On Tuesday December 5 2017, Ontario’s Minister of Finance with the Attorney General announced their Fair Auto Insurance Plan. These reforms were recommended by David Marshall, whom back in April of 2017 released a report, urging that transformative changes need to be made.
Regardless of Ontario having the lowest collision rate in the country, we are paying the highest premiums. The Ontario government has indicated they intend to remedy this and achieve the following objectives with the Ontario’s Fair Auto Insurance Plan which is composed of thirty-five measures. Here are 7 highlights:
- Standard Treatment Plans for common collision injuries to standardize treatment and shift the emphasis from cash payouts to treatment costs.
- Independent Examination Centers will be instituted to attempt to provide credible, neutral assessment. The object is to prevent predetermined result, ghost writing and delays caused by diagnosis and treatment disputes between insurance companies and people injured in collisions.
- Launching Ontario’s first Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to combat systemic fraud. This office will be composed of representatives from the OPP and Ministry of the AG.
- Financial Services Commission of Ontario will conduct a review of risk factors to ensure drivers are not subject to unfairly high premium rates.
- Giving Financial Services Regulatory of Ontario greater teeth by allowing them rule making authority. This can only be through amendments to the Insurance Act, which the Minister of Finance confirmed has already been tabled.
- In collaboration with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the government wants contingency fees that are reasonable and transparent so victims know ahead what they will be paying. The LSUC has approved the following, among others:
- Mandatory standard contingency fee agreement
- Legal professionals are required to publically disclose the maximum contingency fee percent they charge
- Lawyers and paralegals are required to annually report on their contingency practises.
- A panel of up to five experts will be established to provide the government with guidance on reforms and engage with drivers, insurers, heath and legal service providers.
The Minister of Finance assures that the cost of implementation is not an issue. Many of the reforms can begin right away, however we will need to wait until Spring 2018 for the standard treatment plans to be developed, the Fraud office to be up and running, and the Financial Service Commission of Ontario to complete their review of risk factors.