April 23, 2019 by Greg Meckbach
The Ontario government wants to make the auto claims process easier to navigate and less cumbersome, a politician who used to be a broker told the legislature last week.
“Today when someone has an accident, they are assigned an adjuster,” Nina Tangri, Conservative MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville, said Apr. 18 during debate on an NDP private member’s bill that was intended to reduce auto insurance rates. “That adjuster helps them navigate the system to get the care they need, to get the vehicle fixed, and it can sometimes be a lengthy, cumbersome process, especially if you were hurt in an accident.”
Before she was elected to office this past June, Tangri was CEO of Tangri Insurance & Financial Group and President of Tangri-BMT Insurance Brokers, whose products include auto insurance.
The Ontario government polled consumers in January and February on auto insurance, receiving more than 50,000 responses.
‘What we found was that Ontarians believed that insurance policies are too difficult to understand and that they couldn’t tailor the policy to fit their specific needs,” Tangri said this past Thursday. “In my past life, not too long ago, I was an insurance broker, so I understood this completely when trying to educate our clients on what coverages they have and what options they have to increase their benefits, whether to take collision or not to take collision, and what the implications are. It is a very difficult policy to understand.”
In its budget tabled in March, the government promised to implement a driver care card that would provide important information to make the claim easier to navigate.
“The driver care card will really help those people navigate the system, to be able to go to a provider very quickly and, hopefully, get better faster,” said Tangri.
She made her comments during second reading of Bill 90, the Lower Automobile Insurance Rates Act, tabled by Humber River-Black Creek MPP Tom Rakocevic, who is with the opposition New Democratic Party.
If passed into law, Bill 90 would set a 7% ceiling on an insurer’s return on equity for the purpose of determining auto rate change approvals.
“We were elected on a promise to ensure that insurance rates are affordable and sustainable for Ontarians, and that’s what we are committed to do, but blatantly attacking businesses is not the way to do it,” Tangri said of Bill 90.
Bill 90 proposes to require an auto insurer to break down its auto premiums and claims by postal code, and to provide a detailed breakdown of its corporate overhead costs, salaries and legal, marketing and customer retention expenses, including commissions paid out.
In response, Conservative JPP Doug Downey criticized the Liberals (who ruled from 2003 through 2018) for reducing accident benefits coverage in an attempt to reduce costs. “They weren’t dealing with the structural challenges in auto insurance,” said Downey, the MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte and parliamentary assistant to the finance minister. “We’ve taken a more holistic approach. We’ve taken a broader approach to it to take costs out of the system.”
The Conservatives recently announced they are proposing to increase the range of auto insurance coverage choices, which would let clients reduce their premiums, and to consult with the industry on how to make this happen.
Downey said of the respondents to the consumer survey conducted by the government during the winter, more than half (55%) said it was too difficult to tailor their auto insurance policy to meet their needs and also more than half (54%) said insurance policies are complicated and difficult to understand.
“I’m actually surprised that that’s so low, at 54%, because they are difficult to understand,” said Downey.