Auto Insurance and the Ontario Party Platforms

Each of the three main political parties has addressed the issue of auto insurance as part of their policy platforms in anticipation of the Ontario provincial elections. They have each expressed how they will deal with auto insurance should they win the election.

Liberals

The Liberal platform for auto insurance, which was set out in the 2014 Spring Budget, seeks to reduce average rates and indicates that these rates will be 8% lower by August 2014 and 15% lower by August 2015. One issue, though, is that their budget does not account for any specific measures to be taken that would achieve these rate reductions. In March 2014, Liberals unsuccessfully introduced Bill 171, which proposed a number of solutions to the issue of barriers to the rate reduction. Its initial focus will be on eliminating auto insurance fraud, with an investigation and prosecution office to be developed for that purpose. An independent third party was retained by Liberals to provide annual “Automobile Insurance Transparency and Accountability Expert Reports” as a method of assessing their efforts to reduce auto insurance rates and costs. Liberals are encouraging insurance companies to offer customers usage-based insurance, which relies on technology to offer discounts for safe driving habits.

New Democratic Party

The platform of the New Democratic Party promises to reduce rates by 15% within a year of forming a government. Although this plan is one year ahead of the Liberal’s, it is not a dramatic shift from the status quo. This is because the Liberal’s two-year plan would end on August 15, 2015, and if the NDP were to have formed a government on June 12, 2014, that would mean that their deadline would be June 12, 2015, which is only two months before the Liberal’s. They are also committed to making transparent rate-setting permanent and allow consumers a say in the rate-setting process. While it is not certain how the NDP would deliver on these promises, they may allow for rate hearings to allow consumers to express their views on the proposed rate changes.

Progressive Conservatives

The Progressive Conservatives also believe that auto insurance premiums are too high, and have proposed reforms in four key areas: eliminate red tape, fight insurance fraud, make the dispute resolution system more effective and ensure auto insurers are accountable to customers. Private mediators are desired to accelerate the process and there is also an idea to establish a peer-reviewed medical assessment system. The PCs believe that if the red tape is removed, then the marketplace would be more competitive. They also want more customer discounts, and plan to attempt to identify fraud through the Health Claims for Auto Insurance electronic billing system. They too wish to establish an office of Crown Attorney to prosecute fraudsters, as well as making senior executives personally and financially liable for the conduct of their company.

Adam Bustamante is a Paralegal student at Centennial College in Toronto studying professional communications with Omar Ha-Redeye.

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