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Letter: Insurance industry asks for even more excessive profits

We feel compelled to respond to the letter written by mainland insurance executive Gordon Murray (“N.L. drivers deserve better insurance rates,” Nov. 22).

There are several significant issues with the facts in Murray’s letter. These include his omission of Labrador in referring to our province and its people — which suggests he has done substandard research into the true story here.

The Campaign to Protect Accident Victims was formed to ensure that people who sustain life-altering injuries in traffic accidents continue to have the right to take legal action and ask for fair compensation.

His other “facts” are more troubling. Murray would have us believe that “Newfoundlanders” are paying too much in insurance premiums because our claims have increased. His own industry’s data suggests he’s wrong. He said that his company, Aviva Canada, currently pays out more to settle insurance claims in Newfoundland and Labrador than they collect in premium dollars. Yet the 2016 Annual Superintendent of Insurance Report showed just 77 per cent of all automobile insurance premiums were paid out in claims in 2016 (an 11 per cent decrease over 2015); for Aviva, the percentage paid out appears to be lower, at about 68 per cent.

The decreasing payouts are in line with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary statistics showing a 25 per cent decline in collisions in N.L. in 2016. It bears mentioning that in 2016, the automobile insurance industry’s underwriting profit from N.L. alone was about $100 million. This is in addition to massive profits the insurers are making on their investments using our premium dollars (all of which money leaves the province), as we mention below. Yet they still want to make more money by paying innocent victims much less.

The Campaign to Protect Accident Victims was formed to ensure that people who sustain life-altering injuries in traffic accidents continue to have the right to take legal action and ask for fair compensation. The insurance industry wants to take away that right by asking our government to place a financial cap on injury claims, dramatically reducing payouts with no regard for the suffering of an injured person — even if that person can no longer lift their child, or ride their ATV, or work because of daily pain. The insurance industry places no value on the lives of those who suffer these injuries.

As lawyers, we see these people in our office every single day. They are in pain, they are worried, and they are unable to make ends meet, all because they were injured by a careless or reckless driver. We do not believe the insurance industry should be able to decide how much a person’s pain is worth. Victims deserve access to our Courts to ensure fair compensation for their pain and suffering. There is already  process in place under existing law to do just that with medical and legal support.

Furthermore, the insurance industry recently reported a whopping $986 million investment profit in the first quarter of 2016. To be clear, the insurance industry takes the premiums that we pay in N.L., invests that money outside the province, and makes an excessive profit (part of the nearly $1 billion in a single quarter) — then argues that the people of N.L. are causing their industry financial harm.

Their solution for lowering premiums? Take away the right to access justice, take away a person’s right to fair compensation, and take away money that people in our province are fairly due if they’re hurt in an accident. It’s a solution not backed by evidence — and with no guarantee that premiums will decrease at all.

The Campaign to Protect Accident Victims believes the insurance industry must stop taking from the people of N.L. Our government should look hard at the excessive profits in this industry and tell insurers to offer fair premiums to the people of Newfoundland — and Labrador.

Don’t let the insurance industry decide what your pain is worth. Don’t let them take away fair compensation.

 

Brad Wicks, Stephen Marshall, Colin Feltham, Blair Rogers, Richard Rogers, Mark Rogers, Kenneth Moyse, James Goodwin, Greg Kirby, Darlene Russell and Adam Crocker
Members, Campaign to Protect Accident Victims

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