NB Libs release faulty auto insurance premium survey results

I don’t understand the provincial Liberal’s positioning on the auto insurance issue. I realize they are trying to differentiate their policies from the PCs and they see this as an opportunity but from a rationale perspective I can’t figure this out. A decade ago, Premier Frank McKenna was in Toronto trying to convince financial services firms to locate in New Brunswick – many of them did – there are close to 2,000 people working for RBC, CIBC, etc. that would not be here if it were not for the efforts of the former Premier. Ironically, perhaps, several of these firms handle insurance business in the province. Now, provincial Liberal leader Shawn Graham is in Toronto (figuratively) telling the industry that he would socialize auto insurance. What’s next? Home insurance? How about life insurance? Heck, why not socialize the entire financial services industry while you are at it. I, personally have more problems with the lack of investment capital here than auto insurance premiums.

Here’s a clip from the T&T article today:

A Liberal-sponsored poll released Wednesday suggested the average annual automobile insurance premium in the province is more than $1,800. However, the polling company miscalculated the findings and the Liberals were forced to resend their release late yesterday, saying the average premium was actually $1,128.

Now, the first rule of these types of surveys is that the numbers have to fall in the bounds of reality or they should be questioned. $1,800 wasn’t the average rate at the height of the auto insurance crisis. The Liberals should have realized that these numbers were bogus long before they released them.

If I was advising the Libs, I would say they should position themselves as the party of economic development. It’s obvious that the Tories are not. I guess that leaves the NDP to be the champion of economic growth.

Look it. I am not defending the auto insurance sector. In response to rapidly escalating claims – particularly soft tissue – they panicked and raised their rates all at once freaking out a bewildered public. But I think that the reforms seem to be working and the Liberal should move on.

Unless they can get accurate data that backs up their position – which they haven’t yet.

Let me give you a friggin’ case study. My auto insurance rate today on my minivan (yes, three kids, no less) is about $100 bucks more than it was five years ago. My property taxes went up almost $400 in one year (that whole reassessment thing). My power bill will go up 13% – or hundreds of dollars – because of NB Power problems.

So, for me, auto insurance is a backburner issue. It will lead to acrimony between the NB government and the business community and I figure we don’t need that. How about fixing the bloody house assessment process so that citizen’s like me don’t get gouged? How about focusing on NB Power?

Remember that huge white elephant – the Tory promise to remove the tolls on the Fred/Mon highway? Remember that deal that has cost NB taxpayers tens of millions since 1999 and will utimately cost us hundreds of millions? Well, the Tories would have won without that silly promise. Now Nova Scotia is raking in millions on their toll highway. PEI the same. NB nada.

Auto insurance just may turn out to be the provincial Liberal’s white elephant. An election platform that garners limited votes but costs the province deeply in other ways.

Focus on what matters. If we can turn around the serious economic challenges facing most of New Brunswick – nobody will care about auto insurance – especially if rates are in line with national trends.

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0 Responses to NB Libs release faulty auto insurance premium survey results

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was about to get into that auto industry argument with you (yet again). If you look at comparitive studies provinces WITH public insurance (calling it ‘socialized’ seems to be a way to inflame the issue as it is far from being an aspect of socialism), are FAR better off. Ironically, while it hasn’t resulted in huge saving, there is more legislation governing auto insurance than in the provinces WITH public insurance.

    That’s money that LEAVES the province, whereas tolls, property taxes, and power increases are at least monies that stay in the province to pay for services.

    However, I think you are right in that personally, those are far bigger issues that you mention. I suspect though, the liberals are just trying to find some things to differentiate themselves from the tories. Things that, once again, the corporate community will LET them discuss. And it almost worked before.

    Virtually ALL of the ‘big’ issues pretty much pit the well being of New Brunswickers against some giant industry, so they really don’t want to discuss those.

    If you look at their platform though, it is FAR from simply saying they will initiate public insurance:

    “Upon taking office, a liberal government will establish a Commission on Insurance to study the overall insurance system in New Brunswick including house insurance, life insurance, automobile insurance and others. The mandate of the commission will also include studying the possibility of a New Brunswick public system of insurance.”

    So, here we go round the mulberry bush once again. The last studies I guess simply weren’t comprehensive enough, even though Elizabeth Weir did them. So this gives them PLENTY of leeway for an out. They do have some other policies affecting insurance, so like the tories they’d put some more ‘band aids’ on it.

    Its just my personal opinion but I think the case can easily be made for public insurance. Just do some research on insurance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. I doubt we’ll EVER see it in NB, when the insurance bigwigs came down during the last committee no doubt they simply told Lord they’d pull EVERYTHING out.

    However, public insurance is no worse than any other public system. You want public power, just go find a geezer and ask them what it was like before the sixties. Public education clearly produced far better results than the current quasi-privatization. And Canadians are quite correct (again, in my opinion) to be supporters of public health care. Again, just ask somebody who grew up before the sixties.

    I had an Uncle who died after surgery and the family was TEN YEARS paying off the medical bill.

    As I mentioned before, most of India’s forestry companies are public, and I think now is the perfect time for New Brunswick to follow that model. I notice that economic developers often talk like the well being of workers is their chief concern, but there is usually little focus when government owned industries like in India clearly provide more benefits.

    While we see coverage of ‘specific’ issues, there is usually zero mention of those cases. Here, obviously it makes sense, when your raison d’etre is to bring in more foreign investment, clearly its not good policy to talk about publicizing industries. Personally, I think the ‘cheapest whore on the block’ (forgive the sexist analogy) simply hasn’t produced ANY positive results, which is reason enough to not only question it, but to dismantle it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand the provincial Liberal’s positioning on the auto insurance issue.

    That’s easy. Everyone hates insurance companies. Why not bash ’em when you’re trying to get elected?

    If I was advising the Libs, I would say they should position themselves as the party of economic development.

    Any moron can claim their party will provide “prosperity” for all, it’s hard to fight an election on that stuff, especially when the press won’t cover the real numbers.

    re: property tax – how much more is your house worth than when you bought it?

    re: toll highways and NB Power – you’re totally right, and I have no idea why the Libs are scared to mention these issues.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why they’re scared is obvious. Just look at the big corporations involved. Irving has trucking companies and ships oil and gas via trucks. Halifax has port expansions going on, you think they want yet another toll on their route west?

    For NBPower, of course they were just pre-empted. They were for the government paying for lepreau themselves and thanks to the non-interest of the private sector that’s exactly what happened. You’ll note that while they claim to be all for government runnning NBPower, they really haven’t mentioned any legislation to combat the privatization legislation introduced by the tories.

    I suspect they are just sending out feelers to try to find the ‘issue’ that will mobilize voters.

    However, we have to remember the province pretty much has a choice between the Irving Party #1, and Irving Party #2.

  4. scott says:

    I guess that leaves the NDP to be the champion of economic growth.

    Even though I know you’re just kidding, I still cringed after reading that sentence.