Motorcycle advocates are protesting in downtown Montreal today to mark the launch of a $100 million class-action lawsuit against Quebec's automobile insurance board (SAAQ).
The Motorcyclist Movement of Quebec, which represents more than 8,000 motorcyclists in the province, says hikes in insurance premiums are unfair and discriminate against motorcycle owners.
The organization's president and founder, Michael Mosca, says license plate registration fees have increased by 400 per cent since 2008.
"They’re being discriminated upon. It’s a very abusive law," he says.
While Mosca admits that motorcycles are high-risk vehicles, he said insurance costs should be shared by all motorists.
"When there are accidents between cars and motorcycles, 94 or 95 per cent of the time it’s the car’s fault, so the motorcyclist is being punished when he’s not at fault."
However, the SAAQ says the premiums are needed in order to compensate victims involved in motorcycle accidents.
The board adjusted insurance premiums after a review revealed a $109 million deficit in 2006.
At the time, motorcyclists were paying $35 million in premiums and their insurance coverage was costing the SAAQ about $144 million.
SAAQ spokesman François Rémillard says the board has been willing to work with motorcyclist advocates in the past, pointing out that in 2011, they were able to lower insurance rates by 3 to 24 per cent.
Considering their recent collaboration, Rémillard says the lawsuit comes as a shock.
"Our reaction is one of surprise," he said.
But, instead of increasing fees, Mosca says the SAAQ should do more to educate people about road safety. He says that it's time people change their minds about motorcycles.
"Motorcycles consume less fuel, they cause less pollution, less damage to the roads, which is beneficial to the whole planet," he said.