Ontario changing auto insurance system; aiming to tackle fraud, lower rates

Ontario is cracking down on what it calls rampant auto insurance fraud, saying it will lead to rate cuts for the province’s 10 million drivers.

Auto insurance rates are a thorny issue for the Liberal government, which is still trying to deliver on a promise it made to cut rates by 15 per cent on average from 2013 levels.

The government said Tuesday, December 5, 2017 that it will develop standard treatment plans for common collision injuries such as sprains and whiplash, create independent and neutral examination centres to provide medical assessments for more serious injuries, and ensure that contingency fees set by lawyers are fair and transparent.

The plan would also establish a Serious Fraud Office, staffed in part by officers from the Ontario Provincial Police, to tackle abuse in the system.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who announced the measures with Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, said the cost of auto insurance fraud is estimated to be as high as $1.6 billion a year. By cracking down on abuse, and holding people accountable, the government can achieve a “substantive rate reduction,” he said.

“Auto insurance fraud has become an industry,” Sousa said. “It’s time to stop it. If you know someone who has been engaged in this crime let the Serious Fraud Office know. They will pursue and investigate these fraudsters and bring them to justice.”

Sousa said the new measures will ensure accident victims receive appropriate care and are assessed independently by health professionals with no ties to an insurer. He could not immediately say what the plan will cost taxpayers or if it sets a specific rate reduction target.

Sousa also urged insurance firms to take action against fraudsters.

“If an insurance company, if the industry is telling us that there’s abuse, there’s fraud in the system, then stop settling,” he said. “Stop settling fraud cases and let’s start attacking the fraud and prosecuting the crime.”

A government-commissioned report earlier this year found that Ontario has the most expensive auto insurance premiums in Canada despite also having one of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities.

The average auto insurance premium in Ontario is $1,458, which is almost 55 per cent higher than the average of all other Canadian jurisdictions, the report found. If Ontario’s premiums were closer to the Canadian average of about $930, it would save Ontario drivers almost 40 per cent _ or about $4 billion a year, it said.

Tuesday’s announcement comes as the Liberal government is still trying to fulfill a promise to reduce rates by 15 per cent on average from 2013 levels _ rates have now decreased on average by about eight per cent since then. The government missed its self-imposed deadline of August 2015 to hit that target and Premier Kathleen Wynne has admitted that was a “stretch goal.”

Insurance company Aviva Canada said if the government implements its new measures, it will help lower rates. The company estimates fraud costs the insurance system $2 billion a year, nearly half a million more than the government estimates, said vice-president Gord Rasbach.

“If you address the fraud piece you will make an impact on rates,” he said. “Fraud, at the end of the day, someone has to pay for it. It really comes down to people who are milking the system (at the expense) of a lot more people who are paying and are honest.”

The opposition Progressive Conservatives said the Liberals are only acting on insurance rates now because an election is less than six months away.

“Auto insurance premiums are still 55 per cent higher than other Canadian jurisdictions,” PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said. “Four years ago this government promised a 15 per cent cut … They have completely bungled this file.”

NDP finance critic John Vanthof, who noted the government plan to cut rates doesn’t set a target, was doubtful the plan will result in a reduction of costs for Ontario drivers.

“They actually haven’t talked about how much their new stretch goal for insurance going down (is),” he said. “They’ve talked about measures they want to take but there is no back-up documentation for that.”


IBC releases 2017 Top 10 stolen vehicles list

Source: IBC

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) published on December 5, 2017 its annual Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles list. High-end luxury SUVs are the most commonly stolen vehicles in Ontario.

This year’s 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in IBC’s Ontario region are:

  1. 2016 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  2. 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  3. 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs
  4. 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 2WD Pick-Up
  5. 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs
  6. 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 4WD and GMC Sierra 2500 4WD SUVs
  7. 2003 Hummer H2 4-door 4WD SUV
  8. 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe 4-door 4WD and GMC Yukon 4-door 4WD SUVs
  9. 2014 Toyota 4-Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  10. 2005 Buick Rainier 4-door 2WD, Chevrolet Trailblazer 4-door 2WD and GMC Envoy SUVs

Quoting Statistics Canada as the IBC source, Donaldson noted that Guelph, Ontario reported the largest auto theft activity increase in Canada at 49%. Windsor reported a 14% increase and St. Catharines experienced a 5% increase. Of Ontario’s two largest cities, Toronto reported a 4% increase while Ottawa experienced a 1% decline. Theft was also down 17% in Sudbury, 12% in Barrie and London, 9% in Kingston, and 1% in Peterborough and Hamilton. In Ontario, the rate of recovery for stolen vehicles increased to 60%, up 2 per cent from last year.

