Insurance News – Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Tuesday, April 21, 2015:

  • Ontario’s finance minister says auto insurance rates in Ontario have declined seven per cent since 2013 — less than halfway to meeting a Liberal government promise in four months.
  • Progressive Insurance U.S. survey says nearly 80 percent of consumers think bad drivers based on telematics should pay more for auto insurance.
  • Like life insurance, the Canadian market for property & casualty insurance – for personal and small commercial lines – will eventually be “dominated” by two or three major firms according to the head of Desjardins General Insurance Group Inc.
  • The IBC would like to see referral fee and contingency fee arrangements from personal injury lawyers filed with the FSCO Superintendent of Insurance.
  • A National Post article on how Canadian insurance companies are trying to crack down on fake claims.

New Auto Insurance Regulations

In October the government posted a notice on their Regulatory Register inviting stakeholders who comment on proposed auto insurance regulation changes.  The regulations have now been approved by the Ontario Cabinet. The regulations dealing with the licensing of service providers are effective December 1, 2014.  The regulation amendment dealing with the interest on overdue payments is effective January 1, 2015.

Section 51 of the SABS (O. Reg. 34/10) has been amended (by O.Reg. 236/14) so that interest payments of 1 percent per month compounded monthly for overdue SABS payments only applies up to the date on which a mediation proceeding begins.  Once the dispute reaches mediation the interest on overdue SABS payments is calculated at the prejudgment interest rate described in the Courts of Justice Act that is used for past pecuniary loss.  The lower interest rate and is then payable until the date a settlement is reached or a decision is issued that finally disposes of the dispute.

Section 49.1 has been added (by O. Reg. 227/14) to the SABS (O. Reg. 34/10)  to cover invoicing by unlicensed service providers.  These providers must bill claimants using the Standard Invoice (OCF-21) and the claimant is to submit the invoice to their insurer.  It is the responsibility of the insurer to provide HCAI with billing information from invoices submitted by claimants when they reimburse a claimant.

The Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices regulation (O. Reg. 7/00) has been amended (by O. Reg. 231/14). 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.

The Administrative Penalties regulation (O. Reg. 408/12) has been amended (by O. Reg. 230/14) to deal with significant contraventions of the regulations that can involve or potentially lead to improper billing practices by service providers.

The Service Providers – Standards for Business Systems and Practices regulation (O. Reg. 90/14) is amended (by O. Reg. 228/14) 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 Service Providers – Listed Expenses regulation (O. Reg. 89/14) is amended (by O. Reg. 229/14) to allow licensed service providers to seek payment for outstanding accounts directly from claimants where a full and final settlement has been reached and signed between the insurer and the insured person that includes these amounts.

Uber Drivers, Consumers at Risk

I’m featured in the news report below on Uber and insurance.

Mon, Mar 23: Customers who used ride-sharing services like UberX may be at risk if the driver is involved in an accident. As Sean O’Shea reports insurance experts say drivers are violating insurance rules and may be putting themselves and their fares in jeopardy.

Your browser does not support frames. Click here to view the frameless video..

Ontario Moves Forward with Regulating the Towing Industry

Ontario consumers and insurers have had many long-standing complaints about the practices of towing operators.  Back in 2012, the Auto Insurance Anti-FraudTask Force, created by the Minister of Finance, recommended a number of changes regarding the regulation of towing services.  Last year the Ontario Legislature passed Bill 15, a wide-ranging piece of legislation that will have a significant impact on the towing industry. 
Changes will be made to the Consumer Protection Act and its regulation, establishing tow and storage-specific consumer protection measures effective January 1, 2017. They will require tow and storage providers to:
  • Get permission from a consumer or someone acting on their behalf before providing tow and storage services.
  • Record the name and contact information of the consumer, along with the date and time of authorization.
  • Disclose certain information to the in writing, such as the provider’s business name, contact information and address where the vehicle will be towed.
  • Accept credit card payments, in addition to cash, from consumers.
  • Provide an itemized invoice, listing services provided, the cost for each service, and the total cost before demanding or receiving payment.
  • Make available a current statement of rates at their place of business and on any existing website.
  • Post other information, for example, the provider’s name and telephone number on the side of a tow truck, at all business premises and on any website.
  • Provide a consumer with access to the towed vehicle, at no charge, so that they may remove personal property from the vehicle.
  • Prohibit tow and storage providers from recommending repair and storage facilities, legal service providers or health care service providers unless a consumer specifically asks, or the provider offers to make a recommendation and the consumer agrees.
  • Disclose to a consumer whether the provider is getting a financial reward or incentive for providing a recommendation for towing a vehicle to a particular storage or repair shop.
  • Establish minimum insurance coverage including general liability insurance of $2 million, customer vehicle insurance of $100,000 and $50,000 cargo insurance.
  • Maintain authorization and disclosure records, invoices, copies of insurance policy, and current statement of rates for three years.                                         
There are some exemptions, such as, if services are provided under a prepaid agreement or membership in an association, such as the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) where the consumer is not being charged for the specific service being provided.  These exemptions will also apply when the tow and storage services are provided when a vehicle is purchased or leased and the consumer is not charged for the specific service being provided.
The Repair and Storage Liens Act deals with the rights of repairers and storers to claim a lien against vehicles they repaired and/or stored.  Most of the changes to the Repair and Storage Liens Act will take effect on July 1, 2016 The new regulations are designed to eliminate overcharging for vehicle storage and make it easier for vehicle lien holders to find out that the vehicle is in storage in the first place. 
Changes to the Repair and Storage Liens Act and its regulation will:
  • Reduce the notice period from 60 days to 15 days for vehicles registered in Ontario. The new rules are expected to improve storage practices and remove associated costs from the auto insurance system.
  • If the notice is not provided, a lien is limited to the unpaid amount owing for the period of 15 days from the day of receiving the vehicle.
  • Provide guidance to courts in determining the “fair value” of repair or storage where no amount has been agreed upon. A list of discretionary factors (e.g., fixed costs, variable costs, direct costs, indirect costs, profit and any other relevant factors) is set out for consideration.
 Finally, the government is adding regulations under the Highway Traffic Act that will bring tow trucks under the Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) system. Tow trucks and other towing vehicles will require a CVOR certificate.  The CVOR system is used to track the safety of truck and bus operators in Ontario.  This new regulation will come into effect on January 1, 2017.
Under CVOR, tow operators will be responsible for all the drivers and vehicles in their operation. These responsibilities include:
  • Monitoring the conduct and safety performance of drivers.
  • Resolving driver safety issues when they are identified.
  • Keeping vehicles in good, safe condition at all times.
  • Ensuring load security. 
Tow trucks will continue to be exempt from some requirements faced by other classes of vehicle under the CVOR system, such as hours of service limits, daily inspection, detailed recordkeeping requirements and entering truck inspection stations, until the government has concluded consultations with the towing industry and other stakeholders on an effective regulatory regime for tow trucks.

