By Anna Smith
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Large hikes to insurance rates for bus contractors have caused concern for many, the Prairie Rose Public Schools’ treasurer says there is no concern about losing any current bus routes.
“It’s definitely a problem that is an issue, that we have concerns about going forward. I mean, the increases that our bus contractors are seeing, and especially our smaller mom and pop operation, bus contractors are significant,” said Secretary Treasurer Ryan Boser. “In some instances, it’s going to increase their costs quite a bit where our worry, of course, is that it makes bus contractors not want to stay in operations. Obviously, we have a job to get kids to school everyday, and so that’s what our focus is going to be, to advocate to the government with regards to the insurance increases.”
Prairie Rose works with both larger transportation companies such as Southland Transportation and with smaller contractors, who will feel the impact of these changes the worst and are at higher risk of not being able to afford operations.
“We’re going to do what we can to help our contractors ease these insurance increases in what they’re seeing in the market,” said Boser. “So it’s definitely something that we’re focused on, and, again, we’re wanting to work with our contractors to try to try to ease this and ultimately advocate to the government to, you know, see if there’s some solutions that they can come up with that will help.”
Prairie Rose is a part of an insurance consortium that works to ensure options for all the contractors the division relies on, said Boser.
“We are in constant communication with them, to see how the insurance costs are increasing for them, and how that’s gonna look for them operationally into the future. And as well, the work that our insurance consortium has done has been great, ensuring that there are insurance options for our small contract bus operators,” said Boser. “At this point insurance is in place. So there’s no concern with regards to getting our kids to and from schools every day. And obviously we’re going to continue to monitor that and ensure that continues to happen, as that’s a priority of ours. I would say that ultimately, at the end of the day, we will continue to focus on this, you know until things stabilize.”
Insurance for bus contractors is done one year at a time, said Boser, and there is already insurance in place for the 2021-2022 school year, and he feels confident that they will not have to resort to alternative arrangements to get children to school in the future.
It’s primarily a market issue, said Boser, that is causing the issues with insurance that Albertans are seeing across the board, but especially in regards to bussing.
“Insurance has been tough for everybody, we’re seeing increases in insurance across the board in Alberta, because of the market. When insurers are looking to write policies, they’re there, they’ve been losing money over the last number of years,” said Boser. “And so they’re choosing their writing policies in order to try and profit at the end of the day, they’ve indicated that some sectors, and in this instance it’s bus contractors have been ones that they’re not as willing to insure anymore. And so it’s been tougher for insurance brokers to go out and find these insurance companies that are willing to write insurance for contract bus operators because of higher risk or because of previous claims, those types of things. It really is a market issue that is impacting them right now, and it’s very unfortunate. But it’s the way that the market is right now. Of course, hopefully, over time, that starts to stabilize, and they’re able to feel confident, again, in writing insurance for, for contract bus operators. So that’s the issue that we’re facing right now. Really, it has to do with confidence in the market place right now, where insurers are just less confident about writing policies to contract bus operators because like I said, past claims and the higher risk that comes along with transportation and those types of things. Obviously, we’re looking we’re looking for solutions, we always are and keeping kids on the bus to and from school on a continuous basis is obviously our number one priorities.”