Alberta drivers being gouged by insurance companies: NDP energy critic

Insurers taking advantage of UCP decision not to continue rate cap

Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley speaks during a news conference in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley speaks during a news conference in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said auto insurance companies have been gouging drivers since the UCP allowed an insurance rate cap to expire.

A report released by the UCP on Thursday shows that insurance companies “have been generating massive profits off Alberta drivers, and they’re doing it with the UCP’s help,” said Ganley in a news conference on Friday morning.

The UCP government did not renew a five-per-cent cap on auto insurance rate increases when it expired at the end of August 2019. The government said the move was necessary to ensure a sustainable industry.

In 2020, insurance companies charged Alberta drivers $385 million more in premiums than they did in 2019, Ganley said.

The Superintendent of Insurance 2020 Annual Report was posted online on Thursday. It shows the amount made in claims compared with premiums dropped two per cent to 77 per cent in 2020 from 79 per cent in 2019 and 80 per cent in 2018.

In 2019, car insurance companies collected $1.15 billion more in premiums than they paid out for in claims, she said. In 2020, they collected $1.3 billion more than they paid out.

“These are highly profitable companies. They’re fleecing Alberta drivers with the help of the UCP,” she said.

Many drivers drove much less in 2020 yet their insurance bills continued to rise, she added.

“They are charging Alberta families and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars more at a time when the UCP is making everything more expensive.”

Ganley said an NDP government would restore the cap on premiums that protected drivers from “these predatory increases.

Ganley also pointed out that legislation that banned utility disconnections during the winter months expired on Friday. Ganley said she introduced legislation to keep the ban in place until this time next year but the UCP would not debate it.

The NDP is calling for a rebate on natural gas, a rebate or rate cap on electricity and to reinstate the cap on insurance rates. The Opposition is also calling on the government to roll back the de-indexing some seniors benefits and personal income taxes and to drop large tutition increases for students.

The government stopped collecting the 13-cents-per-litre provincial gas tax on April 1 and is planning to provide $150 in electricity rebates in coming months. A natural gas rebate program has also been announced.



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