Ontario has passed the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014, which will help the provincial government continue to fight fraud and abuse, reduce costs and uncertainty in the auto insurance system and protect more than nine million licensed drivers across the province.
With the passage of the bill, the province will strengthen consumer protection and help keep the auto insurance system fair, reliable and affordable by:
-Transforming Ontario's auto insurance dispute resolution system to help injured Ontario drivers have their disputed claims settled faster and get the benefits they require sooner;
-Providing consumer protections specific to the towing and vehicle storage industries through measures that require tow and storage providers to make their rates available publicly; accept alternative forms of payment from consumers, such as credit cards, and not insist on cash only; and provide an invoice, including an itemized list of the services provided and the total cost, before demanding or receiving payment;
-Giving the province authority to change the current 60-day period that a vehicle can be stored after an accident, accruing charges, without notice to the owner where required.
These changes will contribute to lower claim costs for insurers and more certainty in Ontario's auto insurance system, helping to reduce rates for drivers.
-Reducing auto insurance rates is part of the government's economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.
In August 2013, the province announced its plan to reduce auto insurance rates for Ontario drivers by a target of 15 per cent on average within the next two years.
From August 2013 to August 2014, auto insurance rates dropped by an average of more than six per cent.
An independent third party has assessed the impact of auto insurance reforms introduced to date on both costs and premiums. Its 2014 Annual Report was recently delivered to the Minister of Finance, who is now reviewing it.
The report affirms that the September 2010 auto insurance reforms have been successful in reducing costs and stabilizing rates for Ontarians and that the government’s current strategy has reduced average rates for Ontario’s drivers. However, it also notes that more action must be taken in order to meet the government’s average rate reduction target by August 2015. The full report will be released very soon.
So far, the province has taken action to address more than half of the 38 recommendations made by Ontario's Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force aimed at preventing fraud and helping to protect consumers, including key proposals for licensing health service providers that bill auto insurance companies directly, enhancing oversight of the towing industry and transforming the auto insurance dispute resolution system.