May 16, 2019 by Adam Malik
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.