Ukrainian refugees in NL charged five times more for auto insurance

Adilya Dragan noted that for many of the 166 refugees in NL, the steep auto insurance rates are among their biggest economic concerns. According to her, many refugees have secured jobs that pay only $15 to $20 an hour, making the high rates unfeasible.

“It’s really a lot,” she told The Canadian Press.

And earning more than $20 is a problem in itself; some of the immigrants – particularly those who cannot speak English – have only been able to secure jobs outside the downtown area, Dragan explained. She also added that others have managed to find jobs in St. John’s but cannot secure housing in the area’s relatively dry rental market.

These exorbitant rates are not a new thing, explained Monica Abdelkader, director of settlement services with NL’s Association for New Canadians.

“This is a problem that has long plagued newcomers,” stated Abdelkader. “A lot of work has been done in this area, investigations have been done in the past, and nothing has really changed.”

Abdelkader noted that refugees arrived without Canadian driver’s licenses, from countries where it could be difficult to obtain driving records and other paperwork. While their insurance costs would eventually go down, it would take some 90 days in Canada first, the director said, and then it would drop again after one year.

The government has encouraged insurers to treat refugees better.

“Government is calling on the insurance industry of our province to do as the entire province has done, which is come forward and offer solutions and not exploit this as an opportunity for increased revenue,” said NL Minister of Immigration Gerry Byrne, who added that insurers are not under any obligation by the province or the utilities board to charge steep rates.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has encouraged both Ukrainians and insurance brokers to contact the bureau to air out their insurance concerns. It also recommended that Ukrainians should notify brokers about why certain paperwork related to their driving histories is missing.

“We’re having an awful lot of conversations on this, this very topic and others right now,” IBC Atlantic vice-president Amanda Dean told The Canadian Press, who also said that IBC “absolutely [wants] to work with brokers and government” to resolve pricing issues.

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