Canadian Underwriter

Ontario Liberals eye auto insurance rates and towing sector

May 13, 2022   by Philip Porado

Queen's Park, home of Ontario's provincial legislature.

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Ontario Liberals want to bring down auto insurance rates but not via percentage targets, as envisioned by the New Democrats.

“We will also work tirelessly to bring down auto insurance rates,” said Ontario Liberal Party press secretary Andrea Ernesaks. She noted that will include “creating a neutral independent assessor [and] modernizing ‘territory ratings’ for accuracy and fairness.”

Plus, she said, the party is looking at “improving provincial oversight over the towing sector.”

Complaints about inconsistent regulation of Ontario towers, which largely operate under a patchwork of municipal regulations, have grown louder in recent years.

One response by the governing Progressive Conservatives was an early 2021 updating of towing services guidelines by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), aimed at providing clear direction to tow operators. Its Guidelines for providing towing services to the OPP in the GTA identified towing requests by type — i.e., consumer/owner-requested towing, and police-requested towing — and provide responsibilities when towing for the OPP.

As for lowering consumer’s car insurance, earlier this month Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath came out with proposals to lower auto insurance rates by 40% and investigate a ‘new system’ for auto insurance that could include a public or partially public system.

To do this, she vowed to end the practice of using different insurance rates based on customers’ postal codes (under which places like Brampton can see higher rates than other parts of the province).

She also supported a ban on auto insurance rate increases for 18 months “while an expert commission investigates and recommends a new system — a public or partially public system, or major reforms to the private system,” the Ontario NDP said in a press release.

During the provincial election campaign, Ontario’s Liberals have voiced concerns about the NDP’s lack of costing specifics.

“The NDP don’t have an auto insurance plan,” Ernesaks told Canadian Underwriter. “They have an auto insurance target, with no plan to achieve it. This target was drawn up on the back-of-the-napkin two weeks after the release of their uncosted platform.”

Other planks in the Ontario Liberals’ platform, like the ‘buck-a-ride’ transit program, could lower costs for car owners who use pay-as-you-drive insurance programs, by providing alternatives to getting behind the wheel.

The provincial Liberal platform also contains a pilot proposal for a four-day work week, which might appeal to an ‘in the office’ group like insurance brokers.

“At this point, we are open to testing various models to better understand the potential benefits of this approach,” Ernesaks said. “Any steps will be taken in close consultation with industry and labour groups.”

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