Ukrainian refugees in NL hit with car insurance rates 5 times provincial average

Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion of their country and arrived in Newfoundland are being asked to pay thousands of dollars more for car insurance than the provincial average. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Ukrainians who fled the Russian invasion of their country and arrived in Newfoundland are being asked to pay thousands of dollars for car insurance, and advocates say the high rates are complicating refugees’ efforts to settle in the province.

The Canadian Press viewed two auto insurance quotes provided to Ukrainian refugees in St. John’s — one for $5,592 a year and another for $8,288 a year. Meanwhile, the average annual rate in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2020 was just over $1,200, according to the General Insurance Statistical Agency.

Adilya Dragan, a liaison for many of the 166 Ukrainian refugees who recently landed in the province, says the high rates are top of mind for many who’ve chosen to settle in the St. John’s area.

“It’s really a lot,” Dragan, originally from Russia, said in an interview Tuesday.

Most have landed jobs making between $15 and $20 an hour, which puts the high insurance rates completely out of reach, she added.

Newfoundland and Labrador led the country in bringing Ukrainians to Canada. The province set up an office in Warsaw in March to help those fleeing Russian attacks, and it was the first province to charter a plane carrying refugees to Canada. That flight landed May 9 in St. John’s.

Dragan said some Ukrainians — especially those who can’t speak English — have only been able to find jobs outside the downtown core. Others have found jobs in St. John’s but can’t find housing in the region’s tight rental market, she said.

The vacancy rate in St. John’s was 3.1 per cent in October 2021, down from 7.5 per

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