BC Seniors to Get New Driving Assessment called the Enhanced Road Assessment (ERA)

The Superintendent may require that a driver complete an Enhanced Road Assessment (ERA) as part of the process of making a Driver Medical Fitness determination. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) administers the ERA on behalf of the Superintendent.There is no fee charged to the driver for the ERA.

For more information on the ERA, see the Enhanced Road Assessment Information for Drivers(PDF).

Some of the most common reasons for an ERA are:

  • A doctor reports a medical condition that may affect a person’s fitness or ability to drive safely
  • Results of a previous on-road assessment suggest a follow-up is necessary; and/or
  • A collision report, police report or other report indicates a driver may be unable or unsure how to handle a common driving situation

The ERA is conducted in a Class 5 vehicle and is designed to assess driving skills and behaviours at the Class 5 or Class 7 level.  It is not used to assess a driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial class vehicle.

The ERA is designed as an assessment which provides RoadSafetyBC with comprehensive information, rather than a road test that is either passed or failed. RoadSafetyBC reviews the results of the ERA, along with all other relevant information in a driver’s file, in order to make a decision to maintain, re-issue, or cancel the driver’s licence. In some cases, additional information may be required in order to make a licensing decision. This may include further medical testing, or an additional ERA. All additional ERAs are at the discretion of RoadSafetyBC, based on all of the information related to a driver’s medical fitness to drive.

Please note: As of March 5, 2018, any outstanding RoadSafetyBC requirement for a Class 5 or Class 7 ICBC road test re-examination may only be satisfied by taking an ERA. For more information on your outstanding requirement, please call RoadSafetyBC at 1-855-387-7747.

Saskatchewan introduces bill to bring in ride hailing services such as Uber

Saskatchewan may soon see ride-hailing services such as Uber.

Minister for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, Joe Hargrave, introduced proposed legislation Thursday to allow companies to provide a vehicle and driver for pre-arranged transportation through a digital platform or app.

Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave says the concerns raised when it comes to taxi companies paying more to operate can be explained on the number of hours they are open for business.

The proposed legislation will require the ride-hailing company to show it has a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance and every vehicle used must be insured.

Municipalities will be able to make bylaws that govern ride-hailing companies.

Drivers must have a criminal record check and a special class of driver’s licence.

“What brought on this legislation was our strong desire to put another option out there in the battle against impaired driving,” Hargrave said.

“These people will be there when the bars close, it gives people another option to pick so they don’t have to make that wrong decision to drive home impaired.”

Ramit Kar, general manager of Uber for Western Canada, says companies like his provide a number of services.

“Number 1, it’s a safe alternative for people to get home after a night out on the town. Number 2, it’s a great earning opportunity for those that are looking to make a little bit of supplemental income.”

Distracted driving technology pilots for British Columbians

Distracted driving technology pilots for British Columbians

With insurance rates in B.C. under escalating pressure, in part from the rapidly increasing number of crashes occurring on our roads, the provincial government, ICBC and police are launching two pilots to explore how technology can help combat distracted driving in our province.

Phone apps paired with telematics on B.C. roads

The first pilot – a partnership between government and ICBC – will include up to 200 customers using phone apps paired with telematics. Telematic technology involves fitting a vehicle with a small device that communicates with an app installed on the driver’s cellphone. The app works to block the use of a handheld device when the in-vehicle technology senses that the vehicle is being driven.

The combination of telematics with phone apps typically has allowed insurers to collect driving behaviour data, such as kilometres travelled and average speed. However for this pilot ICBC is interested in the user’s experience with telematics in their vehicle.  Findings from the pilots will be used to inform future decisions around distracted driving prevention and enforcement, as well as changes to improve the fairness of how insurance rates are set.

In the coming weeks ICBC will confirm two to three vendors whose technology will be used during the pilot, which is set to launch in January with results prepared in the spring of 2018. The technology to be used in the pilot was determined to be the most promising based on a review of submissions from a Request for Information ICBC issued in the spring.

For the pilot, ICBC will recruit volunteers from its customer advisory panel. Customers are encouraged to join ICBC’s customer advisory panel through icbc.com for an opportunity to participate in this pilot and future e-surveys to share opinions about ICBC products, services and policies. ICBC is looking for participants ages 19 years and up, from all across B.C.

