Car insurance rates remain high, even with fewer drivers on the road: personal injury firm

Rates rose by 1.8 per cent, up from pre-pandemic levels and by average of $30 per policy

Car insurance rates remain high, even with fewer drivers on the road: personal injury firm

Lower auto insurance premiums could have benefited Ontarians at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially given that fewer people were commuting to their jobs and most were refraining from driving at all, a blog post from Thomson Rogers said.

Auto insurance rates decreased somewhat in the first three months of last year, then demonstrated an upward trend again from April to June 2020, which was the peak of the province’s first lockdown, the firm’s blog post noted.

There was an approximately 56-per-cent decrease of car accidents in the province from March 2020, when the provincial state of emergency was first announced, to July 2020. This change is linked to the decline in the number of vehicles using Ontario roads since the onset of the pandemic. But during that time, Car insurance rates rose by 1.8 per cent, up from pre-pandemic levels, and by an average of $30 per policy, said Kennedy Nolan, a personal injury lawyer at Nolan Ciarlo LLP in “Pandemic Price Gouging in The Car Insurance Industry,” a post published in the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association Blog,

Considering that there were fewer auto accidents and thus fewer new car insurance claims, premiums should have gone down to help Ontarians who began depending on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit after their employment was terminated in the context of the public health crisis, said the blog.

The decline in the number of auto accidents and in auto insurance claims, which should benefit consumers, has instead benefited insurance companies, Nolan said. Few individuals received any meaningful amount from insurance rebates amid the COVID-19 crisis, said the firm’s blog post. And many so-called insurance refunds due to the pandemic actually arose when insured parties who were no longer commuting to their workplaces managed to negotiate lower policies.

According to the blog post, the Insurance Bureau of Canada usually issues a standard response that more Ontarians have been opting to drive rather than using the public transit system and has refrained from mentioning the decline in the number of accidents because of the lockdowns. Insurers have also mostly stayed quiet regarding this issue, the blog added.

Given that the firm is expecting the increase of the province’s car insurance rates this year, the blog post suggests that Ontario motorists wanting to lower such rates should aim to drive safely, to minimize their annual mileage and intended use of the vehicle, to notify their insurance companies if they are driving shorter distances because of remote work options and to look around for competitive premiums, the blog post suggests.

The firm noted that, back in 2016, there was a move to lower statutory accident benefits across the board, applicable to persons injured in auto accidents, including by introducing a $1 million limit for those with catastrophic injuries, which has exposed particularly vulnerable individuals with serious injuries to medical expenses which can swiftly be consumed.

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