Thursday, August 2, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 9:20 PM

Like political football, auto insurance can remain in storage for the Oct. 10 Ontario provincial elections. "Ontario drivers have saved $4.5 billion since November 2003 from lower premiums as a direct result of changes to the (auto insurance) product," says Jane Voll, an economist with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "The average premium per vehicle has dropped from $1,499 to $1,260 annually – a reduction of nearly 16 percent."

Statistics Canada and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario each take a diverse methodology to calculating the cost of insurance than the IBC. FSCO compares the average of rates and changes it approves. This is not identical to prices paid, because some insurers are raising rates while others are making slashes. That means a reduction of 0.13 percent for the entire industry. Since 2003, the rates are on average down 14.3 percent.

Insurance brokers are getting reports of rising insurance claims. Some are expecting rate increases.

George Cooke, the president of Dominion of Canada General Insurance Co., said that his company has no plans to raise its rates, but will review its stance once industry figures on claims in the first half come available in a few weeks.

Voll says that auto insurance prices could be held within the range of other consumer prices if the government reacts to early signs of cost inflation, and "follows the worldwide trend toward a more competitive rate approval regime."

The issue will not be hyped during the election. But people expect everything will be back to normal after that.

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