Police test Bluetooth-enabled distracted driving scope

Government and ICBC will also be working in partnership with police to conduct an additional pilot to test a new distracted driving enforcement technology beginning in the spring of 2018. A Bluetooth-enabled scope will be the latest tool police will have on-hand to capture distracted driving. Units will be tested by police in varying weather and traffic conditions for usability and effectiveness. The scope will capture an image that can be instantly shared with other officers in the immediate area. That officer will then have the ability to show the image to the distracted driver.

These pilots are some of the many actions that government, ICBC and B.C. police are taking to reduce crashes caused by distracted driving.


David Eby, Minister responsible for ICBC and Attorney General

“Distracted driving is a high-risk behavior that jeopardizes the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike. These pilots are the first step in a thoughtful examination of the role technology can play in preventing distracted driving. I look forward to the results to help us better understand their potential to influence driver behaviour and inform changes so insurance rates are set fairly.”

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“Distracted driving is a serious high-risk behaviour, which is now responsible for more than 25 per cent of all car crash fatalities in our province. If new technology can help police and drivers alike put an end to distracted driving, then we’ll have helped to make roads safer in B.C.”

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

Distracted driving is the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C. The safety of our communities is the highest priority for police and it is for this reason that we are taking the initiative to explore these new technologies. We will continue to work with our partners to look for ideas to assist in changing behaviours involving distracted driving.

Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO

“While we’re eager to find ways to reduce distracted driving through this pilot with our panel, you don’t have to be part of the pilot to make a difference now. You can do that every day by simply taking a break from your phone. Apps are already available, including the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, on iPhones and some Android devices. ICBC’s rates are under considerable pressure and one of those reasons is a significant increase in crashes, many of which are the result of distracted driving.”

An expert weighs in on the high insurance rates in Peel

by Radhika Panjwani

A recent survey by the insurance company reveals among other thingsBrampton has the sixth highest frequency of collision claims per 100 cars within the last two years.

Ontario was the only province to report an overall increase in its collision frequency rate – up 4.7 per cent over last year.

So, how do the results of the survey impact insurance rates? We asked an expert.

Here’s Q/A with Dave Pereira, agency manager, from Allstate Canada

Q. Brampton has some of the highest insurance rates in the country, how do the results of the survey tie into that?

DP. Rising insurance rates are an industry-wide trend that is not connected to the findings of this study. However, rising collision rates and rising claim costs do often trigger the need for higher insurance premiums. But there are also many other factors that go into determining rates. For example, Allstate Canada looks at the claims and driving history of an individual, as well as factors such as the make and model of the vehicle to determine the cost of an insurance premium.

Q. What’s the insurance rate in for instance Hanmer, Ont. which ranks #1 in the list? Have they increased substantially?

DP. The cost of car insurance depends on many factors, including the experience level and driving history of the driver, types of coverage you want included in your policy and the kind of car you drive. One of the best ways to keep your rates lower is by driving safely and avoiding any traffic violations and collisions. Speeding tickets, impaired and distracted driving charges, and collisions will most likely result in higher premiums.

Q. How does this year’s survey compare to say last year’s?

DP. While the 2017 Safe Driving Study can tell us a lot about overall trends, we cannot draw direct comparisons to the previous year’s study. The 2017 Safe Driving Study spans a 24-month period beginning July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017. What we can offer is a comparison to data from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015.

Q. What are some of the things that jump off from this survey. What do the numbers reveal?

DP. The most notable finding from this year’s study is that while we’ve seen improvements in some regions across Canada, collisions continue to rise, with a 2.5 per cent increase in the national collision frequency rate over the previous period. This shows there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce collisions as we head into the year’s most dangerous driving season – winter.

While the data does not tell us why this trend is continuing, we believe it’s important to share the trends we are seeing to help encourage a national conversation about what it means to be a safe driver.

Q. How was the data for the survey compiled?

DP. Allstate Canada researchers analyzed collision claims data and policy claims data from its customers to determine the safest communities based on the frequency and severity of collisions. The study spans a 24-month period beginning July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017, and also offers a comparison to the data from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015. Two-year periods were chosen to provide a larger sample for more meaningful analysis.

To ensure the data provides a realistic outlook of what is happening on the roads, only communities with at least 1,000 cars insured by Allstate Canada during the 24-month period were included in the study. This year, 93 communities in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario were included.

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