By Tom Davis
Toronto, Ontario -- December 6, 2017 -- Ontario has announced it will take measures to make auto insurance more affordable for the province's 10 million drivers with its Fair Auto Insurance Plan.
Announced by Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, in Toronto on Wednesday, the plan includes “significant” reforms that will aim to address fraud in the system, put victims first by providing better access to care for those injured in auto collisions and strengthen consumer protection.
Sousa also said the government would develop standard treatment plans for common collision injuries such as sprains and whiplash, create independent examinations centres to assess more serious injuries, and establish a 'Serious Fraud Office' to tackle auto insurance fraud.
Highlights of the plan included:
- Implementing standard treatment plans for common collision injuries such as sprains, strains and whiplash to help people receive the treatment they need after an accident, changing the emphasis from cash payouts to ensuring appropriate care for victims.
- Reducing diagnosis and treatment disputes between insurance companies and people injured in collisions by instituting independent examination centres to assess more serious auto collision injuries.
- Cracking down on fraud by launching the province's first Serious Fraud Office in the spring of 2018. The office will use an integrated and dedicated approach to combat serious fraud, with a focus on auto insurance fraud, which has been identified as one of the factors contributing to higher premiums
- Directing the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to review risk factors used by insurers to calculate premiums with the goal of ensuring drivers in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfairly high rates.
- Ensuring that lawyers' contingency fees are fair, reasonable and more transparent.
The announcement follows the latest Aviva Fraud report, which found Canadians are “deeply concerned” about the amount of money that so-called “cheaters” are draining out of the automotive insurance system. The report claimed that drivers across the country want to fight fraud to lower the premiums paid by “honest” drivers. Read our coverage of the report here.
“We are also pleased with the commitment to establish a Serious Fraud Office in the spring of 2018, as recommended in Aviva's recent Fraud Report 2017. We estimate that auto insurance fraud costs Canadians up to $2 billion every year and, sadly, it's the vast majority of honest drivers who are paying for the fraudulent minority through high insurance premiums,” said Greg Somerville, CEO of Aviva Canada, in a statement.