News release

Minister Comments on UARB Insurance Report

Environment and Labour Minister Ron Russell said today, May 13, that changes are needed in the automobile insurance industry. Mr. Russell was reacting to the release of a report by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on its examination of Rates for Private Passenger Automobile Insurance.

The board concluded that the rate increases imposed by the insurance companies on consumers have been "extremely harsh" and "appear to have been imposed without consideration of consumers' ability to pay".

"This is consistent with what we're hearing from consumers and supports our reasoning for our amendments to the Insurance Act, which provide for a rate increase 'time-out' from May 1, 2003, to Jan. 1, 2004," the minister said.

Mr. Russell noted that the board expressed concern about both the regulatory system and restrictive underwriting practices.

"We share these concerns and the early indication from the public consultations we have been conducting is that it is a widely-held concern," said Mr. Russell.

The minister said that the Department of Environment and Labour has developed a four-point plan to deal with the automobile insurance issue and that the board's examination of rate increases was the first phase of that plan.

"I am glad the board's deliberations are finally available to us," Mr. Russell said. "In combination with our education and public consultation processes, the report will help us develop appropriate policy to deal with this highly complex issue."

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Environment and Labour Minister Ron Russell has welcomed the release of the report on the Utility and Review Board's examination of automobile insurance rates.

Mr. Russell said the report validates government's view that change is required in the insurance industry.

Mr. Russell said that the Department of Environment and Labour has a four-point plan to develop new policy on automobile insurance, and that the U-A-R-B report is an important component of the plan.

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Contact:

Penny McCormick
Environment and Labour 902-424-7420 E-mail:
amc            May 13, 2003        5:56 P.M.