Opposition Liberals are demanding the Alward government make changes to the New Brunswick Insurance Board, after the credibility of the board was questioned by the highest court in the province.
The New Brunswick Court of Appeal ordered the 2010 rate application by Dominion of Canada General Insurance be reheard, and banned the members of the New Brunswick Insurance Board who were at the original hearing from taking part.
The province alleges that the New Brunswick Insurance Board has allowed the entire auto insurance industry to charge too much in New Brunswick for several years, and has chosen Dominion as a test case to prove it. The province believes allowing a rate increase in 2010 was a mistake, and Dominion would still be profitable with a $1,000,000 rate cut.
In the new hearing on Monday, Dominion acknowledged that there were some errors in its numbers and a small rate reduction was warranted in 2010. However company vice president Scott Beattie told the hearing Dominion has a "philosophy of price stability" and prefers to leave rates alone rather than change them by modest amounts each year.
On Tuesday, in the legislature, Liberal MLA Chris Collins called on the PC government to fix the board.
"We believe the government should be acting very quickly on this to ensure New Brunswick ratepayers are being charged only a reasonable rate for their car insurance, and are not being gouged," said Collins. "We're asking for a third-party independent individual or group to come and look at this, to come up with what's going on in the system, why it is the way it is."
The Liberals said one of the problems is that the Lord government appointed a Progressive Conservative partisan, Paul d'Astous, to chair the board when it was created.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal included an order that d'Astous, who heard the Dominion application the first time, be banned the second time.
Justice Minister Marie-Claude Blais said she will consider changes to the N.B. Insurance Board, but only after Dominion's rate application is decided for the second time.
"Once we have the ins and outs of everything that happened, the conclusion, then if we as a government feel that it's appropriate to take certain steps, I can tell you we will take them," Blais said.
The Insurance Board of New Brunswick re-heard the Dominion application this week and will rule later.