In April 2017, Ontario’s advisor on auto insurance David Marshall has released his report Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered (A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario). In this report, he urges to improve care for people injured in motor vehicle accidents (MVA) and to reduce disputes around diagnosis and treatments.
In December 2017, the Government of Ontario introduced the Fair Auto Insurance Plan to address issues raised by David Marshall in his report.
In the Making Auto Insurance More Affordable news release, it says that the overall goal is “to make auto insurance more affordable for the province’s nearly 10 million drivers by introducing the Fair Auto Insurance Plan.”
Ontario Fair Auto Insurance Plan: The Key Points
- Implementing Standard Treatment Plans for Minor Injury Guideline (MIG) – common collision injuries, such as sprains, strains and whiplash to help people receive the treatment they need after an accident, changing the emphasis from cash payouts to ensuring appropriate care for victims. 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.
- Reducing diagnosis and treatment disputes between insurance companies and MVA patients by implementing Independent Examination Centres to assess more serious auto collision injuries. This will include developing standards for assessors, and ensuring that the opinions of neutral assessments are respected.
- Cracking down on fraud by launching a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) with representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of the Attorney General by the spring of 2018. The main agenda of the office will be will combating systemic fraud in Ontario and supporting activities to address auto insurance fraud.
- Directing FSCO to review risk factors used by insurers to calculate premiums. The goal is to ensure that drivers in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfairly high rates.
- Ensuring that lawyers’ contingency fees are fair, reasonable and more transparent. The Law Society has approved an introduction of a mandatory standard contingency fee agreement.
According to The Globe and Mail, the Fair Auto Insurance Plan announcement was short on key details, such as who will pay for assessments and who will run the examination centres. Later, the Ministry of Finance confirmed that the insurance companies will be obligated to pay for legitimate assessments.
Ever since its announcement, the Fair Auto Insurance Plan caused a wave of heated discussions. While the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) expressed their support and eagerness “to work with the Government as its proposed auto insurance changes are implemented,” some healthcare providers and lawyers raised concerns that the plan will hurt those who need help the most.
One of Ontario’s lawyers called the Standard Treatment Plan a “cookie-cutter approach to the delivery of medical services.” Another law firm believes that history is repeating itself, finding resemblance between Independent Examination Centres and Designated Assessment Centres (DACs), created back in 1994 and later eliminated.
According to FSCO, “DACs were authorized to conduct independent assessments that are designed to balance the interests of both insurance companies and claimants. Insurers are required to initiate and pay for the cost of the assessment, and the claimant is required to cooperate in the assessment process.” In 2005, Dalton McGuinty, a former Premier of Ontario, called DACs “a costly relic of the NDP’s failed auto insurance reforms.”
As always, we will keep you updated on our blog once more information becomes available.