Manitoba Public Insurance has staff working overtime to deal with the thousands of vehicle crashes reported in Winnipeg in December, while local garages are also trying to work through a backlog of damaged vehicles.

About 21,000 incidents in Winnipeg were reported to the public auto insurer last month, making it the busiest December it has had in about 15 years.

"It's been very busy," said Lamont Kramer, who has been working as an MPI claims estimator for nine years.

Lamont Kramer

Lamont Kramer, an estimator with Manitoba Public Insurance, says staff are trying to process as many claims as they can and send damaged vehicles to shops. (Alana Cole/CBC)

There have been so many claims, MPI's compound for write-off and non-driveable vehicles has been over capacity.

At one point, about 2,900 vehicles were sitting in the compound — about 800 more than what it can accommodate.

MPI says to deal with the backlog, it has staff working overtime, working evening shifts and bringing employees in on weekends.

For example, 24 estimators were on the clock last Saturday, trying to process as many vehicles as possible.

"We've been doing a lot of, you know, different claims, just trying to get as many out to the shops as we can," said Kramer.

Garages also busy

Meanwhile, auto garages across the city are dealing with backlogs of vehicles needing to be repaired.

Preston Brockie, a manager at the Boyd Autobody & Glass location on Nairn Avenue, said it has been twice as busy these days than it was at the beginning of December.

"The complaints that we got [were] about ... the ruts in the roads, the icy conditions," he said.

"Actually, a lot of it's been the snow built up on the boulevards, where they're trying to peek out and they're not being able to see oncoming traffic and they're getting clipped."

Brockie noted that cars coming from the MPI compound are taking longer to fix than what he's observed in the past.

"With the cold temperatures, you know, they're coming in with dead batteries and not-movable cars," he said.

"So the process to get them in, get them fixed, getting parts ordered, is taking a couple weeks."

Officials with MPI say it won't be known until June if the high number of collisions and claims will affect Manitobans' insurance rates.