By CRM Staff

Toronto, Ontario -- February 24, 2014 -- The province has released its final report containing 28 recommendations tailored to improve Ontario's auto insurance dispute resolution system (DRS).

The DRS review was delivered to the Ontario Ministry of Finance by J. Douglas Cunningham, a former associate chief justice of the province's Superior Court, to Minister of Finance Charles Sousa who feels the final review contains many positive ideas to build upon.

"The report makes 28 recommendations to transform the DRS so that it operates more efficiently and effectively, which would reduce consumer frustration, uncertainty and costs," says Sousa in a Ministry release. "These changes would help injured Ontario drivers settle auto insurance disputes faster. They would also help lead to long-term stability in claims costs, which will help lower rates for Ontario drivers."

Included among the 28 recommendations is the establishment of a public sector administrative tribunal, enchanced mediation services and arbitration protocols that will ensure reports continue to be published while also recommending that arbitration decisions not necessarily be used as precedent for other cases.

The public sector tribunal would likely be incorporated into pre-existing tribunals and would be headed by a minister as opposed to the superintendent of financial services. A number of other tribunals would also be established in various sectors, inlcuding the environment and social justice, with it also being recommended that insurance companies establish internal review processes and be required to disclose to claimants how they may access it after benefits have been denied.

Sousa says the report should contribute to helping injured Ontario drivers settle auto insurance disputes faster and will lead to long term stability and claims costs, lowering rates for Ontario drivers.

"Our government will carefully review the final report and, where appropriate, introduce legislation based on the recommendations," he says, stating the establishment of a fair and affordable auto insurance program is part of the government's plan to ease auto-related costs on Ontarians. "Making auto insurance rates more affordable for drivers is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and strategic partnerships."

While the report is being applauded by the industry and government, an advocacy group has taken exception to statements made by Cunningham. The Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform (FAIR), who was one of 33 stakeholders who contributed submissions to Cunningham's report, says the final report ignores the presence of what the non-profit organization calls flawed medical opinions and how they affect cases present throughout the system. FAIR states further that medical opinions concerning accident victims is crucial to determine whether they are eligible for benefits, and that in the past "questionable medical reports" have led to insurance companies turning down claimants for benefits. 

To read the full Ministry Report, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Finance online at Fin.gov.on.ca.

 

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