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Penalized for being a good driver


This week hearings to determine whether Manitoba drivers should pay more for their automobile insurance are scheduled to continue with the Public Utilities Board.
Manitoba Public Insurance is requesting an average rate hike of 2.7 percent for its customers but also stiffer penalties for drivers who fall below the zero safety rating. While those above it would see no rate change, customers in the negative could see their license fees increase by $100 to $500, with those on the lowest end of the scale – ranking -20 – charged as much as $3,000 to renew.
As you may or may not know, I resided in Alberta for a few years back in my early 20s. Those were in the good old days when oil money flowed freely and, on top of already low taxes, everyone’s buddy Ralph Klein actually gave us money just to live there.
While there are many things that are done differently just two provinces over, one of the hardest things for me to grasp as a former Manitoban was the freedom to chose your automobile insurance company (and your power provider as well). While the province issues driver’s licenses, for automobile coverage, you were on your own.
What did this mean? That extremely good drivers were rewarded heavily with discounts and bad drivers just didn’t drive if they didn’t have an endless supply of money. For example, my husband was a very good driver and at an age where he was no longer penalized just for being young (because yes, experience is taken into account as well). This meant that it cost us just as much to insure both of our vehicles in Alberta as it did to just insure one of them in Manitoba. But, we also knew some bad drivers who might pay upwards of three times the Manitoba rate for their insurance. And, it was quite similar when it came to licensing fees.
Moral of the story – if you had a good driving record you worked pretty darn hard to keep it that way for fear of self inflicted rate hikes.
To me, this makes sense. If I’m a good driver and I have never made an at fault claim in my life, why should I pay the same as my neighbour whose vehicle seems to be in the shop every other weekend.
The change to the fee structure is estimated to raise $17.5 million in additional revenue for the Crown corporation and while I think the idea of penalizing bad drivers is an excellent idea I also think that the company should look at further rewarding those of us that are on the other end of the spectrum. Because, while I sit near the top of the positive scale, all I’ve seen my bills go is up in the past few years.
So, while the proposed 2.7 percent overall increase will only see motorist’s bills rise by approximately $29 per year, I still kind of feel like I’m being penalized. DGB