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Passenger vehicles will take bigger hit

Even though Manitoba Public Insurance seeks an overall rate hike of 3.4 per cent, those who drive passenger vehicles would take more of a hit -- a 3.7 per cent increase.

MPI announced its request to increase rates on Monday. The request will go to the Public Utilities Board, which will rule on the request in December. Typically, the PUB ruling doesn't accept the MPI request as is, but strikes a compromise that historically has been lower than the request, which means the actual rate will most likely not increase by 3.4 per cent.

The request breaks down the rates into different vehicle classes. Passenger vehicles, all-purpose trucks, antiques and collector's vehicles all fall into the Private Passenger Vehicles: Major Class category. This group would get an average increase of 3.7 per cent.

Trailers and Public Vehicles, which includes buses and limousines, would see increases of around six per cent. Other classes would have their rates decreased. These include motorcycles, off-road vehicles and commercial vehicles.

Brian Smiley, spokesman for MPI, said the proposed increases are calculated using data about driver habits, number of crashes and number of vehicles in each class.

"We have the advantage of having history on our side. (The numbers) are based on an actuarial formula," Smiley said.

Smiley noted more than half of MPI policyholders would see less than a $20 increase or decrease because of the changes. For passenger vehicle policy-holders, about 36 per cent would see an increase of $20 or less.

Individual insurance premiums are dependent on a number of other factors, Smiley said, including geographic location, the make of a vehicle, the use of the vehicle, and the merit points a policyholder has.

Gloria Desorcy, executive director of the Manitoba branch of the Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC), said the 3.4 per cent increase will put unnecessary financial strain on some people.

"I think this is really going to put pressure on consumers' budgets with the least-flexible income in their budgets," Desorcy said.

The CAC will apply to be an intervener in the PUB hearing, Desorcy said, which means they will speak at the hearing and present their case for or against the proposed rate hike. In the report filed by MPI, president and CEO Dan Guimond said the main reason for the rate hikes was a bad winter with a large increase in claims severity.

"In the face of such unpredictable weather, rising claims costs, increasingly complex vehicle repairs and fluctuations in investment income, we continue to exercise financial restraint and ensure all expenditures are appropriate and beneficial to Manitobans," Guimond said in the report.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

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