The province announced today, Jan. 30, new regulatory guidelines to streamline the review process for insurance companies aiming to decrease automobile insurance rates. The guidelines specify a 20-day timeline for the Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board to evaluate basic applications for rate decreases. “We have a good system in Nova Scotia for regulating auto insurance rates. Rates have come down, and we want that trend to continue,” said Michael Baker, Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. “The new guidelines will promote timely processing and implementation of lower insurance rates.” The guidelines clarify section 155(B) of the Insurance Act that provides an expedited process for insurance companies filing applications to decrease rates for commercial and private passenger auto insurance. The guidelines do not affect separate sections of the act dealing with rate increases or other complex filings. The guidelines also set an implementation deadline for insurance companies, so that rate decreases become effective no later than 45 days from date of filing. In 2006, the board received 42 applications from insurance companies proposing rate changes for commercial and private passenger auto insurance. Several companies are implementing rate reductions this month. Mr. Baker said he expects to see more rate reduction applications in the coming months, as companies react to lower rates of their competitors. “A timely process will help companies apply for rate decreases. I think the industry recognizes the need to reduce rates when they are in a position to do so.” The board will start immediately to incorporate the new guidelines. As of Sept. 1, 2006, Nova Scotians paid average rates of $822 for auto insurance compared to $1,048 in August 2003, before the province introduced a series of reforms to the insurance industry.