Auto Insurance “reform” and the Columbia Icefield Incident

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Mr Kenney and Mr Toews,

I thank our premier for his heartfelt tweet below. It represents the pulse of all Albertans.

I think we can all agree that victims deserve our compassion and prayers.

When this insurance “crisis” first manifested itself last fall, I noticed lawyers like myself (who employ thousands of Albertans) and the victims we represent, were being blamed for rising insurance rates (as opposed to the rising costs of repairing vehicles, rising treatment costs, insurance company greed, or anything else).

Lawyers have a duty to represent victims such as the ones below and make sure they are taken care of as much as possible and insofar as the law permits. This is our duty. Insurers have an opposing duty: to protect and defend the negligent driver and owner. That is, and always has been, their duty under the Insurance Act.

It is easy to blame lawyers and get them out of the equation and take away rights to sue—that is what insurers want. The consequence of this goal is obvious: victims lose, insurance profits skyrocket. The vast majority of these insurers are not based in Alberta.

I want you to please both to imagine what life would look like for these victims if the IBC gets their no-fault campaign made into reality. Their “no-fault/ no sue” campaign is under the guise of “choice” but what “choice” would these victims have if they are stripped or further restricted (there are already caps) of their inherent and democratic right to sue for their lifelong injuries? They would be at the mercy of an insurer who has a duty to protect and defend the negligent, impaired, or criminal, driver and owner. How would you feel if, God forbid, you were or your loved ones were on that bus and your right to be compensated and provided with care and treatment was in the hands of an insurer who has a duty to defend the very party that caused the injury? How would that impact Alberta Health care costs?

Is this what Albertans want? Is this what the UCP wants?

I have never had one client complain to me in my lengthy career about not having enough “choice” in insurance options. I have no idea why this is even being contemplated, and the only conclusion is that this is the spin-doctoring the IBC must use to try and “sell” this nonsense to the public. Albertans are not stupid. 

The only real “choice” here is whether we side with the victim or the party that caused the injury. Which will you choose?

Call me any time if you wish to discuss.

Thank you,

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm was awarded the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) President's Award for 2012--awarded to a member of the Alberta bar who has distinguished himself or herself by his or her contribution to the profession or the community, the advancement of the law or their service to ACTLA. He has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta (Provincial Court, Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal) as well as the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.

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