Quebec automobile insurance board moving online

The SAAQ is moving some 300 services to an online portal at the end of February. (Hans David Campbell/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The SAAQ is moving some 300 services to an online portal at the end of February. (Hans David Campbell/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Quebecers who need services from the automobile insurance board (SAAQ) should try to drop by before next Friday.

The SAAQ is about to bundle all its services into one online portal launching Feb. 20, but the transition could be somewhat tricky for the public.

Between Jan. 26 and the launch of the portal, many non-essential services will be suspended. However, the SAAQ says its service points will remain open during the transition period to answer clients' questions.

Once it is up and running, people can log on to the SAAQclic site and find a full range of services from licence renewal, and vehicle registration to submitting medical information — anything normally done in-person or over the phone.

"It's a system we've been working on for five, seven years. It's a huge transformation. It's the culmination of all our efforts," said SAAQ president Denis Marsolais.

"Yes, it took time, but we had to do things right. I think the membership rate will be significant."

SAAQ customers wishing to obtain information on their file currently have to call or go to a branch.

Officials say the new portal integrates some 300 systems into one place but during the transition period many services — including payments — will not be accessible. The SAAQ recommends going through your bank to make any payments during this time. Once working, the website will accept online transactions.

"We are going to go from 300 systems that do not talk to each other to an integrated system. A billion pieces of data will be moved," said the SAAQ's vice-president of digital experience, Karl Malenfant.

He says that security and the protection of personal data will also improve due to the traceability of online information.

Gradual transition

Essential services like replacing a lost licence, retaking a practical exam, registering a vehicle, road accident compensation and others will still be offered during the transition period. Once the system goes online, SAAQ service centres will remain open but will reorganize their operations.

The SAAQ clarified that certain services qualified as essential will be maintained during the readjustment period.

For example, motorists will still be able to replace a lost or stolen driver's license and retake a practical exam. A driver may also be compensated in the event of a road accident.

An adjustment period is also planned until May.

"Customers will have to expect delays. Our employees will be learning," says Jean-Philippe Mckenzie, vice-president of the safe access to the road network.

The SAAQ says that its employees have been training since September to better support customers with the future portal. It admits that the digital shift will allow them to make up for the lack of manpower, but no service outlet closures are planned for the moment.

"Our counter service offer will now be adapted to customers with special needs and no longer to mass transactions," adds Jean-Philippe Mckenzie.

Practical driving tests will still be carried out at SAAQ service centres but appointments will be made through the portal.

The new SAAQclic website will cost the government $458 million.