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Here’s What is Happening with Auto Insurance in Brampton



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Here’s What is Happening with Auto Insurance in Brampton

The auto insurance issue over high premiums in Brampton continues to garner attention as of late.

Recently, Brampton MPP Gurratan Singh introduced a private members bill to stop high premiums being charged to drivers just because they live in Brampton. Singh, a member of the NDP, was followed by PC MPP Parm Gill from Milton who introduced his own bill to address the same issue.

However, it has been pointed out that there is an important difference between the two bills both MPPs brought forward.

Singh’s Bill 44 would prevent insurance companies from charging GTA residents different insurance rates solely because of where they live within the region, or face the penalties set out by the Insurance Act.

It would do this by requiring the Superintendent of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to refuse to approve risk classification systems that don’t consider the GTA as a single geographic area, and prohibit insurers from entering into contracts with insurance rates based on such a risk classification system.

By contrast, Gill’s Bill 42 would amend the Insurance Act so the risk classification system used by insurers would prohibit them from using factors primarily related to postal or telephone area code for the residence of a person who would be an insured person under an insurance contract. It also requires the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario to make a rule to the same effect.

In layman’s terms, both bills are about trying to address the same issue (high auto insurance rates for Brampton) but using different means of doing so. Singh’s bill primarily is about reclassifying the entire GTA, while Gill’s legislation seeks to address the specific issue of postal code being tied to one’s insurance premiums.

Brampton PC MPP Prabmeet Sakaria pointed this out in a statement he released:

“A good driver in Brampton should be paying the same rates as a good driver in Caledon. This is the fundamental principle that underlines MPP Gill’s bill, which we are excited to support,” Sakaria said in his statement.

“Through his bill, MPP Singh wants the GTA to be considered as a single geographic area for rate setting. This will only serve to increase costs for drivers across the GTA. MPP Gill’s bill proposes fundamental changes to the auto insurance system and will benefit drivers in the GTA and across the province.”

Sakaria’s comments echo similar sentiments I raised some time ago over the merits of reclassifying auto insurance rates under a single geographic area for the GTA.

But Singh was at Queen’s Park last week to present an open letter signed by a number of lawyers and legal professionals supporting his bill. The lawyers pointed out that there were loopholes in Gill’s proposal that would allow insurers to exploit drivers, while Singh’s bill closes those loopholes.

While Singh’s bill did not pass, Gill’s legislation is still going through the process. As the Tories are in government, it stands a good chance to pass through the hurdles. Singh, however, vowed to continue to fight on this matter.

At the end of the day, it seems Gill’s legislation stands a better chance of passing with the weight of a majority Tory government behind it…unless the Ford government decides to introduce legislation themselves.

If that’s the case, Gill could withdraw his bill in favour of the government’s legislation should that come to pass.

The wider debate is over whether the GTA should be classified as a riskier area to drive, being an agglomeration of urban areas where driving is more frequent which means more chances to get into accidents…or should it be tied to one’s driving record?

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