Ontario taking further action to reduce auto insurance ratesTuesday, March 04, 2014 by: Kate Adams
Minister of Finance Charles Sousa
Ontario is taking the next step in its plan to help reduce auto insurance rates for consumers by introducing legislation today that would protect the province's nine million drivers and reduce costs and uncertainty in the auto insurance system.
As the next step in the Auto Insurance Cost and Rate Reduction Strategy, the government is introducing the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Insurance Rates Act to protect consumers and continue its crackdown on auto insurance fraud by:
- Transforming the Dispute Resolution System to help injured Ontario drivers settle disputed claims faster. Moving administration of the system from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to the Ministry of the Attorney General's Licence Appeal Tribunal would help cut down on consumer frustration as well as curb financial and administrative stress on the system, which can increase costs and cause rates to go up.
- Establishing a transition strategy for the licensing of health service providers that bill auto insurers so that only licensed providers can get paid directly by insurers.
- Reducing the amount of time a vehicle can be stored, accruing charges, after an accident without notice to the driver from 60 days to a shorter timeframe.
- Exploring the establishment of a special investigation and prosecution unit on serious fraud, including auto insurance fraud.
The government is also continuing to explore a province-wide approach to oversight of the towing industry. Consultations with the industry that are underway now will inform recommendations that will be released later this month.
Making auto insurance rates more affordable for drivers is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and strategic partnerships.
- Since 1990, mediation has been a mandatory first step for disputes between claimants and insurers over entitlement to, or the amount of, benefits before a claimant can choose to go to court or arbitration.
- The review of the Dispute Resolution System was led by the Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, a former Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and received input from 35 stakeholders, including written submissions and in-person meetings. Mr. Cunningham delivered an interim report in November 2013 and then held further consultations before submitting a final report on Feb. 18, 2014.
- In August 2013, the government announced a plan to reduce auto insurance rates for Ontario drivers by a target of 15 per cent on average within the next two years — with an average eight per cent reduction target by August 2014.
- Auto insurance rate filings approved during the fourth quarter of 2013 fell an average of 3.98 per cent and during the third quarter of 2013 by 0.68 per cent. Rates have decreased by an average of 4.66 per cent since August 2013.
- Once an insurer’s proposed rate change is approved by the regulator, drivers eligible for rate reductions will see these new rates when their policies are renewed. Most policies are renewed annually.
- To date, the government has taken action to address about half of the 38 recommendations made by Ontario's Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force aimed at preventing fraud and helping protect consumers, and is committed to addressing remaining recommendations over the coming months.
- An independent third-party has been contracted to assess the government’s efforts to reduce auto insurance costs and premiums. An interim report will be delivered to the Minister of Finance in mid-March.
"We agreed that rates would decrease by 15 per cent on average for Ontario drivers over the next two years. I am pleased that within the first six months we are on track to achieve that reduction. The measures we’re introducing today will help further tackle fraud, reduce costs and continue to lower auto insurance rates. These measures build on our previous work and would help ensure a fair and affordable auto insurance system for Ontario drivers."
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance