The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) says a new report from its Residents’ Reference Panel on Automotive Insurance in Ontario will inform how the regulator sets and delivers on its priorities related to automobile insurance in the province. 

Written by a group of 36 volunteers charged with the task of learning about the sector and delivering their recommendations, the group’s final report says consumer confidence in the system is low, access to timely, recovery-focused care is needed, and they add FSRA should steward the development of a more user-friendly automotive insurance system for consumers.  

The group came to these conclusions, and others, after hearing from 18 experts, including FSRA staff, insurance company representatives, health care professionals, lawyers, victim advocates, brokers and repair centre owners. 

Weighed benefits and drawbacks of different solutions 

“Together they weighed the benefits and drawbacks of the different solutions they learned about, considered the variety of perspectives they heard from and debated how different outcomes might affect their fellow Ontarians,” writes Laurie Drake, chair of the residents’ reference panel. “Panel members have underlined the importance of making all elements of the system easier to understand and navigate,” she adds. “They have stressed the importance of streamlining processes, reducing reliance on the tort system and enabling innovation in an effort to pass on savings to Ontario consumers.” 

Among its recommendations, the group says auto insurance in Ontario should be consumer-centred and care focused. It should provide value for money, be priced fairly for consumers, be easy to understand and be trustworthy.  

Deter fraudulent behaviours 

The group also says FSRA should recommend to the Ministry of Finance, ways to modernize the Insurance Act and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule to deter fraudulent behaviours that drive up costs. They also think the regulator should do more to ensure that Ontarians have knowledge of and access to the General Insurance Ombudservice and that the ombudservice should periodically report dispute trends to FSRA. The panel also recommends that FSRA strengthen its existing dispute resolution processes to divert more cases away from the court system.  

In looking at innovation, the panel suggests FSRA regularly review and identify best practices for auto insurance innovation from around the world and work with the Ministry of Finance to make it easier for new insurance companies to enter the Ontario market.  

Consumer education needs 

The report also addresses claims and the claims process, premiums, how they’re calculated and how such calculations should be presented to consumers, consumer education needs, policy documentation standards and mechanisms for collecting consumer feedback. 

“The panel’s recommendations will inform how FSRA sets and delivers on its priorities related to auto insurance,” says FSRA’s executive vice president of auto and insurance products, Tim Bzowey. “We are grateful to our 36 volunteers who enthusiastically invested close to 1,000 hours.”