Rising Saskatchewan crime could impact insurance costs

Published: July 29, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Statistics Canada has published a report that shows crime in Saskatchewan is rife, with the highest crime severity index (CSI) score and crime rates in the country.

Through 2016, there were 11,746 criminal incidents in the province per 100,000 residents. For a sparsely populated region, the numbers are high, and are extremely high compared to the lowest CSI score. Quebec has just 3,247 per 100,000.

To compile its statistics, the CSI measurement uses crimes that have been reported by police. Homicides in Saskatchewan are increasing, with 10% more in 2016 compared to 2015. Fraud is the biggest problem, especially in the insurance sector, with a 37% year-on-year increase.

Insurance implications from increasing fraud could eventually impact consumers. More fraud could force Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) to increase premiums. Kurtis Reeder, senior director of personal lines for the provincial public provider, says increasing fraud causes concern:

“We do pay for crime related losses and crime does cost Canadian insurance companies millions of dollars each year in claims payments, which then filters down to the policyholders through premiums,” said Reeder. “But if we really put things into perspective for SGI Canada, we are much more concerned about severe weather than we are with theft and crime. The bulk of premium goes into that and the theft side of things is relatively minor in comparison.”   

During 2016, SGI says it dealt with 4,000 auto insurance claims that were directly related to crime. This was a significant 2,500 increase compared to 2012. Through last year, the insurance company also handled 450 home insurance claims that were made after thefts and break-ins. While the rising trends a concerning, Reeder cautions against panic.

“We are keeping an eye on things. We break down our claims losses by peril each year to determine if changes need to be made,” he said. “In the meantime, it is very important for customers to talk to their insurance broker to get sound advice and make sure all assets are covered. At SGI Canada, we provide a discounted home insurance premium if the customer has monitored security systems in place. Brokers should be relaying that sort of information to clients because in some cases it could really subsidize the cost of having those devices.

“Customers should also speak to their insurance brokers about other types of risk mitigation. With auto crime, for example, it sometimes comes down to simple measures like not leaving your keys in your vehicle, always locking your vehicle doors and keeping valuables out of sight. These things may seem simple, but they are a really significant factor behind auto crime.”