Manitoba

MPI says decision to stop accepting pre-authorized credit card payments will save millions, affect 100K people

More than 100,000 Manitobans will have to find a new way to pay their monthly car insurance bill after May 23, when Manitoba Public Insurance will no longer accept pre-authorized monthly credit card payments.

Manitoba Public Insurance will no longer accept pre-authorized monthly credit card payments after May 23

Manitoba Public Insurance customers can still use credit cards if they are paying for their insurance in a lump sum, using the four-payment financing program or if they choose not to use a pre-authorization. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

More than 100,000 Manitobans will have to find a new way to pay their monthly car insurance bill after May 23.

After that date, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will no longer accept pre-authorized monthly credit card payments.

The Crown corporation's spokesperson said the move will save MPI "several million dollars" annually and will affect about 100,000 customers.

"As payment card industry standards continue to evolve, the cost to all MPI ratepayers to continue to offer this payment option would be prohibitive," Brian Smiley said in a written statement.

Customers can still use their credit cards if they are paying for their insurance annually in one lump payment, using the four-payment financing program or if they choose not to use a pre-authorization.

Those who are signed up with a pre-authorized plan will need to visit their nearest broker or MPI service centre to make the change. Impacted customers will receive a notification insert in their renewal or reassessment notice.

The amendment to Manitoba's Automobile Insurance Plan regulation was approved on March 19 through a provincial cabinet order by the premier and his cabinet.

The decision comes on the heels of a reported clash between MPI's board of directors and the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba over the Crown corporation's plan to allow for some basic transactions, like renewing auto insurance, to be done online.

A story in the Winnipeg Free Press quoted an unnamed MPI board member, who said the provincial government is lobbying on behalf of insurance agents.

Smiley would not say whether this amendment would impact online services being discussed, saying the question is "speculative."

When asked if the decision to stop pre-authorized credit card payments was made by MPI, its board or the Manitoba government, he said it was a service operations decision by MPI.

In a statement, Crown Services Minister Colleen Mayer said the change was approved by cabinet for security reasons.

"Ultimately, the proposal that Manitoba Public Insurance brought forward was one aimed at ensuring the sensitive financial data of ratepayers is protected and it is one we agree with," she said.

"Prior to this change, Manitoba Public Insurance was storing credit card data electronically, creating undue risk for serious data breaches where this data could be unwillingly shared and compromised," Mayer said.

"Our government believes this move is better for ratepayers in terms of financial security and will save money in the long run."

About the Author

Kristin Annable

Reporter

Kristin Annable is a member of CBC's investigative unit based in Winnipeg. She can be reached at kristin.annable@cbc.ca

With files from Ian Froese

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