Canadian Underwriter

Ontario PC leadership hopeful slams Liberals for delaying auto fraud office

February 21, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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Ontario PC leadership candidate Caroline Mulroney promises to do “more than just talk” about cracking down on insurance fraud if she becomes premier of Ontario this June.

Ontario Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced this past December the provincial government will establish a “serious fraud office” this year, which would be comprised of a team of prosecutors and investigators. One focus of that office would be auto insurance fraud, which Aviva Canada said earlier costs Canadians more than $2 billion a year.

Four years ago, the Liberals promised in their budget document for fiscal year 2014-15 that they would develop an office dedicated to investigating and prosecuting “serious fraud” including auto insurance.

Mulroney would “do more than just talk” about creating an office dedicated to fraud,  a spokesperson for Mulroney told Canadian Underwriter Tuesday, alluding to the fact that the Liberals initially promised nearly four years ago to create an anti-fraud office.

In a report released in 2012, the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force recommended that the province assign dedicated crown attorneys in large complex auto insurance fraud prosecutions. The Liberals’ proposal is somewhat different, in the sense that the “serious fraud office” would focus on more than just auto insurance fraud cases.

Two in three respondents to an Aviva Canada survey conducted this past October said they felt that “cracking down on fraud would reduce their current auto insurance premiums.”

If she becomes the next premier, Mulroney would “eliminate geographic discrimination” in auto insurance, consistent with the party platform announced last year before Patrick Brown stepped down as party leader. Interim PC leader Vic Fedeli told Canadian Underwriter earlier that if elected, the PCs would direct the Financial Services Commission of Ontario “to stop accepting postal codes as a factor in setting insurance rates.”

This party stance addresses concern about high rates that insurers charge to vehicle owners living in Brampton, Mississauga, and Vaughan.

Sousa announced the Fair Auto Insurance Plan on Dec. 5, 2017, which is based in part on recommendations made by a special advisor to Sousa, David Marshall. Among the changes the Liberals would implement are new “independent examination centres,” which would assess motor vehicle accident injuries. The proposal is intended to reduce spending on legal fees in disputes over claims, Colin Simpson, CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, told Canadian Underwriter earlier.

Canadian Underwriter contacted the campaign teams of Doug Ford, Christine Elliott and Tanya Granic Allen – all of whom are also running to replace Brown – but did not hear back as of Wednesday. Although the party leadership race was sparked by Brown’s resignation, Brown has also entered the race in the hopes of being voted back in as party leader. Ontario Progressive Conservative party members are scheduled to elect a new leader next month and a general election is scheduled for Ontario this June.