Ontario drivers could save 40 on auto insurance but current structure is

TORONTO — A report on auto insurance in Ontario has found that the province has the most expensive premiums despite also having one of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities.The government-commissioned report calling Ontario’s auto insurance system “one of the least effective” in Canada was quietly posted online last week.Ontario’s adviser on auto insurance says it’s disappointing that as the number of accidents have gone down, the cost of claims has risen.“The structure is flawed: Current trends do not indicate that the system will self-correct,” the report said.David Marshall reports that Ontario’s system is filled with disputes and inefficiencies, and a high percentage of premiums are going to experts and lawyers instead of injured people.The report notes that Ontario’s average auto insurance premium for 2015 at $1,458 per vehicle, represents a significant expenditure for the average Ontarian.That premium is 24 per cent higher than Alberta’s, double the premium in Quebec and almost 55 per cent higher than the Canadian average, excluding Ontario. Ontario drivers pay about $10 billion in insurance premiums a year.“If Ontario could achieve a premium level approaching the Canadian average of about $930 it would save Ontario drivers almost 40 per cent off its current level – about $4 billion a year or some $20 billion over a five-year period – that’s the opportunity gap,” the report said.The report comes as the Liberal government is still trying to fulfil a promise to reduce rates by 15 per cent on average from 2013 levels.The government missed its self-imposed deadline of August 2015 to hit that target and Premier Kathleen Wynne has admitted that was a “stretch goal.”The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has not yet posted approved rates from the first quarter of 2017, but as of the end of 2016, the average decrease since August 2013 was about 8.3 per cent, putting the government a little over halfway to its goal.The government has lowered the maximum interest rate that an insurer can charge for monthly auto premium payments, prohibited minor at-fault accidents from boosting premiums and introduced a winter tire discount.The Canadian Press with files from Financial Post Staff

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