Tag: motor vehicle accident

Ontario’s Auto Insurance Charges

Ontario’s Auto Insurance Charges: The fight for fair premiums, government honesty, and public scrutiny

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has been found to have spurred the government into cutting the coverage of auto insurance, and for nearly the last three years, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and Ontario’s Ministry of Finance have hidden the records proving it.

My attempts at recovering these records under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act were thwarted by the ministry labeling the IBC as a “consultant policy adviser” that demanded confidentiality, before the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario itself. Despite the ministry’s duty of regulating the members of the IBC, they claimed that the IBC’s records—pre-budget consultation submissions as well as lobbying records—should be kept private as they were “policy advice” and not public documents.

Another argument the ministry presented in a sworn affidavit was that since important IBC positions were often the topic of discussion at several Ontario cabinet meetings, then IBC records must be held under the same jurisdiction of cabinet confidence and shouldn’t be released to the public.

Back in May 2016, I appealed against the ministry’s withholding of the records by stating that a dangerous and risky precedent would be set if they included the IBC into the cabinet exemption of confidentiality.

This would set the path for a widespread infringement of the freedom of information legislation, with several meetings and submissions from lobbying groups allowed to become private, had the Financial Services Commission and Finance Ministry had their way.

Thankfully, these unlawful claims were thrown out of court, as per orders PO-3719 and PO-3720 in accordance with last April’s decisions by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The records were released the following month, showing that from 2012 to 2014, the Financial Services Commission and the Finance Ministry were often contacted by the IBC in various briefings, meetings, and other forms of communications.

One example of the IBC’s alarming influence can be found from the records of November 2013, where the government was urged to stick to a $3,500 limit for claims of minor injury that the IBC believed could be “vulnerable to disputes”. The IBC sought to make it more difficult for disputes to occur through means of confining medical and mediation claims, preventing them from “being tested, attacked, expanded and dissected by numerous challenges.”

The IBC often sent suggested drafts of legislation and regulations to the government, while simultaneously pressing individual government officials into keeping the IBC in the loop on any upcoming developments. From a record in August 2014, it can be found that the IBC inquired “which recommended reforms contained in IBC’s submission of July 4 have been reviews and are ready for constructive discussions with a view of finalizing proposed regulatory and legislative language.”

Under the guise of “political uncertainty” during the pre-election atmosphere of a cabinet meeting in February 2014, the IBC requested inclusion on the meeting’s agenda that would deliberate the government holding firm to analyzing expensive towing methods, rehabilitation clinic licensing, and integrating improved resolution reform for disputes.

Ontario drivers are now forced to purchase added premiums for superior accident insurance, all because of the basic auto insurance cuts by the government. Despite the chorus of administrations that have promised cheaper premiums, nearly ten million car owners in Ontario must pay steep auto insurance prices while the market is controlled by multiple national insurance companies.

The auto insurance regulation system of Ontario is sorely lacking in transparency and self-sufficiency. Consumers are allowed to openly criticize and object to proposed rates during open hearings in other jurisdictions of North America, such as California, a system that is missing in Ontario. Stakeholders such as the IBC and the data that they surrender must be made public if we are to achieve a system that is truly independent. In other jurisdictions where these can be challenged, the established premiums and set rates are more consumer-friendly than those found in Ontario.

The chokehold caused by these clandestine industry-government partnerships must be put to a stop if we are ever to lead Ontario’s car-owning public out of the low benefits and shrinking coverage brought on by the lack of regulatory transparency when it comes to auto insurance.

Toronto Motor Vehicle Accident Reports

In May, the Toronto Police Service was planning to discontinue the practice of dispatching officers to motor vehicle accidents if no injuries were reported or where vehicle damage did not exceed $2,000.

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and the Ontario Safety League, publicly expressed concern that this decision would set a dangerous precedent that could be adopted by other municipal police services across the province.

OTLA collected data on how personal injury lawyers rely on Motor Vehicle Accident Reports (MVAR) from accidents, specifically lawyers rely on the information contained in reports while investigating clients’ case or conducting personal injury civil compensation trial. Surveyed lawyers indicated that 83% rely on the information collected in the MVAR in most cases and 88% of lawyers surveyed responded that the MVAR is very important while investigating their client’s case.

For now, the Toronto Police Service has reversed its decision and will continue to attend the scene of accidents.

If I was in a motor vehicle accident, how can I help my lawyers build my case?

Personal injury lawyers help people who are injured to recover benefits and damages that they are entitled to. This financial compensation can be a huge help to victims and their families who are not only dealing with the loss of physical ability, but are often under considerable financial stress due to lost income, medical costs and other expenses that have arisen as a result of the injury.

Your lawyer will guide you through the process, helping you to know what your rights are and what to expect. Whether your case involves dealing with insurance companies only, going to mediation or actually going to court, it will be important for your lawyer to collect as many details about the accident and your injuries as possible in order to build your case.

Question: What information will my lawyer ask for?

In order to start building your case, personal injury lawyers will often ask for a number reports and other evidence. This might include some or all of the following:

  • Medical examination documents and records – In order to fully understand how much compensation you may be entitled to, it is important for your lawyer to have access to your medical records and documents. Your lawyer needs to have a good idea as to what future expenses and losses you might incur because of your injuries.
  • Medical receipts – This one is fairly straightforward. Your lawyer will want to ensure that you get compensated for any medical expenses that you incurred as a direct result of your injury.
  • Photographs of your injuries – These may be used to help you with insurance companies or in a lawsuit against another party.
  • Photographs of the accident site – These can help to establish who is at fault and make it easier to prove your case.
  • Police and witness reports – Again, these may be important in establishing who was to blame for the accident.

The above list is only a sample of the items that your lawyer might request to start building your case. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, there may be other things that they ask for as well.

Question: What if I don’t have everything that my lawyer is asking for?

Do not worry if you don’t have everything that your lawyer needs to build your case. For example, if you were involved in a serious accident you may not have had the presence of mind (or even the ability) to take photos or collect other evidence at the scene. Your lawyer will work with you to compile evidence, but they will also work with others such as your health care providers, police officers and witnesses to put together the missing parts of the puzzle. It is helpful if you can provide your lawyer with as many details as possible, but you also shouldn’t stress over the fact that you are not able to provide everything. Personal injury lawyers are experienced in helping their clients get the compensation that they need to recover and get on with their lives – and to accomplish this they know what sources they will need to access to build your case.