We currently have the most expensive auto insurance premiums in Canada despite also having one of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities. The average auto insurance premium in Ontario is $1,458, which is almost 55 per cent higher than the average of all other Canadian jurisdictions.
Public auto insurance programs, such as those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, take a different approach. Standard rates apply to every driver, regardless of age or gender. Auto insurance is much less expensive for a 20-year-old full-time student in Winnipeg driving the same car as his counterparts in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.
After studying the industry for years, CAC concluded that a properly run public insurance system was the best choice, but found itself locked into a debilitating public relations battle with the private industry.
Interestingly private insurers have paid $290-million in secret commissions to insurance brokers who steered business their way. This practice had a direct impact on consumers – instead of hunting for the best price for their customers, brokers sold the policy that offered them the highest commission.
A public auto insurance system can offer fundamental business advantages. Most important, a public system reduces overhead costs – instead of multiple companies, each with its own head office, computer systems, etc., there is just one, which cuts duplication and creates efficiencies of scale.
Other significant savings include profit margin (public insurance systems don't have to pay dividends to shareholders) and advertising – public systems don't have to budget for TV spots and a talking gecko. Public insurance plans can also control costs more effectively – body shops, medical clinics and towing companies must comply with rates set by the public plan, which wields monopoly power over suppliers. Ontario's private insurers, on the other hand, face ongoing problems with gouging and fraud.