Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario to Combat Auto Insurance Fraud in Effort to Lower Premiums

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario to Combat Auto Insurance Fraud in Effort to Lower Premiums

Article excerpt

Ontario to combat auto insurance fraud


TORONTO - Ontario's governing Liberals introduced legislation Tuesday that they say would help reduce auto insurance rates, even though they're not ordering a cut to premiums.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said rates across the province have dropped almost five per cent on average over the last six months and will fall further if the bill passes.

"Now some believe, and will try to tell you, that rates can magically fall. That's impractical," he said.

"To reduce rates in a realistic and practical and lasting way, we must look at the entire picture. The big picture."

The proposed legislation will combat fraud, make it easier to settle disputes, provide better oversight and curb costs, allowing the government to meet its target of an average 15 per cent cut to premiums over two years, Sousa said.

The dispute resolution system for injured drivers would be moved from Ontario's insurance regulator to an existing tribunal run by the Ministry of the Attorney General, which the industry said would eliminate one step in the appeals process.

Moving files from one office to another isn't enough, said Ralph Palumbo of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The government needs to provide more resources so the "crazy" backlog of about 16,000 cases can be eliminated.

"If it's done well and right and quickly, we think that costs will come down so that premiums will also come down," he said.

The legislation proposes more oversight of the billing practices of health clinics and allow only licensed service providers to be paid directly by insurers.

Insurance agents or adjusters who abuse the system could also see their licences suspended immediately, Sousa said.

There are measures to cut down on the amount of time vehicles can be stored after an accident, so owners and insurers won't be squeezed for more money. …

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