By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- January 10, 2016 -- The CCIF Toronto Cars & Technology Showcase is just around the corner. The biggest collision repair event in Canadian history happens January 28 and 29 at the Universal Event Space in Vaughan, Ontario. Tickets are already over 50 percent sold out. This is a hot event.
Collision Repair magazine has contacted some of the featured speakers, offering a sneak peak at some of the issues and ideas that are going to be discussed at CCIF. One of those appearing at the event is Pete Karageorgos, Director, Consumer and Industry Relations, Ontario, at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
IBC is the national trade association for Canada’s private property and casualty insurance industry companies. Member companies provide 90 percent of the home, business and automobile insurance coverage available in this country. Karageorgos will be discussing IBC’s advocacy work around changes to municipal bylaws and provincial regulations concerning towing and storage of vehicles in the province.
The regulatory changes have been one of the biggest issues in the collision repair and tow industries in Ontario this year. In his pre-CCIF interview with Collision Repair magazine, Karageorgos discussed the need for the changes.
“I think for those in the audience it's important to understand our perspective in the industry in terms of how these changes are helping,” says Karageorgos. Politicians have been hearing from constituents that current practices are not working. “Consumers have raised concerns with local politicians or municipal staff. Local residents are saying 'something needs to be done.' It's a response to practices that local citizens did not want to put up with. They're trying to address challenges that they were hearing from consumers.”
As well, there is a sort-of patchwork of varying regulations evolving in the province. “Throughout Ontario we've got municipalities that have been taking action. Some of the largest municipalities have gone out and enacted bylaws on their own to regulate towing and storage,” says Karageorgos. This is becoming a problem for police.
When the new regulations were being drafted, both provincial police and some local police forces were at the table. “One comment that was heard from the police is that it's difficult for the front line constable who's perhaps addressing a crash. For example, what about an accident on a municipal road that is the border between two different municipalities that have different regulations? That's really confusing. It's confusing for consumers. It's confusing for those who deal with it day in and out, the officers. If we can create some openness and a level playing field, that's going to help unravel this confusion,” says Karageorgos. “From the drivers to the police officers to the auto body shop to the insurers, getting everyone on the same page, getting that level playing field … that's what this is about. That means creating lines of communication. How do you go about ensuring everyone is on the same page? I think the intent behind some of the changes … the government has taken in terms of charges and posting of rates across the province is a way of doing this."
Karageorgos says he understands that there will be a range of voices on these issues. “This makes sense. There are different opinions on these issues. But I think at the end of the day, if the level playing field created and exists, that's going to be good. That's going to be the overall message I'll bring to the meeting,” he says.
Interestingly, Karageorgos said he will also touch on what the next steps should be in the ongoing evolution of accident response in Ontario. As he puts it, “The changes happening now are still early stages. There are other questions and points that have to be addressed in terms of inspection of tow trucks and operator training on two vehicles,” says Karageorgos. “As well, when it comes to body shops and I-CAR certifications … there are expectations that you would have to take certain courses to be able to work in the industry. That will have consequences in terms of costs. If you're going to have to take a course, how is that going to play out? These are still questions to be worked out. Ithink it's important that everyone understand the industry has to ensure that the guy at the scene is properly trained. This is still a work in progress.”
The CCIF Cars & Technology Showcase takes place on January 28 and 29, 2016. For more information or to register, please visit ccif.ca.