Dominion gets discount approved for “I Promise” program

1/18/2002 Dominion of Canada General Insurance has been successful
in its bid to have a discount approved by Ontario’s insurance regulator for teen drivers
in the “I Promise” Program.

Domion CEO George Cooke, a staunch supporter of the
program, had applied to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario for permission to
offer a discount to policyholders with teen drivers on their policies who are a part of
the safe driving program. Late last week approval was given for a discount equal to the
value of the program’s cost, to be taken off the bodily injury portion of a policy.

The program involves a safe driving contract signed between
teen drivers and their parents, and a decal placed in the car’s window, allowing other
drivers on the road to call and report unsafe driving incidents. Those reports will be
given directly to parents.

The program’s creator, Gary Direnfeld, says a call center
has already been established and all other pieces of the program are in place. Now,
forming partnerships with insurers will be the key to making the program a success.

Direnfeld found a supporter in Cooke more than a year ago,
and the Dominion CEO has promoted the program to other Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)
member companies. The FSCO approval is a “huge” step towards encouraging other
insurers to become involved, notes Direnfeld. “This is a coup. It paves the way for
all other insurers in the province of Ontario to make similar applications.”

The Co-operators has become involved as well, through a
local agent in the Grand Falls-Windsor area of Newfoundland. RCMP Community Policing
Officer Donna Ducey took the program to Gary King of G.C. King Insurance Agency Ltd., who
in turn convinced local Co-operators agencies to cover half the cost of the program, with
parents contributing the rest.

The program is also moving into the U.S., and the Lancaster
County Public Health Department, in South Carolina, is promoting the program as a public
safety vehicle to deal with its teen car crash rate, which is higher than the national
average, Direnfeld reports. They have purchased 100 registrations to distribute.

Direnfeld says that public response to the program has been
“outstanding”, and that since Dominion came on board the program, interest from
other insurers has soared. “In terms of the success of meeting our primary goal, to
reduce teen car crashes, this depends largely on participation by insurance
companies,” he says, adding that the program addresses the complementary goals of
parents and insurers in reducing accidents.

Given the soaring claims costs insurers are facing, the
program is one way to deal with the risks associated with auto insurance, he adds.
“And from a consumer’s point of view, rather than paying higher premiums, they would
much rather enter into partnerships that would see their kids safer and save insurance
companies money.”