June 4, 2018 by Greg Meckbach
Polls show the Ontario Liberals will not likely govern the province after the election this Thursday but, for what it’s worth, a vote for Liberal candidates is a vote for insurance discounts for motorists who use apps intended to discourage distracted driving.
The Liberal party promises that, if re-elected, they would “mandate that insurers offer a discount to drivers who install anti-distracted driving apps on their phones,” a party spokesperson told Canadian Underwriter.
With only 14 per cent public support, the governing Liberals trail in the polls far behind the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives, which are currently running in a dead heat prior to the provincial election on June 7. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne took the unusual step last weekend of conceding publicly that she will not be the province’s next premier, encouraging voters to cast their ballots for Liberal candidates to ensure accountability in a minority government scenario.
No insurers have actually asked the Financial Services Commission of Ontario for permission to use anti-distracted driving apps as a rating factor, a FSCO spokesman told Canadian Underwriter May 31. Auto insurers may use as rating factors things that reduce claims costs, the FSCO spokesperson said, adding that “technology to prevent distracted-driving is still relatively new.”
Canadian Underwriter asked a Liberal party spokesperson how such a technology would work and why the Liberals did not impose this in the past. As of June 1, there had been no reply.
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) announced this past month it is currently conducting a trial involving 139 motorists that will block the use of handheld devices while driving. With these devices, a telematics box “triggers” an app on the motorist’s phone so that he or she cannot use it while driving – except to make emergency 911 calls.
The Liberals have been in power since 2003. In 2016, they passed a law mandating discounts on auto insurance for motorists with winter tires. The same year, they prohibited insurers from using certain at-fault accidents as rating criteria. Ontario auto insurers are also prohibited from using credit scores as rating factors. They may use territory, a rating factor that both the Liberals and NDP seek to abolish. The PCs at one time promised to abolish territory-based ratings but that was before Doug Ford became party leader this past March. Ford has not publicly stated whether or not he would keep territory-based ratings.