NDP’s insurance play lauded

Toronto Star, Reader’s Letters

Mar 7, 2013

Horwath’s insurance ultimatum, March 2

Hooray for Andrea Horwath, I hope she sticks to her guns. I was told by an insurance representative that Ontarians pay the highest auto insurance premiums in North America.

The insurance industry’s standard knee jerk response is to suggest that Ontarians are more fraudulent than drivers in any other jurisdiction. To which I say prove it. Let’s see the stats. Not just the $1.6 billion throw away figure that the Insurance Bureau of Canada uses when they are accusing Ontario motorists of being fraudsters. Let’s see the number of accidents, the dollar cost of those accidents, per numbers of vehicles, per mile driven, under similar conditions as drivers in Ontario face especially in winter in comparison to other jurisdictions including those with public insurance.

Then they can include average premiums paid, and average payout per accident before they start throwing around loaded words like fraud.

Mr. Kee holding Alberta up as an example is specious at best. More vehicles travel across the GTA in a day than probably exist in all of Alberta. Mr. Kee is right about one thing: the system is broken and the fix is public auto insurance, which is at least a third cheaper in every province where it exists than it is in Ontario.

Of course as Tom Walkom reported some time ago in the Star the NAFTA agreement prohibits any new public auto insurance scheme because the framers of NAFTA were all rabid “free marketeers” (except as we’ve learned time and again the free market isn’t free).

Is it possible that no one knows this better than the auto insurance companies in Ontario? Could it be that they know they have a captive market and they know they can put it to us with impunity?

Mr. Kee even suggests that auto insurance in Ontario is a money loser ($1.04 in payouts for every $1 in premiums), to which I say horse hockey. If that’s the case shouldn’t there be a steady parade of insurers going bankrupt or getting out of the business? That’s hardly the case.

In fact recent years have seen most of Canada’s biggest banks getting in the game and those guys smell money like flies smell horse manure. Which is exactly what Mr. Kee is spreading.

Gord Miller, Trenton

Auto insurance executives’ statement that high insurance rates are a result of insurance fraud is as valid as saying that the deterioration of health care doesn’t matter because it only affects the sick or that inadequate senior pensions aren’t important because they only affect the elderly.

Since the inception of no-fault auto insurance in 1990, if the truth be known, most people involved in minor accidents don’t put in claims for the fear of rate hikes. The rate of claims is also minute to the overall rate of insured drivers. As well, it doesn’t take much more that a traffic violation to qualify as a high risk driver.

The statement by Steve Kee that claims in Ontario are much greater than Alberta is an insult to Ontario drivers. Auto insurance is so lucrative that even without no fault the insurance companies never threated to get out of the business and driver’s in the provinces with provincial plans haven’t taken action to terminate their plans.

Kudos to Horwath for taking action against the exorbitant insurance premiums. Hopefully she have a little more resolve then her NDP predecessors.

Ben Barone, Barrie

Andrea Horvath wants the premier to cut auto premiums in the budget by 15 per cent or prepare for an election. How does this make sense from a social justice perspective? How does it make sense to call a $92 million election over benefiting drivers?

An across the board cut of insurance premiums is regressive, providing the biggest financial benefit to the owners of new luxury cars. There are lots of issues that the NDP could pull the plug on but this is not one of them. Save the $92 million and give it to those most in need.

Karen Somerville, Toronto

Are insurance rates set to fall? Dec. 17

This article by James Daw noted that the frequency and costs of claims has come down the tune of $1.6 billion. This is due to significant reductions in medical rehabilitative, housekeeping and attendant care benefits introduced in 2010.

Yet, insurers claim $1.6 billion in fraud and that “the system is broken.” This, of course is due to “nefarious” claimants, medical clinics and staged accidents.

The reality being all too frequently those who are injured in a motor vehicle accident have to fight to receive necessary medical care and benefits; as witnessed by the massive backlog of disputes and the costly need for mediation. I assume from the insurer accounting perspective, these claimants would fall into the fraud category.

It is interesting to note the Ontario Automobile Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force report noted allowing the “industry greater discretion to reject claims for rehabilitation treatment, assessments and income replacement resulted in legitimate claimants experiencing increased uncertainty and delay with respect to the processing of their claims.”

It appears only the NDP is standing up for the people of Ontario rather than being a mouthpiece for the insurance industry. I didn’t think it possible, but Ms Horwath has converted this former Conservative voter into a New Democrat.

Sunny Rathore, Kleinburg

Leave Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.