The New Brunswick Insurance Board continues to approve insurer requests allowing credit scores to determine driver insurance rates, despite criticism that the practice carries discriminatory implications. Former attorney general Kelly Lamrock said that the use of poor credit to determine auto premiums was comparable with price discrimination by gender and age, saying in an interview with the CBC, “Poverty tends to lead to bad credit.” Similarly, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) raised concerns with the insurance board about how credit discrimination allows companies to subvert anti-discrimination laws, potentially targeting groups such as seniors and single people. “The OAG argues that the inclusion of credit scores in the rating formula may adversely impact those in vulnerable socioeconomic groups as it may lead to increased premiums,” wrote the board in summarizing the government’s legal argument. New Brunswick is not facing this issue alone: Ontario’s Auditor General, too, voiced concerns about credit-based insurance in its 2022 annual report.
UPS AND DOWNS
The office of Ontario’s Auditor General released its 2022 Annual Report in December, where more light was shed on the province’s growing disparity between low crash frequency rates and high auto insurance premiums. Penned by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, this year’s report found the average Ontario auto insurance premium rose by 14 percent from 2017 to 2021, totalling an annual rate of about $1,642, despite the fact that the province often records the lowest crash frequency nationally. The report laid out several suggestions for initiatives that could work to make Ontario’s auto insurance industry more efficient, affordable and equitable for the province’s many drivers. “Like Alberta, Ontario could develop more protocols to treat automobile accident injuries instead of providing cash for those injured to seek their own treatment,” read an excerpt of the report. “Ontario could also follow British Columbia and Saskatchewan in implementing a mandatory licensing or certification regime for automobile repair businesses to protect consumers against poor repairs and fraud.”