Implementation details key for insurers

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has welcomed the new report on Ontario’s auto insurance system and wants to help the government implement some of the recommendations as quickly as possible.

“The bottom line from our perspective is that we are going to work with the government and want to ensure that the auto insurance system in place provides Ontario drivers with the best products and services at an affordable price,” said Steve Kee, IBC’s director of media relations.

“We will review (the report) in depth and work with the government on this system to make it right for everyone.”

David Marshall, former ceo of the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, said in his 103-page review of the system, titled ‘Fair Benefits, Fairly Delivered,’ that the Ontario auto insurance system is structurally flawed (earlier story in link on main page).

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the government has implemented changes over the last few years to reduce auto insurance costs and to reduce average premiums, but more change is needed.

“We know that to achieve more savings for drivers and to address fraud, we need to transform the current system,” Mr. Sousa said.

Scott Blodgett, a spokesman at the Ministry of Finance, told Thompson’s the government will be consulting with stakeholders on the recommendations over the coming weeks.

Karin Ots, senior vp of regulatory and government relations at Aviva Canada, is hoping to hear details about implementation of the proposals after those consultations.

“There is a huge implementation rift — as there would be with any sort of project of this size,” she said.

“On paper it all looks great (but) we now have to implement.”

She noted that previous reforms and recommendations have already set the stage for systemic changes to Ontario’s auto insurance system.

“I think the (2014) reforms that were put in, especially in defining catastrophic impairment, have been good reforms,” she said.

“And I think the recommendations of the panel that looked at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario mandate are really terrific.”

Ms. Ots said Mr. Marshall’s report has made an accurate connection between the role of the regulator and what has already been identified in the FSCO mandate review.

“We need to give the regulator the tools, the staff, and the resources that would allow them to better manage some of these trends,” Ms. Ots said.

“If we can deliver, and get all of those implementations in, it will change the system in a really fundamental way.”

She stressed that the system and any reform recommendations always need to be looked at as a whole.

“There is always a risk of cherry picking . . . and I think that is dangerous because a lot of these reports talk about ‘the system.’

“So the recommendations hang together and are not nearly as effective when you pick a few of them.”

Ms. Ots said the Marshall report provides a thorough analysis of the Ontario auto insurance system’s various issues.

“I liked that his focus was on the consumer, whether it be the driver who pays the premium or the injured claimant,” she said.

“(He didn’t focus on) insurance company profitability or lawyers and how much they make or don’t make.”

“It was: ‘let’s fix the system’ for the driving public and the injured claimants. And that aligns really well with what Aviva has been talking about.”


More coverage on the report included in Thompson’s Apr. 24 weekly edition. Email for a copy or to subscribe.