Beware The Fine Print In The Fighting Fraud And Reducing Insurance Rates Act

By Albert Conforzi | March 10, 2014

While the recent bill proposing changes to the Insurance Act of Ontario are being trumpeted as anti-fraud measures, the public should take heed of what’s in the fine print. According to the Canadian Press, here’s what is in the bill:

The provincial government is introducing legislation aimed at curbing auto insurance costs by combating fraud, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said on Tuesday.

At a news conference, Sousa said the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Insurance Rates Act will make it easier to settle disputes by moving the dispute system to the attorney general’s Licence Appeal Tribunal, which he said will help cut down on consumer frustration.

The legislation — which will be introduced late Tuesday afternoon at Queen’s Park — is the next step in the government’s Auto Insurance Cost and Rate Reduction Strategy.
One of the measures, Sousa said, is to establish a special investigation and prosecution unit for serious fraud, including auto insurance fraud.

Okay. However, the devil is in the details.
This round of changes could easily be called the Insurance Company Relief Act. Let’s take a look at how this bill impacts car owners and accident victims:
  • prejudgment interest at 5% is eliminated
  • the right to sue for accident benefits is eliminated
  • special awards are eliminated
  • financial services commission dispute resolution is being rolled into a licensing appeals tribunal
  • the arbitrator’s power to refer insurer misconduct to the market conduct branch is eliminated
  • Each of these measures hurts victims and rewards insurers for abusive conduct and delay
I have said before that insurers in this province will not be happy until they can collect premiums and have no obligation to pay claims.
The government drank the Kool-Aid served by insurers. The sad fact is that victims will only learn of how they were sold out when they are injured, vulnerable, and looking for help that won’t be there.

Albert Conforzi is a personal injury lawyer with Pace Law Firm in Toronto. Pace’s personal injury lawyers have been helping accident victims since 1980.