Canadian Underwriter

‘No indication’ of where Ontario premier hopeful Ford stands on auto insurance

March 20, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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With an Ontario election scheduled in three months, there is no telling what – if anything – a new government would do with the auto insurance file.

If the Ontario election were held today, the new premier could very well be Doug Ford, recently elected to lead the opposition Progressive Conservative party.

“There is no indication of where [Ford] might stand on auto insurance,” Willie Handler, principal of Willie Handler and Associates, said Monday in an interview. Handler is a former Ontario public servant who worked for 20 years on auto insurance regulation.

Ford, the older brother of the late former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was elected PC party leader March 10. Ford did not respond to an interview request from Canadian Underwriter.

Patrick Brown led the PCs until January. With Brown at the helm, the PCs promised that if elected to power, they would direct the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to stop using postal codes as a rating factor. The PCs under Brown were concerned that vehicle owners in some cities – such as Brampton, Mississauga, and Vaughan – were paying higher rates than other residents.

But Ford “is basically tearing up the Patrick Brown platform and is putting together a new platform” Handler said. “It may not even include auto insurance.”

The Toronto Star reported earlier that in an online survey of Ontarians, 43% of decided voters said they would vote for the PC party while 27% would vote Liberal and 23% would vote NDP.

Handler would “not be surprised” if Ford “wants to do something” about the use of postal codes to determine auto insurance rates. This, Handler suggested, is because Ford is popular in some cities bordering Toronto.

In the 15 years since the Liberals replaced the PCs as Ontario’s ruling party, the Liberals have introduced several reforms. These include:

  • a $3,500 cap on minor injuries;
  • reducing mandatory accident benefits coverage (once in 2010 and again in 2016);
  • moving the dispute resolution system from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to the License Appeal Tribunal; and
  • changing the definition of catastrophic impairment.

Starting in 2013, the Liberals tried  unsuccessfully to reduce the average premium by 15%. The NDP demanded the 15% reduction as a condition to supporting the 2013-14 budget and allowing the Liberals to remain in power.

The NDP “have made a lot of noise about [Ontario auto insurers’] profits, so I would expect that if they were to actually form a government, they would want to see whether or not companies are making too much money,” Handler said. “I don’t know what ‘too much’ is. I don’t think they do either.”

In 2014, the NDP voted against the budget, resulting in an election that returned the Liberals to power with a majority.