On April 30, the Standing Committee on General Government will be considering the proposed Bill 171, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014. The purpose of the Act would be to change the dispute resolution system currently used for auto accidents in Ontario. As expected, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is one of the most vocal proponents of the act, claiming that this act will be vital in ensuring the 15% reduction in auto insurance rates that Ontarians have consistently been promised over the past few years.
The gist of Bill 171 is that instead of allowing accident victims to bring claims to court, all claims and resolutions would be handled by an independent tribunal. Therefore, instead of being handled by FSCO, all disputes moving forward would be handled under the control of the Ministry of the Attorney General. Aside from a list of other minor changes, one other noticeable proposal is the plan to institute a new licensing process for health care providers in order to limit which providers would be entitled to receive payments from insurance companies.
There are at least two glaring problems with Bill 171: firstly, we will be losing the wealth and experience that FSCO and its mediators have in dealing with accidents benefits disputes. Secondly, claimants will now be further restricted by being precluded from bringing a claim before civil courts, as meritorious as their case may be.
As personal Injury Lawyers in Ontario we have seen lip service continue to be paid to lowering insurance claims under the guise of preventing fraud. Meanwhile, as insurance companies insist in dangling this panacea, not only have rates not been reduced but accident victims in Ontario have suffered through a severe dilution of benefits available to help them recover from their injuries. With Bill 171, victims of injuries in motor vehicle accidents are now also being forced to waive their right to court action.
At Intraligi Law Firm we are all for the reduction of fraudulent claims. We wonder however, how much of these measures are simply methods the insurance companies are using to increase profits by denying benefits that are sorely needed, hiding behind the façade of honorable intentions.
If you have been injured in a car accident or slip and fall, contact a personal injury lawyer at Intraligi Law Firm by calling 1-855-448-4277 for a free consultation.
Stephan Intraligi, Hon.B.A., J.D., Esq.
Mr. Intraligi is a personal injury lawyer and the founder of www.intraligilaw.ca offering free consultations for all victims of car accidents, slip and falls and all other type of personal injury related matters.