The Insurance Act and SABS Changing Again
- March 20, 2015
- Lisa Morell
- No comments
The Insurance Act and SABS are in the process of changing again. One sure thing is that by virtue of the time it takes to implement legislative changes the real beneficiary of changes surely is the insurer. It is anticipated that the Insurance Act will be “reformed” again in 2015 and draft amendments are already being circulated for input from various stakeholders.
One obvious question is why can we not design an automobile insurance regime that does not require amendment every 5 years – what is constantly changing about people getting hurt in car accidents and having insurance to assist them with wage replacement and treatment needs?, and to make it worse each set of amendments seem to complicate things rather than make things easier for consumers.
Take the Minor Injury Guideline for example invented in 2010. First problem complicated multi-pronged definition with no clear dispute resolution mechanism. Here we are April 2014 and we do not have a definitive court decision on the applicability of the Minor Injury Guideline which translates into thousands of claimants who have paid insurance premiums supposedly to access up to $50,000.00 of medical rehabilitation benefits but are capped at $3,500.00 and suffering as a result. I would think this suits the insurers just fine.
One of the proposed amendments is to remove the courts from the dispute resolution process. Right now a claimant can opt for court rather than going through the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. This is how we got the delay claimants faced at FSCO reviewed by the Ontario Court of Appeal who in the Cornie decision reiterated the fact that insurance legislation is consumer protection legislation and provided a decision designed to protect the rights of claimants to the the speedy resolution contemplated in the Insurance Act and largely ignored by FSCO due to a lack of resources. Since that decision the delay at FSCO has been substantially cleaned up, but now not only do the amendments propose removing the automatic right of claimants to choose the court they also want to transfer the dispute resolution process to a different commission. How long would changes of that magnitude take to implement, and in the meantime claimants would have no recourse to the courts.
As these changes go through consultation stages and eventually come to the electorate for approval the only answer if for consumers to carefully scrutinize these changes and speak to their insurance brokers about the changes. Consumers need to start operating as if they could be a claimant and try to develop an understanding of how these changes could impact the coverage available to them, not just the cost of their insurance premium. Brokers also may have additional coverages available at reasonable rates that can enhance coverage available to policy holders in the event of an accident.