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Vive le Verdict: Quebec estimator sees ‘total victory’ following insurer complaint

Trois-Rivières, Quebec — Trois-Rivières, Quebec-based estimator Stéphane Lachance can breathe a sigh of relief after a lengthy deliberation process regarding a complaint Intact Insurance filed against him last year.

On September 14, the Mouvement Carrosiers Quebec (MCQ) announced a “total victory” for Lachance, who had recently seen his Certificate of Qualification revoked by the Groupements des assureurs automobiles (GAA) Disciplinary Committee following a complaint Intact Insurance lodged against him in 2020.

In January 2020, following a minor collision, the owner of a 2004 Toyota Prius filed a damage claim with Intact Insurance. Their vehicle was deemed a total loss.

Unhappy with Intact Insurance’s decision, the owner of the vehicle filed a lawsuit against Intact Insurance in the Court of Quebec, small claims division, and called on Lachance as an expert witness⁠—who, at the time, was under temporary license suspension for reasons unnoted.

On March 13, 2020, Intact Insurance filed a claim with the Quebec-based GAA, the designated overseer of automotive insurance in the province. The complaint alleged that Lachance performed the function of estimator in a “derogatory manner”; that he improperly used a GAA document to prove his skills and failed to enter a certificate qualification number on an estimate he had allegedly helped construct for his client in preparation for small claims court.

In response to the complaint, the GAA dictated that its complaints officer “can communicate with any person likely to provide information relevant to the handling of the complaint and collect its version.” Regardless, the officer sided with the insurer, stating that Lachance had committed ethical faults.

Fast-forward a year to April 2021 when the GAA’s Disciplinary Committee allowed the parties to share their sides⁠—and Lachance spoke out. He argued that he did not act as an experienced collision repair estimator, but instead as a knowledgeable autobody repairer capable of placing judgement on the reparability of the Toyota Prius in question. The documents he had allegedly wrongfully prepared were only intended to illustrate his knowledge and skills in collision repair.

On May 25, the disciplinary committee declared Lachance guilty of having failed in his professional obligations by acting as an appraiser while his license was suspended.

The committee also alleged risk of recurrence on Lachance’s part and hammered down on the seriousness of the fault, ordering a “complete and final withdrawal” on Lachance’s certificate of qualification.

But Lachance knew he was never in the wrong. Further, according to the MCQ, the Disciplinary Committee mistakenly referred to the disciplinary case law in personal insurance, rather than applying the rules dictated in the Disciplinary Process of Car Damage Estimators.

Faced with the decision, he hired legal support via M. Estelle Savoie-Dufresne and submitted the disciplinary committee’s decision to arbitration.

On August 25, the arbitrator overturned the decision of the committee and rejected Intact Insurance’s original complaint, stating the committee did not give reasons for its decision.

“Following this case, the origin of which can be called desolate, we from the Mouvement carrossier du Québec can only be happy with its appropriate conclusion,” wrote the organization in a press release. “We hope that it will have beneficial effects on the often difficult relationships between car insurers and the insurance groups, on the one hand, as well as between the various players in our industry.”

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