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Saskatchewan's Crown insurance company, SGI, reports that accident claims have risen, likely due to prolonged winter weather. ((CBC))

The number of vehicle accident claims filed with Saskatchewan Government Insurance was up 12 per cent in the first three months of 2009 — with weather a possible factor in the increase.

There were 40,255 accidents reported from the Jan. 1 to the end of March, compared with 35,965 over the same period in 2008.

In Regina, reported accidents went from 7,846 to 11,345. In Saskatoon, the figure went from 12,719 to 13,063.

Preliminary numbers for collision costs filed between January and March this year is $79.6 million, up 19 per cent from last year.

Weather was a factor in many accidents, according to the Regina police service.

"Definitely, with the snowy conditions, icy conditions, [we find] that there are more collisions and accidents," Regina Police Service spokeswoman Lara Guzik-Rostad said.

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Mike Mario, owner of Regina Autobody, says his shop has been very busy with accident repairs. ((CBC))

 Regina Auto Body owner Mike Mario said he's been very busy, noting that 99 per cent of his business is related to insurance claims.

The increasing number of cars in the province, slippery roads and cold temperatures all contribute to fender benders, Mario said.

Some body shops in the city said they're backlogged and motorists with repairs to be done may have to wait two weeks or more.