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Big Changes to Auto Claims announced in Ontario's 2019 budget
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Big Changes to Auto Claims announced in Ontario's 2019 budget

April 11, 2019 - in Car Accident

For anyone who is not currently geeked out staring at the computer monitor……. 

“Lowering Costs and Fighting Fraud

The government made a commitment to work for families and to respect their hard-earned dollars. Auto insurance should be affordable, easy to understand and easy to buy. The blueprint focuses on lowering costs, finding efficiencies and fighting fraud to ensure that drivers’ auto insurance premiums pay for the health care services they need after an accident, rather than for costly and unnecessary disputes. 

The government will work with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), a new, independent financial regulator, to: 

Overhaul the licensing system for health service providers to reduce regulatory burden and fraud, including lowering the treatment fees charged by providers; and

Reform the flawed medical assessment process to bring credibility and accountability to the assessments that injured claimants must undergo after an accident.

The government will also work with the Law Society of Ontario to make contingency fee agreements more transparent for injured claimants who choose to hire a lawyer. As part of this work, the Province will evaluate the effectiveness of the current contingency fee arrangements to ensure consumers are being fully protected. 

Insurance fraud is estimated to cost Ontario consumers billions of dollars each year. The government’s Putting Drivers First blueprint will focus on combatting fraud so that honest drivers do not have to pay for the dishonest actions of fraudsters. The government will work with FSRA and the newly established Serious Fraud Office to develop a fraud reduction strategy and modernize the systems that improve the delivery of health care benefits, including: 

Strong anti-fraud measures, such as enhanced data analytics to detect fraud, and new rules on unfair or deceptive acts or practices; and

A modern online claims process that lets consumers see how their auto accident benefits are being used, to make the claims process more convenient and help detect and discourage fraud.

When can drivers expect to see changes? 

The Putting Drivers First blueprint is a transformational, multi-year strategy. The government recognizes that consumers need change to happen now and is taking early action to make the consumer insurance experience easier and more convenient. These changes include: 

Facilitating electronic communications through proposed amendments to the Insurance Act and the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, making it fast and simple to do business with insurance companies;

Bringing the convenience of electronic proof of auto insurance to Ontario drivers;

Enabling innovation and new business models to give drivers more options, such as car subscription services that include insurance; and

Making it easier for insurance companies to offer more discounts and options to consumers.

Increasing Accessibility and Affordability

Ontario’s drivers should have more choice when deciding which auto insurance coverage suits their needs. They also deserve to have the same convenience that they have come to expect from modern financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. 

The government’s Putting Drivers First blueprint will give auto insurance companies the flexibility to offer drivers more choices in terms of discounts and coverage options to make their insurance policy more affordable. For example, drivers should have the choice to lower their premiums by allowing insurers to consider their credit history, or by agreeing to use preferred providers of auto repair or health care services

To make the consumer insurance experience simpler, the government is introducing legislation that, if passed, would allow insurance companies to use electronic communications and electronic commerce to do business with their customers. Ontario drivers will soon be able to use an electronic proof of auto insurance, allowing them to benefit from the same ease and convenience already offered in many other North American jurisdictions. Auto insurance forms, policies and other related documents will also be simplified so that drivers will find it easier to understand the coverage they need and make informed decisions about what they are buying. 

Adopting the Driver Care Plan

People hurt in auto collisions are too often not receiving timely access to care, and they find it difficult to navigate the claims process and understand the benefits available to them. They can take longer than they should to recover from their injuries because of disputes over benefits and appropriate treatment. The government is putting drivers first by focusing on care for people injured in collisions and making sure that they can access treatment faster. 

The Driver Care Plan will ensure that injured claimants receive quick access to treatment and care. The Plan will include: 

A Driver Care Card, which will streamline access to care by providing important information that will make the claim process easier to navigate;

A “Care, Not Cash” default clause to ensure that a driver’s auto insurance coverage will pay for treatment instead of costly legal fees while giving the driver the option to be eligible to receive cash settlements if they so choose;

An improved early treatment system for common injuries, including mental health treatment; and

A return to the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident, after it was previously reduced to $1 million in 2016.

Increasing Competition

A competitive auto insurance market benefits consumers. Making Ontario open for business is one of the government’s key commitments. Ensuring that businesses can compete while encouraging new companies to enter Ontario’s auto insurance marketplace is a key element of the government’s blueprint for the province’s auto insurance system. The government will encourage innovation and reduce the regulatory burden, enabling insurance companies to better serve their customers and invest in Ontario. 

The government is working with FSRA to achieve these innovation and modernization goals by: 

Supporting innovative business models, pricing structures and technologies, such as pay-as-you-go insurance;

Reducing the regulatory burden by improving the way auto insurance rates are regulated;

Reviewing guidelines, bulletins and forms to remove the burden and simplify processes;

Eliminating red tape by repealing outdated and ineffective legislation and simplifying regulations such as the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule; and

Working with the Civil Rules Committee to increase the monetary limit for simplified procedures, and reduce the costly and time-consuming use of civil juries for simplified procedure trials.

The Putting Drivers First blueprint will address key issues identified in David Marshall’s 2017 report on Ontario’s auto insurance system. It will improve choice and convenience for consumers and give them more control over their auto insurance rates and coverage. It will also combat fraud and increase competition, resulting in lower system costs to ensure that Ontario families' hard-earned dollars pay for the care accident victims need, when they need it. 

Ending postal code discrimination in auto insurance 

Under the leadership of the Member of Provincial Parliament for Milton, Mr. Parm Gill, the Ending Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Act, 2018 was introduced. If passed, this proposed legislation would end the unfair practice of discriminating against drivers based on where they live.

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