Thursday, 7 November 2013

Auto Insurance Section of the 2013 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review

The governments Fall Economic Statement included a section on auto insurance but did not include any new initiatives.   Instead, the government provided an update on current initiatives.

With respect to the government strategy to reduce Ontario auto insurance rates by 15 per cent on average within the next two years, the government gave FSCO the authority to require insurers to re-file new rates for FSCO approval. The government reports that insurers have started to file new rates with FSCO as a result of this new authority. The government also made the Superintendent of FSCO’s guidelines binding to help reduce unexpected costs.

The government expects that the January 2014 report on approved rates from FSCO will provide the first evidence that its strategy to reduce costs and rates is working.

Transforming the auto insurance dispute resolution system is another key element of the government’s cost and rate reduction strategy. The Province appointed former Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, the Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, to lead a review and make recommendations on how to make this a more efficient and effective system.  Stakeholder consultations on the recommended legislative direction will be held in the coming months in preparation for the final report.

The government also committed to protecting consumers by continuing to ensure that insurer rate filings include rates that reward safe drivers and by helping to ensure that all regions of Ontario benefit fairly from cost savings.

The Ontario government is also continuing to crack down on auto insurance fraud to further benefit consumers. The government has already taken a number of actions to address key recommendations made by the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force, such as a framework for licensing health clinics in the auto insurance system, and expanding the regulator’s investigation and enforcement authority.

FSCO has launched an Anti-Fraud Hotline will allow the public to play a greater role in combating fraud. Ontario has also added important information to the Ministry of Transportation’s Driver’s Handbook to help new drivers understand and prevent auto insurance fraud.

The government is also actively working to develop a province-wide system to oversee the towing industry. In the winter of 2014, the government will work closely with the sector, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the City of Toronto and other key stakeholders on the development of a proposed model. As part of this work, the government will also look at the issues of vehicle storage and collision repair practices.

In addition, the insurance industry is working to fight fraud. It recently announced the creation of Canadian National Insurance Crime Services (CANATICS), a new not-for-profit organization that will use data analytics to identify suspicious claims. The Task Force supported the use of data analytics to combat auto insurance fraud and recommended the creation of such an organization in its final report.

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