Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Time to Fix Ontario's Broken Auto Insurance System

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Time to Fix Ontario's Broken Auto Insurance System

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Time to fix Ontario's broken auto insurance system

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published April 19:

For a document the provincial government insists contains "no news," a new report on Ontario's auto insurance system sure contains some eye-opening numbers.

For example: Ontario's rates of deaths and injuries in car accidents are at historically low levels. And they are among the lowest in the country.

At the same time, drivers in this province pay the highest annual auto insurance premiums in Canada - $1,458 per vehicle, on average, in 2015. That's 55 per cent higher than the average in other provinces.

If Ontario drivers paid just the average annual cost across Canada for car insurance (about $930), collectively they would shell out $4 billion less each year.

David Marshall, who wrote the report at the Wynne government's request, calls that the "opportunity gap" in Ontario's fundamentally broken auto insurance system.

That's bad enough. Just as bad is Marshall's conclusion that at the same time as Ontario drivers are paying through the nose to insure their vehicles, accident victims are getting substandard care. Those who are injured don't get appropriate care, take longer to recover, and may develop permanent impairments as a result of even minor damage. He calls that the "value gap."

Part of the problem is that even minor injuries can take more than a year to settle and various parties cream off much of the money. Marshall found that every year a third of benefits - about $1.4 billion - goes to lawyers' fees, expert opinions and insurers' costs instead of to treating injured people.

The bottom line: we're paying a lot more and getting less. Marshall, a former CEO of the province's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, has delivered a dispassionate but devastating diagnosis of this "flawed" system and concludes that it needs to be fundamentally re-organized. It is, he writes, "one of the least effective insurance systems in Canada. …

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