Alberta decision projected to increase bodily injury claims costs by 29%

An actuarial report estimates bodily injury claims costs are expected to increase 29% -- implying an estimated 10.8% increase in the basic auto insurance premium -- following a decision in which the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench eliminated the province's Cdn$4,000 cap on payments for damages related to minor auto injuries.
The estimate is contained in a report submitted by the actuarial consulting firm Oliver Wyman Ltd. to the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board.
The board will consider the report in deciding on the annual industry-wide rate level adjustment to become effective on Nov. 1, 2008.
Oliver Wyman's predictions were based in part on the findings contained in a 2004 KPMG report to the Alberta finance department. In it, KPMG found that out of the total 30.2% savings in bodily injury claims presented in the report, 21.3% -- or 70.5% of the total -- was due to the cap on minor injuries and the balance, 8.9%, was for non-cap-related auto insurance reforms.
"We assume this same relative split of costs, 70.5% versus 29.5%, is applicable today," Oliver Wyman notes. "As we estimate the minor injury cap to have resulted in a savings in bodily injury claim costs of 21.6%, we estimate that the repeal of the cap will result in an increase in bodily injury claim costs of 27.6% (1 divided by .784)."

The Oliver Wyman report also assumes the repeal of Alberta's minor injury cap "will cause a reversal" of the trend towards lower severity rates during the post-reform period. As a result, it adjusted its estimate of the increase in future bodily injury claim costs from 27.6% to 29.0%.
"We note that this estimate is intended to provide for future claims and does not provide for claims that had occurred prior to the decision by the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench," the Oliver Wyman report notes.