Some of the Ontario government’s proposed changes to auto insurance laws will not reduce insurance costs and premiums, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations said.

In a Sept. 17 submission, FOLA said that both plaintiff personal injury lawyers and insurance defence lawyers had several concerns about the proposed policies.

“These lawyers are on the front lines of the justice system and see its triumphs and shortcomings every day,” FOLA’s report said. “To us, the Care, Not Cash model had no merit when it was first proposed, and it has no merit now.”

In a separate Sept. 16 submission, the Toronto Lawyers Association said it supported some aspects of the government’s plan — such as reinstating the $2 million benefit limit for catastrophic car crash injuries, allowing recipients to decide how to split the money between medical, rehab and attendant costs. But like FOLA, the government’s plan also raised concerns for the TLA, both on the plaintiff’s and defence side of the bar.

For instance, a proposal to let people lower their auto insurance premiums by reducing their coverage to $1 million is problematic, the TLA wrote.

“Auto insurance policies are difficult for consumers to understand,” the TLA said. “Consumers who opt for $1 million in coverage may be required to turn to Ontario’s already overburdened health care system and other social welfare systems . . . . or they may be forced to suffer without the treatment they need.”

Both FOLA and the TLA said the province will need to focus on insurance broker oversight, as well as extensive campaigns to raise consumer awareness of these issues.

FOLA’s response to the government’s consultation said it is not clear why the government would ban settling with an insurance company. While fraudsters do take advantage of cash settlements, the government’s proposal is a “sweeping” change that would only prevent a small amount of fraud, the TLA said.

Source: Law Times

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