt Law Offices). Within days of the new UCP cabinet being sworn in, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (whose “Alberta government relations” director, Celyeste Power, is Jason Kenney’s former press secretary) hired Nick Koolsbergen (former UCP caucus chief of staff and the party’s campaign director for the April 2019 election) to lobby the Premier's Office, Executive Council, Alberta Legislative Assembly and Alberta Treasury Board & Finance to both "Update the Minor Injury Definition" and "Advocate for market-based auto insurance rates vs an artificial rate cap." In other words, hot off running the campaign that elected the UCP, Mr. Koolsbergen was hired by the IBC to try to persuade said UCP government to cap more injury claims while "scrapping the cap" on insurance premiums. And indeed, the UCP let that cap on premium hikes expire a month ago, just before the Labor Day long weekend. Auto insurance is mandatory so that if some reckless or drunk driver hurts you on the road, you can be fairly compensated for your injuries. But if the insurance lobby gets their way, those mandatory (and freshly uncapped) premiums you pay may buy you a pretty pink card that means something approaching diddly squat, relatively speaking. This is an issue that potentially effects all of us: nobody plans on being in an accident but when they are, Albertans deserve to have their rights respected (rather than trampled on) by our provincial government. McCourt Law Offices urges our readers to tell UCP MLAs that you want the Alberta government to stand up for severely normal Albertans. And as for our readers who happen to be UCP MLAs, our firm respectfully recommends that you kindly tell those insurance lobbyists that you were elected with a mandate to reduce regulation & corporate welfare, to champion the rights of individual Albertans, and to make sure that wrongdoers are held accountable. Our Alberta government should stand up for fairness and say “no” to insurance lobbyists who want the UCP to further regulate away the rights of ordinary Albertans. The UCP wasted little time scrapping the cap on the premiums auto insurers could charge us; it’s well past time for the UCP government to respect the common law and scrap the artificial cap on compensation for innocent injured auto accident victims. #ScrapTheCap


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