The Ontario government announced its latest round of changes to automobile insurance, called the Fair Auto Insurance Plan. This follows on the heels of the report by David Marshall, Ontario’s advisor on auto insurance, who released a report in April 2017 outlining a number of suggestions for modifying Ontario’s auto insurance regime.
The Government will be moving to introduce standardized treatment plans for people with the most common types of injuries. For example, a standardized treatment plan for people who sustain a whiplash type injury will be rolled out with an emphasis on recovery, best practices and a change in emphasis from cash payouts to ensuring appropriate care.
The Marshall report was critical about the use of experts where an insurer would retain its own experts and a claimant would retain his or her own experts, leading to a battle of experts. The government has announced that it will create independent examination centres to provide assessments of injuries, to help resolve and reduce diagnostic disputes and remove this battle of the experts dynamic from the system.
The government is working with the Law Society of Upper Canada (now the Law Society of Ontario) to ensure that contingency fee agreements are more easy to understand and transparent. This will include standardized contingency fee agreement wording, a know your rights guide for the public, and various disclosure obligations by lawyers and paralegals.
The government has also announced the creation of a Serious Fraud Office to combat systemic insurance fraud in Ontario. Furthermore, the government announced that it would review the risk factor system that insurers use to calculate drivers’ premiums.
The government intends to establish a panel of experts that will guide the government on enacting the reforms and engaging with drivers, insurers, health service providers and legal service providers.
Accordingly, it appears as if 2018 will be another year where auto insurance reforms will be a hot topic. A backgrounder on the Plan can be accessed here.