New Brunswick Bill 1 Reportedly Too Much, Too Late

New Brunswick auto insurers have reportedly been caught in a bureaucratic process that until now has effectively prevented insurers from providing relief for consumers. Bill 1 changes the rules so that insurers can immediately begin using lower rates as soon as they file their rate reductions with the Public Utilities Board.

“The industry has been completely frustrated by the current regulations,” said Don Forgeron, VP Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada. “Insurance companies have been more than willing to comply with the government’s rate reduction policy but, before this bill, we were essentially not even allowed to apply for lower rates because of the pending PUB hearing process. Forcing more regulation on our industry has not helped New Brunswick consumers,” said Forgeron.

“The government could have avoided all this by establishing clear rules very early on in the process,” said Forgeron. “Many more companies would have filed for rate reductions and consumers would have benefited sooner. Up to this point, we have been complying with all the requirements and now with Bill 1 we can get on with filing and using lower rates for consumers. However, since the government waited to clarify the rules, consumers will still have to wait for insurers to calculate and return retroactive refunds,” added Forgeron.

To date, companies that insure almost half the motoring public in New Brunswick have filed for rate reductions with the province’s Public Utilities Board (PUB). Many others have reportedly opted to wait for the conclusion of the hearings given that they were told their filings would not be approved if they in fact filed them with the Board.

The PUB hearing will start on Aug. 11 with a review of insurance industry data on the proposed cap on pain and suffering awards. Several groups have been granted intervenor status and it could reportedly be weeks before a report is issued.