IBC Unveils Results of Survey on Reform of Auto Insurance Act

October 7, 2003

A survey conducted for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reportedly clearly shows that Quebecers’ support for the reform of the Automobile Insurance Act, as proposed by the government, drops
significantly when they become aware of the possible consequences of the plan. With the new legislative session beginning in a few weeks, IBC is releasing the results of the survey.

An analysis of the survey reveals that, while the majority of the
population seems to be spontaneously in favour of the changes proposed by the government, perceptions vary greatly when respondents are confronted with specific situations. In order to measure the public’s support for the government’s plan, cases examples were presented to the respondents.

The results of this exercise are reportedly very revealing.

For instance, 77 percent of respondents initially stated that they were in favour of the amendment aimed at cutting off benefits for criminal drivers, but awarded it an average score of 4.5 out of 10 when asked about a specific case. With respect to reinstating the right to sue, the rate of approval dropped from 69 percent to a score of 4.6 out of 10.

Finally, after the persons surveyed learned about three actual cases
concerning the reimbursement by criminal drivers of amounts paid to victims, their support collapsed, falling from 65 percent to scores of 5 out of 10, 3.9 out of 10 and 5.3 out of 10 respectively for the three cases submitted.

“A review of this data shows that the answers are much more varied when the public becomes aware of the actual implications of the government’s plans. This is certainly the reason why respondents feel that the government should provide better compensation to victims (63 percent) rather than reinstate the right to sue,” Jacques Valotaire, chairman of IBC Quebec, said.

Furthermore, when individuals surveyed were told about the possible
consequences of cutting off benefits paid to criminal drivers injured in an accident for which they are responsible, this amendment received the support of 17 percent of respondents only. A large proportion of Quebecers, i.e. 87 percent, felt that it should be imperative to hold public hearings before making a final decision on the proposed changes.

The survey also addressed the issue of premium increases. On this issue, 68 percent of those surveyed felt that the amendments proposed by the government would result in higher automobile insurance premiums. The public’s support for the government’s plan declines significantly as the percentage of premium increase becomes higher.

The survey provides information on the main factors that would prevent individuals, should they be victims of criminal drivers, from suing them even if they have the right to do so. These factors are in decreasing order: lawyers’ fees, long waits, the criminal driver’s insolvency and the psychological pain of having to relive the event during the proceedings.

“The survey confirms that, while the public may find the government’s
intentions commendable, the means used seem inappropriate. We are convinced that once the Quebec people are better informed about the consequences that these changes may bring about, a large majority will want to keep the current no fault system and will oppose the implementation of new judicial proceedings. We hope that the results of this survey will influence the government’s thinking in this matter,” Valotaire concluded.

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