Insurance News – Monday, June 22, 2015

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Monday, June 22, 2015:

  • State Farm in the U.S. is considering a plan that would charge customers on a per-trip basis could factor in elements not considered in traditional insurance policies, including the identity of the driver, driving behaviour, number of passengers, weather and time of day.
  • New California ride service Shuddle allows parents to book trips around town for their children – Uber for kids.
  • Ontario auto insurers and lawyers blame each other as reason for high premiums The truth is, they’re both responsible.
  • The battle between Uber, Lyft and taxis has moved to airports.
  • When does auto insurance cover ride-hailed drivers’ cars?
  • How ruling that drivers are employees upends Uber’s business model.

Insurance News – Tuesday, November 17, 2015:

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Tuesday, November 17, 2015:

  • Ontario Conservatives seek to regulate Uber, AirBnB and the sharing economy province-wide.
  • Insurer cancelling policies of UberX drivers: “considered commercial use and is unacceptable for personal vehicles”.
  • Uber says it needs self-driving cars to avoid ending up like the taxi industry.
  • A decline in accident frequency due to safer vehicles and the adoption of autonomous vehicles could shrink the U.S. personal auto insurance sector by 60 percent within 25 years,
  • Ready or not, Tesla Autopilot means self-driving cars are already on Canadian roads.
  • Public consultation on Ontario tow truck regulations coming to a close.

Insurance News – Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Wednesday, January 27, 2016:

  • Kathleen Wynne says pledge to cut auto insurance 15 per cent was a ‘stretch goal’ – classic govt speak!
  • Ontario’s finance minister is hard-pressed to explain why he continued to declare publicly that the government would meet an election pledge to cut auto insurance rates despite being aware that keeping the promise would be challenging.
  • Canadians are wary of self-driving cars.  They would rather see technology make driving safer.
  • Google’s monthly report for its self-driving car project is in, and according to data recorded by onboard computers, the car’s human drivers intervened 13 times between September 2014 and November 2015 to avoid an accident.
  • Is State Farm preparing for the end of auto insurance?
  • The biggest roadblock facing driverless cars is not government regulation but lawyers.
  • Windsor wants to become test site for self-driving vehicles.

Ontario Ministry of Finance Has Provided Notice On Intent To Introduce New Rules For Service Providers

The Ministry of Finance is proposing to amend O. Reg. 7/00  to make it an unfair or deceptive act or practice (UDAP) for a person who provides or offers to provide goods or services for the benefit of a person who claims statutory accident benefits to communicate any false, misleading or deceptive information regarding their business or billing practices, services provided, or any other matter related to licensing.

 This UDAP is intended to apply to both licensed and unlicensed service providers. An unlicensed service provider may not advertise that they are a licensed provider. A licensed provider that has had their licence suspended or revoked may not continue to advertise that they are licensed. This amendment would ensure that consumers can identify licence holders and avoid confusion about what licence holder status means. This will also discourage inaccurate claims about what a licence signifies.

 In addition, the Ministry is proposing regulatory amendment to allow the Superintendent to apply variable administrative monetary penalties (AMP) to deal with significant contraventions of the regulations that can involve or potentially lead to improper billing practices. The service provider would have the opportunity for a hearing before the Financial Services Tribunal on the proposed AMP.

The Ministry is also proposing to amend O. Reg. 90/14 (Service Providers – Standards for Business Systems and Practices) to introduce a duty to report accurately to the Superintendent of Financial Services, in the periodic return established under section 288.4(5) of the Insurance Act, all information necessary to calculate any applicable fees established pursuant to section 121.1 of the Insurance Act.

The Ministry is proposing to amend O. Reg. 89/14 (Service Providers – Listed Expenses) to prohibit licensed service providers from invoicing claimants directly – they will receive direct payment from insurers. The proposed amendment will allow licensed service providers to seek payment for outstanding accounts directly from claimants in prescribed situations (where a full and final settlement has been reached and signed between the insurer and the insured person that includes these amounts).

Finally the Ministry is also proposing to amend O, Reg. 34/10 (SABS) to require claimants who go to unlicensed service providers to obtain specified billing information from their service provider and submit this information to their insurer when seeking reimbursement.

The SABS would also be amended to require insurers to provide HCAI the billing information when they reimburse a claimant for a “listed expense”. These amendments will ensure the continuity of robust and more complete data collection by HCAI. It will avoid possible loss of data that may otherwise occur when claimants are invoiced directly by service providers who are not licensed to be paid directly through the central processing agency.

The Ontario government’s Regulatory Registry is inviting stakeholders and interested parties to provide comments on these proposed regulations (that have yet to be made public). The deadline for comments is November 6, 2014.

 Ontario’s Regulatory Registry provides information on new proposed regulatory initiatives that could affect Ontario businesses and recently approved regulations that affect business. Regulations are approved by the provincial Cabinet.

 Once a regulation is approved, a plain language summary of the regulation is posted on the Registry website, with a link to the regulation posted on the Government of Ontario’s e-Laws website.

Insurance News – Friday, September 5, 2014

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Friday, September 5, 2014:

  • Ontario plans to reintroduce their road safety bill (formerly Bill 173) with $1,000 fines and 3 demerit points for texting while driving.
  • ICBC wants to base auto insurance rates to cover the rising cost of injury claims due to distracted driving.
  • One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident. If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could be sued over the car’s actions?
  • Florida’s third-party bad-faith lawsuit environment may have resulted in more than $800 million in additional auto liability claim payments in 2013.
  • The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. is the equivalent of 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion Gross Domestic Product which is nearly $900 billion.
  • New era of self-driving cars will transform cities.

