First, I wish to thank the organizers for inviting me to this international conference which gathers researchers and representatives from the fields of insurance, economics, and road safety. All conference themes – highway safety, new drivers, risks, fraud, and regulations – merge with the concerns of the public automobile insurance corporation that I head.
I think that the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec’s experience – by its originality and the impressive results achieved in highway safety and quality of service within a relatively short period of time – is likely to be of interest to researchers and insurers. Quebec’s model in the field of automobile insurance for bodily injury is composed of many elements. However, a feature on which I would like to draw your attention is that all those elements are grouped in the same organization. All together under the Societe’s administrative responsibility, they form the integrated model I am going to talk to you about.
Broad description ofthe societe de l’assurance automobile du quebec
The passing of legislation establishing a public automobile insurance plan by the National Assembly paved the way to the creation of the Quebec model. Under the plan, which came into force on March 1, 1978, victims of bodily injury sustained in an automobile accident occurring in Quebec are compensated regardless of which party is to blame. A few months earlier, in September 1977, legislators adopted an Act establishing the Regie de l’assurance automobile du Quebec to administer the new automobile insurance plan.
At the outset, the Regie, which later on became the Societe, was acting exclusively as an automobile insurance company. Various complementary mandates turned the Societe into an integrated model of action in highway safety and automobile insurance. In December 1980, the National Assembly amalgamated the Regie with the Bureau des vehicules automobiles (BVA). Previously the BVA, which came under the Quebec Department of Transport, was entrusted with driver licensing and vehicle registration.
As a result, Regie’s mandate was extended to include activities aimed at changing road users’ habits as well as accident prevention through vehicle safety. Once again in 1990, the National Assembly called upon the Regie. This time the corporation was given the mandate to monitor highway carriers of goods and passengers. That same year, Regie’s corporate name was changed to Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec.
Since its creation some 20 years ago, the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec – within the scope of its mission – has achieved notable results. Here are a few examples.
Compensation and Rehabilitation of Accident Victims
A first example relates to the Societe’s initial mandate, which is to administer a public automobile insurance plan. For the benefit of those of you from outside Quebec, I would like to briefly recall a few facts.
Road Safety Record
Now, I would like to address the results achieved in the road safety record. Since the Societe has been given highway safety responsibilities, the number of persons killed on Quebec roads has decreased by half, dropping from 1,792 in 1979 to 882 in 1995. This result is all the more remarkable since traffic has been growing considerably over the same period.
From 1980 to 1992, Quebec registered one of the most significant declines in fatalities per kilometer travelled of all industrialized countries. In this respect, Quebec’s performance (-58 percent) goes beyond Germany’s (-50 percent) and the United States’ (-48 percent), despite the fact those two countries are among the safest, if their population and traffic rates are considered.
Without those tremendous results in accident prevention, these costs would be even higher. Our compensation costs, which are approximately $700 million annually, would be at least $500 million higher if we had not succeeded in improving our safety record since the early 1980s. Thus, it amounts to a 70% increase avoided