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Ontario Tories schedule auto insurance round table in Brampton


May 10, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party plans to hold a round table on auto insurance May 13 in Brampton, with the intent of discussing the party’s proposals to reform policy.

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When the minority Liberal government released its budget May 2, it said it would aim to reduce average auto premiums in the province by 15%, and the timeline would be “prescribed by regulation.”

But the PC Party contends in a backgrounder that “excessive government rules and reviews” are slowing the process by which auto insurers set rates, so the party plans to adopt what it calls a “file-and-use” system that would eliminate government reviews.

This and other PC proposals are on the agenda at the round table May 13, which is scheduled at 7:00 p.m. in Room 2 of the Terry Miller Recreation Centre at 1295 Williams Parkway in Brampton, Ont. 

The PC party asks those who plan to attend the May 13 round table to RSVP to William Ross, legislative assistant for PC deputy critic for finance (auto insurance reform) Jeff Yurek, at wross.hba2011@gmail.com

The venue, about 10 kilometres northwest of Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, is in the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, which is currently represented in the Legislature by NDP Consumer Affairs critic Jagmeet Singh.

Singh tabled in March a motion that called for Premier Kathleen Wynne to direct the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to gradually reduce average, industry-wide private passenger auto premiums by 15%. At the time, Singh claimed that the auto industry in Ontario “has enjoyed some of the highest profits in the history of Ontario,” that the reforms implemented in 2010 resulted in $2 billion in savings and that it was unacceptable for premiums to rise by 5%.

(For its part, the Insurance Bureau of Canada noted earlier that in 2010, carriers lost a combined total of about $1.7 billion on Ontario auto, and made a profit of $233.2 million on written premiums of $10.3 billion in Ontario auto in 2011).

When Singh tabled his motion in the legislature in March, Yurek argued that the NDP had only “identified a symptom” but not an actual policy.

“I know that wishing prices were lower doesn’t accomplish anything,” Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, said at the time in response to Singh’s motion. “There’s nothing more than a bumper sticker policy that lacks any real substance.”

Yurek is scheduled to attend the May 13 roundtable, along with Harjit Jaswal, who the PC party has nominated to run in Bramalea-Gore-Malton in the next provincial election. Also scheduled to attend are three PC party nominees for neighbouring ridings: Pam Hundal, the nominee for Brampton -Springdale (currently represented by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey); Amarjeet Gill, the PC nominee for Mississauga-Brampton South (currently represented by Liberal MPP Amrit Mangat ); and Randeep Sandu, the PC nominee for Brampton West (currently represented by Liberal MPP Vic Dhillon).

The PC Party says it would make several changes on top of eliminating the rate reviews. It would change the dispute resolution process by ending the requirement to send disputed claims to government mediators, require chief executive officers of insurance carriers to personally sign off on any rate filing or discount offering and establish a special unit in the Crown Attorney’s office to investigate fraud.

For its part, the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force recommended, in its final report last year, that the province ensure early assignment and continuity of crown attorneys in large complex auto insurance fraud prosecutions. Finance Mininster Charles Sousa has pledged to implement the measures recommended by the task force, which also include giving FSCO the power to regulate health clinics and treat and assess vehicle collision injuries.

The task force also recommended a province-wide licensing scheme for the towing industry and having carriers collect information about towing expenses so they can analyze relationships between tow operators, collision repair facilities and clinics.

Other recommendations included:

  • Legislative protection prohibiting reprisal or retribution against individuals who, in good faith, provide information about suspected fraud;
  • Requiring claimants to confirm attendance at treatment facilities and receipt of goods and services billed to insurers; and
  • Requiring insurers to itemize the list of invoices they have received when they provide a benefit statement to a claimant every two months.

The PC Party’s ideas include using the Health Claims for Auto Insurance (HCAI) system to “help identify abnormal billing patterns.”