Families with teen drivers may pay more as MPI ordered to study primary-driver registration

Families with teen drivers may pay more as MPI ordered to study primary-driver registration

Manitoba's Public Utilities Board wants to see a change to vehicle registration it says will make insurance rates fairer and bring the province in line with others, but which will cost higher-risk drivers more.

In an order to Manitoba Public Insurance presented on Monday, the board told MPI to complete study options for a new system requiring that vehicles be registered under their primary driver.

- READ THE ORDER: Manitoba Public Insurance general rate application

Current rules allow Manitoba families to register vehicles under the name of the member with the most merits on their driver's licence — even if that's not the vehicle's main driver — which can save families on insurance rates.

Darren Christle, executive director of the Public Utilities Board, said "performance-based rates" are already the norm in every province except Manitoba.

"What you're doing is incentivizing safe driving behaviour, so those that are deemed to be higher-risk would actually pay more than those who are driving safely and prudently," he said.

Those "higher-risk" drivers could include those with demerits because of accidents, or teen drivers who haven't yet amassed merits on their licence.

2.6% rate hike approved

The board gave MPI a year to complete the technical conference and report back, and said the new system should be implemented by 2021. In the same order, the board approved an overall general rate hike of 2.6 per cent, effective March 1.

A spokesperson for MPI told CBC News the Crown corporation will comply with the directive and couldn't provide further detail at this time.

Christle couldn't say how much extra revenue the change would generate for MPI or how it would impact families with teenage drivers using vehicles registered in their parents' names. He said initial evidence suggests a "significant number" of Manitoba families register vehicles to the driver with the best record, but couldn't say what proportion.

"It is different than what Manitobans are used to today," Chrstle said.

He said the technical conference will give MPI the chance to get better information on those questions, as well as how the change could be implemented.

"[The study is] so that we can get good evidence in front of the panel to make a rates decision outside of the hearing process, and that should make us more efficient and give better information to establishing a just and reasonable rate."