Ontario Rate Approvals Fall in the Third Quarter

FSCO approved 45 private passenger automobile insurance rate filings during the third quarter of 2015.  A total of 40 insurers submitted the filings.  These 40 insurers represent 77.45 percent of the market based on premium volume.  Approved rates decreased on average by 0.50 percent when applied across the total market.  For the first three quarters of 2015, approved rates have decreased by 0.85 percent.

Rate approval decreases since 2013 now total 6.95 percent.  The government rate reduction strategy calls for a 15 percent reduction by August of this year.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa reminded drivers this week that auto insurance discounts will be introduced on January 1, 2016 for consumers who drive with winter snow tires.  The discount amount is still unknown.  Additional reforms are being implemented on June 1, 2016 which is also expected to further reduce premiums.

Insurance News – Monday, August 24, 2015

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Monday, August 24, 2015:

  • The puzzle of reforming Michigan no-fault auto insurance.
  • Market dynamics: Uber and the future of automated cars.
  • With the help of new technology services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar (ride sharing services) and FlightCar, GetAround and RelayRides (car sharing), this industry is among the fastest-growing in America and around the world.
  • Factors unrelated to driving can affect car insurance.
  • Mapping the link between obesity and car driving.
  • Waterloo moves forward to regulate Uber and other ride sharing services.

Insurance News – Friday, March 20, 2015

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Friday, March 20, 2015:

  • Driveless cars may drive down your insurance costs.
  • Not surprising, some insurance companies have suggested that driverless cars  may be a possible financial threat.
  • Google has announced the introduction of a United States version of its Google Compare auto insurance shopping site, which has been operating in Britain for two years.
  • Who is going to own and control the automotive market when driverless cars are introduced? Car manufacturers or technology companies?
  • Uber and Lyft fail to convince judges their drivers are merely ‘contractors’.
  • Uber’s “low-cost” UberPop service has been banned in Germany after a court decided it violated transport laws.

Insurance News – Thursday, July 31, 2014

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Thursday, July 31, 2014:

  • It took a while but a Toronto-based staged collision ring has been slapped with more than $800,000 in fines and restitution for false insurance claims that contributed to more than $4 million in fraudulent claims.
  • Auto insurance and ridesharing: When personal and business uses of a vehicle converge, coverage confusion arises.
  • Men and women can both be terrible drivers but in different ways.
  • A look at the public v. private auto insurance debate – which works better?
  • Is it true that low highway speed limits mainly benefit auto insurance companies in the form of higher premiums?
  • A published study suggests that enforced laws banning texting produced 3% reduction in traffic fatalities for all ages.

Insurance News – Thursday, May 28, 2015

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Thursday, May 28, 2015:

  • Google’s price comparison site in the US and UK is shaking up the insurance industry.
  • Autonomous cars will destroy millions of jobs and reshape the US economy by 2025.
  • A new survey suggests Canadian drivers acknowledge distracted driving is a problem on our roads – but they’re not willing to take the blame.
  • Taxi drivers protests against Uber is a futile attempt to resist technology.  Uber is here to stay, and that’s a good thing.
  • Ontario is pledging $1 million to support projects through the Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle Program.
  • With Uber making deeper in-roads into the taxi business, Toronto cab companies are fighting back with apps of their own, which offer many of Uber’s features including credit card payments and GPS tracking.

Insurance News – Saturday, May 14, 2016

Here are the leading auto insurance headlines from ONTARIO AUTO INSURANCE TOPICS ON TWITTER for Saturday, May 14, 2016:

  • Is an outdated loyalty system the only thing keeping brokers from oblivion?
  • Canadians can now rent their personal vehicle to others through a U.S. company that has just launched in this country. It’s like AirBnB for car owners. But should you do it?
  • A new ride-hailing app made exclusively for women will now launch in the U.S. nationwide this fall after being met with overwhelming demand from users.
  • Auto insurance rates in Ontario have dropped about 10 per cent on average in the past few years, putting the Liberal government two-thirds of the way to a goal that passed eight months ago.
  • Who’s responsible when a self-driving car crashes? In short term it will be drivers but in long term it will likely be manufacturers.
  • Classifying the different levels of vehicle autonomy. Most cars will not be at the top level for many years.