Service NL
March 14, 2019

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh, Minister of Service NL:

Minister Gambin-Walsh Comments on Insurance Rates and the Taxi Industry

Mr. Speaker, while the rising cost of insurance premiums for the taxi industry has been a problem for a long time, our government is the first administration to deal directly with the matter by trying to find solutions.

In 2017, our government initiated a review of the auto insurance system by the Public Utilities Board, which placed a specific focus on the taxi industry, including a closed-claims study specific to taxi operators.

The findings of the PUB report demonstrate that the insurance pressures facing the taxi industry have been ongoing for more than 20 years. Mr. Speaker, one such pressure is reliance on Facility Association - an unincorporated non-profit organization of all automobile insurers. The organization is an insurer of last resort. However, Facility Association currently insures over 95 per cent of the taxi industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

After making no rate applications between 1993 and 2012, Facility Association has filed for rate increases almost yearly since then. The total cumulative rate increases over the period 2012 to 2018 is approximately 244 per cent.

Along with the insurance review, we also met with representatives of the taxi industry on a number of occasions and, together, implemented a number of measures to help strengthen the industry.

Effective July 1, 2018, there were policy amendments focusing on skilled drivers; experience in driving in provincial road conditions; driving history; passenger safety and safer vehicles. A zero tolerance policy for drugs or drugs and alcohol when operating a taxi came into effect on December 18, 2018.

In Budget 2018, government approved a one-third reduction in the tax on auto insurance over four years. This will particularly benefit those paying the highest rates, such as taxi operators.

Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to working with stakeholders, and bringing forward changes to legislation during this sitting of the House that will benefit consumers of insurance in Newfoundland and Labrador, including taxi operators.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

2019 03 14                              2:00 p.m.