Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Provincial vote delays MPI rebate mailouts

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STILL expecting a rebate cheque from Manitoba Public Insurance?

You'll have to wait until after Oct. 5 before it lands in your hands, MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said Tuesday.

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The Crown corporation got permission in June to send out a second round of rebate cheques, but decided to wait until after the Oct. 4 provincial election to mail them in order to stay within the spirit of the Elections Finances Act. The legislation specifies that no government department or Crown agency can publish or advertise any information about its programs or activities 90 days before voting day.

Smiley also said the second round of rebate cheques will be a lot smaller than the first earlier this year, when MPI refunded $320 million to vehicle owners. In the first round, the average cheque was about $450. The average cheque amount will be about $100 in the net round. Most vehicle owners who got a full payment in the spring won't get a second cheque. As many as 157,000 ratepayers could benefit, including 22,000 who received no rebate and 135,000 who received only partial rebates.

Smiley said MPI did not calculate the first rebate any differently than in past years. But in past years, drivers didn't notice the discrepancy because it was considerably smaller, he added.

Those affected are ratepayers who changed their policy during the 2009-10 insurance year when they bought new vehicles. The new rebate -- the equivalent of about $17 million -- is calculated on the premiums paid in the fiscal year 2009-10 and on the 2009-10 insurance rating year.

Smiley added another rebate is not planned for next year.

Instead, MPI has asked the Public Utilities Board, for an overall average 6.8 per cent decrease in premiums for the 2012/13 insurance year. If approved, more than 900,000 Manitoba vehicles will have reduced basic auto insurance premiums next year. For example, MPI says the average premium for family passenger vehicles will be $836, down $61 from the 2011/12 rates.

The proposed reduction is due to fewer injury claims and reduced theft costs. The PUB hearing starts Oct. 3.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2011 A7

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