It’s Time For The Insurance Industry To Be Serious About Optional SABS

This week I was speaking to my insurance agent who preparing my renewals. I was asking her about how the optional benefits have been impacted by the regulatory changes that became effective on June 1st. During the conversation it came out that she only had two clients with optional benefits – me, and my daughter and son-in-law. That’s it!

Insurance consumers in this province aren’t that risk averse. They are foolish and misinformed. As the government continues to whittle away at mandatory accident benefits, consumers maintain the belief that the basic level of coverage is adequate. Who’s fault is that? Who is responsible for ensuring consumers are properly informed? The insurance companies, brokers and agents.

When I walk into Best Buy, just about any purchase comes with an aggressive pitch for extended warranty. The sales reps will try to convince how little it costs to purchase that extra protection. They sell a lot of them. People have no problems dropping $100 on an extended warranty for a dishwasher but can’t get their head around spending that on one million dollars of additional health care protection. I paid just $98 for that over the past year. Just two tanks of gas.

People aren’t happy about the price of auto insurance so they try to keep coverage down to save money. It’s the responsibility of the insurance industry to make sure that they at least understand what they are getting for the money.

Insurance News – Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Tuesday, January 26, 2016:

  • Town of Stratford has built connected infrastructure to attract self-driving cars for testing over the past decade.
  • Uber’s impact being felt as San Francisco’s largest cab company Yellow Cab to file for bankruptcy.
  • Why baby boomers embrace sensor-driven cars, but doubt self-driving cars.
  • While claiming their self-driving cars have not caused an accident, Google also reports self-driving car mistakes: 272 failures and 13 near misses.
  • Google wants to form more partnerships with automakers and suppliers in 2016 to accelerate work on self-driving cars.
  • Obama boosts self-driving car development with $4 billion investment.

David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered.

Back in April, David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered was submitted to the Minister of Finance. What followed was a consultation process, in which that I participated. On December 5, 2017, the government announced their plan to address fraud and high premiums. I was relieved to see that Marshall’s recommendation to create an independent evaluation centre network in public hospitals was abandoned. This is an op-ed piece I wrote, which was published in the Toronto Star in October that dealt with this specific issue.

Ontario’s crowded hospitals don’t need even more exams

Attempts by the province of Ontario to fix auto insurance could well end up causing more harm than good to the health care system.
Now, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. And that’s nobody’s intention. But we’d all have to live with the result.
Here’s how we got here: The provincial government is considering a round of reforms for auto insurance in Ontario, unfortunately without basing those decisions on decent data, evidence or analysis. If adopted, the end result is going to send more people, not fewer, to hospitals, and all at a time when overcrowding is already at crisis levels in the province.
We didn’t start out with a flawed system. Most people would agree that the introduction of no-fault auto insurance in Ontario was the right thing to do. Ontario drivers deserve an affordable system that provides coverage and protects accident victims and that’s what they got.
It didn’t last. The insurance industry began to pressure government to make changes. Political pressure then led to successive governments adopting half-baked, knee-jerk solutions to auto-insurance delivery — anti-fraud measures were implemented, a licensing regime was created, a new dispute resolution system was put in place, basic accident benefit coverage was reduced.
Since 2010, there have been more than 30 changes to auto insurance regulations, most, if not all, with the intention of lowering costs. Few people will suggest the system has actually been improved in that time.
The government is now considering another round of reforms. This time it’s through David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered.
But these changes, if adopted, will be no more successful than the previous reforms. One of the most alarming is the suggestion that medical exams, when required after an accident — which are currently done in independent medical centres — should happen in hospitals.

That is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s trying to fix one system while hurting a far more essential one. Current OHIP patients typically wait six to 30 months to see a specialist for an assessment. According to a recent story in the Toronto Star, it now takes 30.4 hours to be placed in an inpatient bed from the emergency department in the province. That’s the longest it’s ever been. There’s no way this helps with that problem.
I had the lead in developing and introducing the system which saw independent medical assessments being done as part of auto insurance claims, back in 1994. In the beginning, some were conducted in hospitals.
That didn’t last. While hospitals have different needs and resources, some could make better use of the space required, while others may not have had the patient volume to justify offering the assessments. Still more may have had trouble simply finding assessors. On the whole, hospitals decided on their own their resources were needed elsewhere. There’s no doubt that’s true.
The other troubling recommendation the province is considering is a proposal to adopt a controversial Workplace Safety and Insurance Board model for auto insurance medical exams. The systems aren’t transferable. For example, the examiners in the WSIB system don’t appear as witnesses in disputes. But disputes are built into auto insurance claims. As a result, the proposed changes have the potential to add another layer of assessments and costs.
Changes can and should be made to auto insurance in the province. It would be better for the province to focus on standards for those who conduct the independent examinations — something that has been recommended many times in the past. But that’s one change that’s never been made.
The Marshall report indicates that this is “an opportunity to learn from past experience and fix the problems in the current auto insurance delivery system.”
I don’t see that happening. Instead, I believe that implementing this report would repeat past errors. We’ve had enough of those already.