Ontario's Fair Auto Insurance Plan
Ontario is taking action to make auto insurance more affordable for the province's almost 10 million drivers.
Since 2013, the government has introduced a number of reforms that have resulted in lower auto insurance rates. These include a mandatory discount for drivers who use winter tires, helping people resolve disputes about benefits faster and clarifying towing and storage costs after an accident. Average auto insurance rates are now 6.6 per cent lower than they were in 2013.
The government understands that rates are still too high for many people, and is moving forward with a package of significant structural reforms to the system.
The Fair Auto Insurance Plan is based on recommendations made by David Marshall, Ontario's advisor on auto insurance. In a report released in April 2017, he urged transformative changes aimed at improving the care received by people hurt in collisions, reducing disputes around diagnosis and treatment -- and promoting innovation, competition and other steps to improve consumer protection.
Following consultations on Mr. Marshall's proposals, Ontario is now implementing the following initiatives:
Standard Treatment Plans
Making sure people with the most common collision injuries receive timely, appropriate and effective treatment by developing and implementing standard treatment plans that focus on recovery, monitoring health outcomes and increasing awareness of the best treatment practices, including an increased emphasis on making sure victims receive the care they need. The first of these standard treatment plans will be developed by spring 2018. This is expected to reduce costs in the system by changing the emphasis from cash payouts to ensuring appropriate care for victims.
Independent Examination Centres
Creating independent examination centres to provide assessments of more serious auto collision injuries, to help resolve and reduce diagnosis disputes, and to reduce system costs and inefficiencies stemming from disputes. This will include developing standards for assessors, ensuring that the opinions of neutral assessments are respected.
Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
Establishing an integrated and dedicated office, with representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of the Attorney General, that will combat systemic fraud in Ontario and support activities to address auto insurance fraud.
Risk Factor Review
Drivers pay different premiums based on a number of factors, including where they happen to live. The province has directed the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to review risk factors insurers use to calculate drivers' insurance premiums, such as geographic territories, to ensure that people in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfairly high rates. This review is expected to be complete by spring 2018.
Working with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the province will ensure that people who need the services of lawyers and paralegals are protected and understand the agreements that they are signing, particularly those in vulnerable positions, such as accident victims.
To support clients entering into contingency fee agreements, the Law Society has approved the following changes that will, among other things:
- Introduce a mandatory standard contingency fee agreement
- Create a 'Know Your Rights' guide for the public, which contains information on consumer rights in relation to contingency fee agreements
- Require legal professionals to publicly disclose the maximum contingency fee percentage they charge by practice area; and
- Require lawyers and paralegals to report annually on their contingency fee practices.
Establishing a Strong, Independent Regulator
Modernizing the auto insurance rate approval process, reducing red tape and strengthening consumer protection through amendments to the Insurance Act. If passed, these amendments would provide the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario with rule-making authority, enabling it to promptly and effectively respond to insurance market trends, facilitating industry innovation to benefit consumers.
Establishing a panel of up to five experts to provide the government with guidance on enacting reforms contained in the Fair Auto Insurance Plan and to engage with drivers, insurers, health service providers and legal service providers.