Canadian Underwriter

Making auto reform happen

May 16, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Insurance reform is long overdue, says the head of a medical evaluation company.

Don Kunkel, president of Ontario-based AssessMed, which operates in eight provinces, says previous efforts to reform auto insurance have produced results that have been less than desired. Consumers have been left with a system that is more complex to navigate and premiums that are more expensive.

That’s why he backs Aviva president and chief executive officer Colm Homes’ recent opinion piece in the Globe & Mail, which called for an overhaul of auto insurance regulations in Ontario and industry stakeholders to work together to improve the system.

There’s an opportunity here, Kunkel says. The Progressive Conservative government is looking for ways to put money back in the pockets of taxpayers and reform can bring relief without hurting provincial coffers.

“Previously, industry has been slow to change how insurance is marketed and delivered to the consumer, while often also seeking some relief from government. The requested relief, usually provided, often treated only a part of the industry, not all aspects of it,” Kunkel says.

Consumers haven’t seen any relief when it comes to premium reductions or attempts at boosting innovation.

“It’s time for us to change this pattern,” Kunkel says. “The industry can thrive if we find a way to collaborate and to implement innovative service delivery upgrades.”

He makes a number of recommendations. First, allow for fair competition among insurers that isn’t bogged down by pesky restrictive regulations.

“Implement a ‘People’s Policy’ – a mandatory base policy to be offered at a set fee and give insurers scope to offer different policies and coverages at fair market values to keep premiums in check,” Kunkel says.

There should be someone at the Financial Services Regulatory Authority whose sole focus is overseeing the industry, potentially a superintendent of auto insurance. “It’s also important the mix of sector experience amongst FSRA staff reflects experience with several or all stakeholders within this sector,” Kunkel adds.

He wants to see information sharing between insurers made mandatory to detect fraud, investigation and suppression. Rules for data sharing can be made by the provincial government’s Serious Fraud Office.

Kunkel also calls for regulatory revisions of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule Section 42 “Insurers Examination” as a medical disability test to determine ongoing benefit entitlement.

“Any party should be able to request an assessment, but they shouldn’t also choose who performs the assessment,” he says, adding that the technology exists to make such assessments independent and less adversarial. “Effectively redefining the way in which plaintiffs or insurers can interact with assessing medical professionals will help to eliminate bias, duress and implied expectations based on fees being paid.”

As with any service, the focus should always remain with the customer, Kunkel notes.

“Too often, the consumer has been nothing more than a pawn in a vicious game,” he said.

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2 Comments » for Making auto reform happen
  1. Shawn says:

    If the government really wants to keep insurance costs down, they should regulate the predatory practices of these towing companies. They are quick to cap insurance rate increases, but don’t seem to be willing to address the underlying costs – these daily storage fees are extortion, pure and simple – they should be capped at a daily rate of at most $25/day – which is still more than it costs to store a vehicle in a heated, underground parking garage in most major cities in Canada, when all they are doing is putting it in a field with a chain-link fence around it.

    Instead, these places go to an accident scene under the disguise of helping – tow the vehicle to a storage yard where they then hold the vehicle hostage to extort exorbitant fees from the insurance company – which they then have to pass on to the customer as increased rates.

  2. Philip ED Nicholson says:

    Here’s one in which they all participate:
    In Mar 2020, I was issued a new VISA card.
    The end of year auto-renewal therefore did not go through. In all fairness, they sent me an email but I was I was working in a Covid long term care facility, I did not come home prepared to start admin matters. I tried several tele-comms but I was working without cell, we missed each-other. I have several emails asking for re-instatement.
    Regardless, as the day came and went, my insurance was cancelled due to “non-payment.” No probs I thought, I will re-instate next week.

    Here’s the kicker: The insurance company racket now terms you as never had having insurance before – aka new driver. So despite forty years of having insurance, I now have to start all over. My insurance now cost me double what it would have six weeks ago. Was I negligent? Yes. Is this punitive and predatory, ABSOLUTELY!!!

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