KENORA – For years, the cost of auto insurance has been a source of frustration for many people across the Northwest.
Despite legislative changes in 2010 that reduced costs for auto insurance companies, premiums have continued to rise, even for those with clean driving records.
Auto Insurance Rates
In the Northwest, these increases have been particularly painful for hardworking families and seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills and who rely on their vehicles to travel to work, buy groceries, and travel to medical appointments.
As a result, the price of auto insurance has been one of the most common concerns I have heard about from you through letters, emails, phone calls, and speaking to you in person at trade shows, fairs and other events. In fact, in this past spring’s budget survey, which I sent out to every home in the Kenora-Rainy River riding, more than 90% of respondents rated lowering premiums an extremely high or very high priority.
I’m pleased to say something is being done.
In the spring, I joined my NDP caucus colleagues in supporting a motion calling on the Premier to reduce auto insurance premiums by 15%. Thanks to public pressure mounted on the governing Liberals, the motion passed and paved the way for its inclusion in this year’s provincial budget.
While some were skeptical, this past week the provincial government announced its first step in implementing this priority. On August 22, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced that he has instructed the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which oversees insurance premiums, to instruct insurance companies to begin cutting rates in time for January. Premiums will be reduced by at least eight per cent next August and the full 15 per cent a year after that.
While it is not the immediate 15 per cent cut that needs to be made, it is a step in the right direction. By next August, the average consumer will see a savings of a little more than $100 per year. Once the full 15 per cent is achieved, consumers can expect their annual auto insurance bill to drop by roughly $200.
Since the Financial Services Commission has to approve any rate increases, fears of companies increasing premiums in advance of the reduction should be unfounded, as will be suspicion that premiums in the Northwest will rise in order to reduce premiums in Southern Ontario. Arguments like these have been used by the Conservative Party, who voted against the motion to reduce premiums, in hopes of creating cynicism in order to protect Insurance Companies’ already soaring profits.
While more needs to be done to protect consumers and reduce our cost of living, I believe this announcement is a good news story for people in the Northwest who are tired of the high cost of this essential service. As with any policy, the overall success is reliant on vigilant monitoring and you have my pledge that I will continue to fight for cost savings and programs that make it easier for you to pay your bills each month.
Sarah Campbell MPP