Driving instructors struggling with increased insurance costs under N.L.'s 'insurer of last resort'

·3 min read
Josh Vey of A+ Drivers (left) and Paul Prowse of Smart Driver Training say instructor vehicles are some of the safest on the street, but they are insured like negligent drivers. (CBC - image credit)
Josh Vey of A+ Drivers (left) and Paul Prowse of Smart Driver Training say instructor vehicles are some of the safest on the street, but they are insured like negligent drivers. (CBC - image credit)

Driving instructors teach people to drive safely, but according to instructors in the St. John's area, they're now considered as uninsurable as a dangerous driver might be.

Two instructors say they've recently been grouped in with negligent drivers in terms of insurance, and they don't know why.

"We're educating people on highway safety," says Paul Prowse of Smart Driver Training. "I mean, in our opinion, we're the safest vehicles on the street."

"There's no other market out there for us, so I guess the insurance companies just said, 'OK let's just poke them into [Facility Association].'"

Facility Association is a national non-profit group of insurers designed to provide insurance to drivers deemed uninsurable through other providers due to their driving record or being considered a high-risk client. On their website, they refer to themselves as "the insurer of last resort."

'Wild West' for insurance

Josh Vey of A+ Drivers says his company previously held insurance with Co-Operators insurance, paying $6,000 per vehicle, per year. That ended in March, when he said his company was forced to go with Facility Association, and he doesn't know why.

"As of April 1, we are paying almost $8,000 per year, per vehicle, and I have four vehicles," said Vey.

"So you're talking a $2,000 increase per car. That's a lot to try to make up."

Like Vey, Prowse said he was forced in Facility Association coverage last month, and both now say the increased expenses — combined with gas prices — mean they are going to have to raise rates to keep up.

"The sad part is the price has to be passed on to the customer, and it's not through any fault of the customer in my opinion. It's through lack of oversight in the industry," Vey said.

"It's the Wild West for insurance out there."


"There are people that are in Facility Association who do not need to be in there," said Prowse, "And I would consider us one of those people."

Over 90 per cent of taxi operators in the province are also only able to be insured through Facility Association, prompting operators to demonstrate in front of Confederation Building calling for better options.

Driver instructor insurance available elsewhere

"Other provinces, such as Ontario, have driver instructor insurance. That's a thing," Vey said. "We don't have such a market here."

He said the insurance industry isn't interested in making a change.

"It's a very unique market market with unique needs," said Vey, "and unfortunately, we're dumped into Facility because, A, the insurance companies don't really want to deal with us and B, they certainly don't want to go out of their way to create a new market."

"The government is not interested in getting involved, as much as they might respond to our emails … I've been ignored just as many times as I've been responded to. They're not willing to direct the Public Utilities Board to regulate this."

In a statement to CBC News, the Department of Digital Government and Service NL said the the Automobile Insurance Act is reviewed every five years and they'll include what driving instructors have to say in the next review.

"There is no legislative requirement for driving schools to be insured through Facility Association. Digital Government and Service NL suggests driving companies contact insurance brokers licensed to operate in the province to determine if they would provide the necessary coverage," the statement read.

"Public input is an important component to this process, and any comments from driving schools will be considered in the upcoming review."

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