‘I can barely make ends meet:’ Teaching Canadians how to drive is a costly business

Imran Mubarik, a Cambridge-based driving instructor, loves what he does but is finding it harder to make ends meet. After one insurance policy was dropped he was left scrambling to find an affordable plan. He couldn’t. Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

After working 14 years in the retail industry, Imran Mubarik, who lives in Cambridge decided he needed a change.

“I always loved teaching people and I feel as though I’m a good driver, so I decided to go to driver’s training school to do what I love and earn some money.”

He paid nearly $4,000 in tuition to earn his certificate to become a driving instructor and was hired at a school headquartered in Brampton which offered a discounted driving instructor group insurance rate. He paid $5,000 to be insured for six months.

“Then, one month in, we were notified that the insurance provider was canceling our group plan.”

Mubarik, and several of his colleagues, were given refunds but left stuck trying to find their own insurance.

“We have to get special insurance as instructors, and we were all scrambling to find a provider that offered affordable plans.”

Because he is new, the lowest rate he could find was $900 per month.

“That’s outrageous,” He told CityNews. “We’re offering an essential service, teaching young people and newly arrived immigrants how to drive safely but the insurance industry sees us as high risk.”

Mubarik makes around $2,400 in a good month. Add $700 in gas and the $900 insurance payment and there’s little left to live on.

“It’s stressful but this is the way it goes for new instructors. After three years of doing this, my rate should go down a bit but with startup costs being so high, there’s no incentive for people to get into this business and we’re badly needed,” he said.

Mubarik and other drivers believe the government should step in to pressure the insurance industry to lower rates. He said the current plans offered don’t only drive people out of the business, they open the door for illegal operations.

“There are so many people in Ontario who spend $400 dollars to put a second brake in the passenger seat, slap a sticker on their car and operate underground,” Mubarik shared. “They’re not paying the extra insurance. It’s illegal, unregulated, and dangerous.”

Speakers Corner brought Mubarik’s concerns to the Ontario Ministry of Finance. A spokesperson told us to reach out to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), which is an independent agency that oversees a variety of plans offered to consumers, including auto insurance.

“As the auto insurance regulator, FSRA is responsible for reviewing rate filings from insurance companies,” the FDRA spokesperson told CityNews. We asked about the high rates facing driving instructors, but the FSRA said plans in place have already been looked at.

“Insurers are required to seek approval to change their rates,” the spokesperson explained. “When FSRA receives proposed changes, we review the filings in detail using a rigorous process and a regulatory framework. In each case, FSRA’s role is to ensure that the proposed rates reflect the associated risk.”

Mubarik understands, as a new instructor, he may be a higher risk but argues the current plans offered should be revisited. “It’s a big mess in this industry and somebody needs to look into it and sort it out.”

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