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NB auto insurance rate survey error

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FREDERICTON (CP) _ The provincial Liberal Party has issued a correction about a survey it commissioned that claims New Brunswickers pay an average of $1,800 dollars for auto insurance.

The party says the polling firm made a coding error, and that the survey actually shows the average annual amount to be $1,128.

In a Thursday news release, the party says that Corporate Research Associates, the firm that completed the survey, accepts ``complete responsibility for the error and regrets any embarrassment or confusion that may have resulted.''

The Opposition party said it places great emphasis on the accuracy of the information that it provides New Brunswickers, which is why it has rapidly issued the correction.

However, the correction confirmed the suspicions of Bruce Fitch, the province's justice minister, who had said Wednesday that he doubted the survey results were correct.

Fitch had stated the New Brunswick Insurance Board's estimate that the average auto insurance cost was $851 a year was more complete and accurate.

The survey, done for the New Brunswick Liberal Party by Corporate Research Associates, polled 255 people between Feb. 17 and March 2.

It's considered accurate plus or minus 6.2 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

The polling firm issued a release saying it regrets the error caused by the inclusion of ``don't know'' responses in the average cost calculation.

``This category is traditionally coded as 9998, and was inadvertently included in calculating the average expected expenditures on auto insurance, causing the error,'' said the release.

Spiking costs for automobile coverage made New Brunswickers so angry it became a major issue in the 2003 provincial election campaign.

In response to the outcry, the Conservative government imposed reforms including a basic no-fault policy, lower rates for first-time drivers, and a $2,500 cap on claims for minor bodily injuries.

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NB auto insurance rate survey error
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