All governments break promises.
It’s naive to think any political party can fully predict exactly where their policy pronouncements will take them.
There are always complications, unexpected consequences and unforeseen circumstances.
On the other hand, voters tend to expect the government they put in power to more or less keep the promises they make, or at least to substantially move in the right direction toward those promises.
When that doesn’t happen, as is the case with Ontario Liberals who have repeatedly broken promises over 15 years to to address rising auto insurance premiums, voters ought to reasonably conclude their government is either hopelessly incompetent or doesn’t really care.
A new report from the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) finds drivers in this province were overcharged $5 billion to $9.2 billion for car insurance premiums in the past 5 years – while insurance company profits rose 57% from 2012 to 2016 – suggests both.
While the industry disputes OTLA’s numbers, there’s no quibbling over the failure of the Liberals to keep auto insurance rates fair or affordable.
It’s what former Premier Dalton McGuinty first promised to do prior to the 2003 election campaign in a policy document called Lower Rates for a Change: The Ontario Liberal Plan for Auto Insurance.
McGuinty promised to freeze rates, cut them 10% within 90 days of winning office, by another 10% later, to reduce fraud and reform the province’s regulated auto insurance market.
Instead of change, rates climbed — fully 42% since then compared to a 29% rise in inflation.
Auto premiums climbed under Kathleen Wynne despite her 2013 pre-election promise to lower them by 15%, a promise Wynne later called a “stretch goal.”
They’ve climbed despite subsequent promises to reduce rates and address fraud (half of all Ontario insurance companies hiked rates this spring).
The reason Ontario drivers perversely have declining accident and claim rates and rising insurance premiums, the OTLA report suggests, is because the Liberals failed to hold insurance companies accountable for costs and profits – 99% earned a healthy profit in 2016 within a regulated industry.
Everybody wins except Ontario drivers.
Had the government been tougher on insurance companies, it could have lowered rates 15%, the OTLA report suggests.
Instead, the Liberals cut costs for insurance companies and forced drivers to suck up ongoing rate hikes.
Hardly seems fair, to adopt the parlance of the current government, or what was promised.
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