In 2004, the Alberta government introduced a number of reforms to improve affordability after claims costs increased significantly. One of the reforms was the Minor Injury Regulation (MIR), which caps the pain and suffering awards for collision victims who have sustained minor injuries. This cap controls claims costs and, by extension, is meant to keep premiums stable.
The Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation (DTPR) was introduced at the same time to work alongside the MIR by providing collision victims who sustained minor injuries with pre-approved medical treatment through auto insurance medical coverage. A person with a common sprain or strain can access between 10 and 21 pre-approved, evidence-based treatment visits with a physician, physical therapist and/or chiropractor, as well as with an adjunct therapist (massage therapist or acupuncturist). Designed to help collision victims recover as quickly as possible, this offers Alberta drivers a no-questions-asked, pre-approved, insurer-paid treatment based on prevailing medical literature.
The interpretation of the MIR changed in 2012 and again in 2015 after court decisions ruled that those having certain common injuries were not subject to the cap. This resulted in more minor injury claims receiving court awards in line with more serious injuries. As a result, bodily injury claims costs – which are largely driven by the costs of settling claims after a collision – have become the primary driver of total claims increases. After being stable, the average bodily injury claims cost has increased by roughly 9% per year, from $41,534 in 2011 to $74,470 in 2018, according to Oliver Wyman, the Alberta Automobile Insurance Rate Board’s consulting actuary.*