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Saskatchewan Government Insurance sending out rebate cheques

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REGINA (CP) _ The rebate cheques will be in the mail by the end of May as Saskatchewan Government Insurance's auto fund returns a portion of its $60 million surplus from last year, Glenn Hagel, minister in charge of the Crown corporation, said Thursday.

A one-time eight per cent rebate is being calculated on owners' 2005 vehicle insurance premiums. The average cheque will be $87.

All vehicles, both privately and commercially owned, are eligible for the rebate, including snowmobiles and trailers.

The eight per cent will be applied before Safe Driver or Business Recognition discounts are calculated, said Hagel. About 520,000 customers will be getting the rebates.

The auto fund will also stay at current rates for the sixth year in a row, said Hagel.

Fewer collisions were mentioned first by Hagel when explaining why the rebate is possible.

``Most Saskatchewan motorists are safe drivers and safe drivers mean fewer collisions,'' he explained.

``Fewer collisions combined with increased investment earnings and sound fiscal management have all contributed (to) the 2005 auto fund experience.''

Good weather also likely contributed to the profitability of the auto fund, said Hagel.

But Dan D'autremont, the Saskatchewan Party's critic of SGI, said a rise in stock market returns is the biggest reason SGI can hand out rebates.

``It's a political exercise as much as a means of returning the money to the vehicle owners,'' he suggested.

``Do they expect drivers in Saskatchewan are going to be eight per cent worse next year? If they're doing such a good job of managing, if their safety programs are doing such a good job, shouldn't this be an ongoing reduction?''

Hagel countered that a cut in rates might lead customers to grow accustomed to a lower rate that may not continue beyond this year.

``This has been a special year and that has enabled us to be in this one-time position. We can't predict with absolute certainty that this will continue,'' said Hagel.

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Saskatchewan Government Insurance sending out rebate cheques
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