News release

Government Delivers Lower Rates, More Protection for Consumers

ENVIRONMENT/LABOUR--Government Delivers Lower Rates, More Protection for Consumers


Nova Scotians can look forward to lower auto insurance rates and more protection based on a government plan announced today, June 25, by Environment and Labour Minister Ron Russell.

The government's plan lowers auto insurance rates for consumers by an average of 20 per cent. The plan also introduces better protection and more options to the insurance system for consumers.

"After listening carefully to the issues faced by Nova Scotians, we've developed a comprehensive plan that meets their needs," said Mr. Russell. "The result is a strong, effective plan that addresses the heart of the problem and substantially reforms our insurance system."

The government's plan reduces auto insurance premiums by an average of 20 per cent. This is achieved by creating a basic insurance package that insurance companies will be required to offer consumers. This basic package limits excessive compensation for minor injuries and claims of pain and suffering. Full coverage for serious injuries will remain unaffected.

"Limiting claims in the case of minor injuries is an important factor in containing costs in the long term," said Mr. Russell. "Since insurance is a very personalized product, there will certainly be different degrees of impact felt by consumers. Information we collected indicates the average decrease will be 20 per cent. Some consumers could see decreases of 40 per cent, depending on their circumstances. These are significant savings for consumers."
"We expect to see immediate rate reductions in the applications filed by insurance companies. If they are not forthcoming, other options will be considered, including a publicly run system in conjunction with the other Atlantic provinces," said Mr. Russell.

The creation of a basic insurance package is the first step in the government's six-point plan to help reduces rates and improve protection for consumers. The other five points are: -- Consumers have the option to purchase additional, enhanced accident benefits. -- Consumers will be protected against future rate increases by a new rate review mechanism. This will include the creation of the Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board to oversee all insurance issues, including auto insurance and property and casualty insurance. The new board will conduct rate reviews, examine and ensure fairness in insurance rules and monitor the system to ensure reforms are working for consumers. -- Consumers who are denied insurance coverage will now receive clear reasons in writing from insurance companies. This is addressed in the Automobile Insurance Underwriting Practices regulations introduced today by government. The regulations also prohibit companies from discriminating against a potential customer based on factors such as age, gender, or previous coverage in Facility Association -- the insurer of last resort for high-risk cases. -- Consumers will be protected from unfair discrimination, especially those that unfairly place them in high-cost Facility Association coverage. This will significantly reduce the number of people who have to be covered by the high-cost Facility Association and will provide further relief to those who have been hardest hit and placed there unfairly in recent years. -- Consumers will receive better information from insurance companies and government on issues that impact their rates and coverage. Specifically, government will introduce an educational driver safety campaign.

All components of the government's plan complement the Council of Atlantic Premiers' common regional approach to lowering automobile insurance rates for Atlantic Canadian consumers.

The government plan includes a detailed work schedule for regulatory and legislative change.

A copy of the plan "Reducing Rates: A Plan That Works" is available on the Environment and Labour Web site at www.gov.ns.ca/enla or by calling 902-424-6331.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotians can look forward to lower auto insurance rates and more protection based on the government's plan announced today (June 25th) by Environment and Labour Minister Ron Russell.

The government's plan lowers auto insurance rates by about 20 per cent. The cost savings will come from a basic insurance package that limits compensation for minor injuries and pain and suffering claims.

The plan also includes changes to legislation and the introduction of new regulations that enhance accident benefits, prohibit discrimination and set out rate reviews.

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Contact:

Valerie Bellefontaine
Environment and Labour 902-424-2575 E-mail:
Penny McCormick
Environment and Labour 902-424-7420 E-mail:
kjd            June 25, 2003       12:31 P.M.