Editor's Note: The following letter to the editor is in response to an article that appeared on Canadian Underwriter's website on Dec. 10, 2012: Ontario needs to crack down on independent medical examiners: Accident victims' group
It is unfortunate that “Fair Association of Victims for Accident Reform” (FAIR) is not living up to its name in its assessment of the independent medical examiner industry. This group demonstrates a poor understanding of the auto insurance industry when it smears high-quality independent medical examiners in Ontario with unfounded allegations.
Members of the Association of Independent Assessment Centres (AIAC) perform the bulk of the neutral third party assessments annually. We use the healthcare experts who are regionally-based across Ontario. The value of these independent assessments is directly proportionate to the independence and quality that courts and arbitrators attach to them. Further, IME companies undergo stringent quality assurance measures independently and by insurers to ensure they meet the highest standards and adhere to all regulations. All of our healthcare professionals are accountable to their respective regulatory colleges. A lot of our assessors are members of organizations like CSME, CSCE and CAPDA to name a few that aspire to high quality independent medical examinations. Bottom line; only by delivering high-quality assessments time and time again, do IME companies remain in business.
With respect to FAIR’s comments about not agreeing with the recommendation that claimants being fined $500 for failing to attend a medical exam, there needs to be a solution for “no shows” of claimants without a medical reason. There are some claimants that repeatedly do not show up for their scheduled IMEs, 3 or 4 times in a row. We realize that there are many reasons why some assessments do not take place. However, these no-shows or “late cancellations”, cost the system money and only delays proper adjudication of the injured claimants’ accident benefits.
We should all be working with the Ontario government to reduce auto insurance fraud, rather than pointing the finger at medical professionals who are part of the solution – not the problem. Independent medical examinations provide the necessary check and balance in the Auto Insurance system that Ontarians need to ensure that injured people, who need accident benefits, get them in a timely manner and the ones that don’t, are not supported or approved by these highly qualified healthcare professionals. We are paid to provide medical evidence and our opinion; whatever the outcome is. The Ontario Government has a challenge in balancing the needs of Ontario consumers between the injured claimants who need reasonable access to accident benefits and the ratepayers who need reasonable and affordable insurance premiums. So let’s not “throw anyone under the bus”, and let’s work together in finding practical solutions that are “fair” to everyone.
- Rocco Guerriero B.Sc., DC, FRCCSS(C), FCCPOR(C), FCCO(C)
President of the Association of Independent Assessment Centres (AIAC)