Abstract: Fighting the Crown Corporation: Automobile Insurance in Saskatchewan, 1945-1966

Heather Nelson


The creation of the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office and the Automobile Accident Insurance Act (AAIA) by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation government in the 1940s ended insurance industry-government relations in Saskatchewan. The AAIA introduced public compulsory automobile insurance for the first time. Controversial in its own right, the AAIA also limited private insurance industry participation in the Saskatchewan market. Insurance companies responded quietly by selling supplementary insurance. As the government limited industry participation by legislating increases in compulsory coverage the insurance industry was forced to aggressively compete with the government insurer to preserve its place in the Saskatchewan market. This conflict destroyed any remaining private link between the government and the insurance industry. The paper argues that the government decision to legislate itself into the insurance industry and the industry's aggressive challenge of government policy created a relationship premised on public dispute instead of the private negotiation of policy common in insurance industry-government relations elsewhere. By the 1960s, even a change of political leadership in the province could not heal the damage caused by twenty years of industry-government animosity.