Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Website criticizes way MPI operates

Two former Manitobans collect tales of woe

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A pair of former Manitobans are behind a website that bills itself as revealing the "Dirty Little Secrets of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation."

Mpisucks.com launched roughly eight months ago with the goal of educating Manitobans "on the danger they're in with Autopac insurance, the way it's being run," said webmaster Martin Vogt.

Vogt said he started the site with friend James Rowe in part due to his wife's experiences with MPI after an accident that left her unable to work.

The website is a text-heavy attack on the insurance corporation, asserting MPI pays "relatively little for horrible permanent injuries" and that students are "particularly at risk," among other claims.

It's had about 4,000 visitors since launching and is the third site to pop up on a Google search for "Manitoba Public Insurance." It also features roughly a dozen e-mails from readers sharing tales of woe, which Vogt said he believes are true accounts.

"What I've discovered through people posting stories is that they're even worse than I imagined, the situations," he said. "People have lost their houses, I've discovered. It never occurred to me that that could be the case."

One of Vogt's main beefs is with the MPIC Act, a mammoth document he'd like to see rewritten. He said the corporation should pay more attention to people's economic situations before their accidents and factor that into their salary replacement. Numerous letters to politicians have resulted in mostly "flippant, partisan responses" he said.

Both Vogt and Rowe have both since moved out of the province, one to Alberta and another to British Columbia, but decided to keep maintaining the site.

MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said the corporation is aware of the website, but has no plans to challenge it or try to have it taken down.

"We're confident that when people do come to us, that our front-line staff, be it our estimators, be it our adjusters, they pass on competent information to our customers."

However, he did questioned the validity of some of the website's claims.

"Some of it's inaccurate, some of it's misleading, some of it needs further explanation," he said, pointing to the section on student coverage through MPI. The corporation pays benefits according to one's job at the time of the accident, and is criticized on the website for not factoring in future career options.

Smiley said the information is misleading, because where students might go in life is "impossible to predict."

lindsey.wiebe@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 11, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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