NB Libs release faulty auto insurance premium survey results

I don’t understand the provincial Liberal’s positioning on the auto insurance issue. I realize they are trying to differentiate their policies from the PCs and they see this as an opportunity but from a rationale perspective I can’t figure this out. A decade ago, Premier Frank McKenna was in Toronto trying to convince financial services firms to locate in New Brunswick – many of them did – there are close to 2,000 people working for RBC, CIBC, etc. that would not be here if it were not for the efforts of the former Premier. Ironically, perhaps, several of these firms handle insurance business in the province. Now, provincial Liberal leader Shawn Graham is in Toronto (figuratively) telling the industry that he would socialize auto insurance. What’s next? Home insurance? How about life insurance? Heck, why not socialize the entire financial services industry while you are at it. I, personally have more problems with the lack of investment capital here than auto insurance premiums.

Here’s a clip from the T&T article today:

A Liberal-sponsored poll released Wednesday suggested the average annual automobile insurance premium in the province is more than $1,800. However, the polling company miscalculated the findings and the Liberals were forced to resend their release late yesterday, saying the average premium was actually $1,128.

Now, the first rule of these types of surveys is that the numbers have to fall in the bounds of reality or they should be questioned. $1,800 wasn’t the average rate at the height of the auto insurance crisis. The Liberals should have realized that these numbers were bogus long before they released them.

If I was advising the Libs, I would say they should position themselves as the party of economic development. It’s obvious that the Tories are not. I guess that leaves the NDP to be the champion of economic growth.

Look it. I am not defending the auto insurance sector. In response to rapidly escalating claims – particularly soft tissue – they panicked and raised their rates all at once freaking out a bewildered public. But I think that the reforms seem to be working and the Liberal should move on.

Unless they can get accurate data that backs up their position – which they haven’t yet.

Let me give you a friggin’ case study. My auto insurance rate today on my minivan (yes, three kids, no less) is about $100 bucks more than it was five years ago. My property taxes went up almost $400 in one year (that whole reassessment thing). My power bill will go up 13% – or hundreds of dollars – because of NB Power problems.

So, for me, auto insurance is a backburner issue. It will lead to acrimony between the NB government and the business community and I figure we don’t need that. How about fixing the bloody house assessment process so that citizen’s like me don’t get gouged? How about focusing on NB Power?

Remember that huge white elephant – the Tory promise to remove the tolls on the Fred/Mon highway? Remember that deal that has cost NB taxpayers tens of millions since 1999 and will utimately cost us hundreds of millions? Well, the Tories would have won without that silly promise. Now Nova Scotia is raking in millions on their toll highway. PEI the same. NB nada.

Auto insurance just may turn out to be the provincial Liberal’s white elephant. An election platform that garners limited votes but costs the province deeply in other ways.

Focus on what matters. If we can turn around the serious economic challenges facing most of New Brunswick – nobody will care about auto insurance – especially if rates are in line with national trends.