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Auto insurance rates up again

MPPs call on province to bring costs under control

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Car insurance – it is a fee that all drivers must pay to stay on the road, and it is a bill that is getting more expensive.

According to a recent report from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), rates went up by an average of 1.5 per cent in the third quarter, which follows an average increase of 0.33 per cent the quarter before.

For Lorne Coe, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, these numbers are just not acceptable, especially considering the promise made by Premier Kathleen Wynne in 2013 to see the province’s car insurance go down 15 per cent by 2015.

“Even after three years, the Wynne Liberals are still nowhere close to meeting their promise of rolling back car insurance rates 15 per cent,” he says.

“Take that into account with rising electricity rates and rising licence plate sticker fees, and this is very expensive for Durham Region families.”

Wynne said last year that rather than a set deadline for the proposed car insurance rate drop, it was a “stretch goal.”

Coe says this amounts to “another example on a long list of broken promises and failures.”

Jennifer French, the NDP MPP for Oshawa, these growing rates have been made even worse by the fact that the Liberals have the power to lower the rates more, but have not done so.

“The government will say this is out of their hands and that this is up to the insurance industry, but the government has the ability to control and approve those rates under FSCO,” she tells The Oshawa Express.

“Rather than follow through on the promise to lower insurance rates by 15 per cent for Ontarians, they’ve been going the other direction, and they’ve been helping out their friends in the insurance industry.”

French adds that the growing rates have been made even more stressful to Ontario’s drivers thanks to reductions to benefits covered under insurance plans.

Under new changes that came into effect in June, the amount of money that insurance companies pay out for medical care as a result of a car accident dropped to $65,000 from $86,000. The limit for more serious injuries was cut in half, dropping to $1 million from $2 million.

In a post on FSCO’s website, the changes were made “to help make insurance premiums more affordable.”

“It’s insult to injury, literally,” French says.

“Imagine someone who has been paying exorbitant rates year after year after year, and then they find themselves after an accident or in a crisis and need to have that coverage that they’ve been paying such high rates for, and then they find out their benefits have been reduced.”

It isn’t all bad news for drivers, however, with the FSCO reporting that since August 2013, rates have dropped by an average of 8.35 per cent.

And according to a new report from Kanetix, which compiles prices for various insurance policies, Oshawa drivers are paying below the Ontario average for auto insurance.

Based on a single 35-year-old driver with a clean driving record, Kanetix found the average auto insurance policy in Oshawa came with a price of $1,354, approximately 6.5 per cent lower than the provincial average of $1,448. Whitby was also below the provincial average, but only by $5, sitting at $1,443. Elsewhere in Durham Region, Pickering came in 10 per cent above average with $1,593 and Ajax sat at 7.5 per cent higher with its average annual rate of $1,556.

According to the report, the highest auto insurance rates in the province can be found in Brampton, with the average premiums coming in at $2,392, or 65 per cent above the provincial average.