Accident victims’ advocate FAIR is a non-profit organization run by volunteers, including vehicle crash survivors

By Alan Shanoff ,Toronto Sun

First posted: Saturday, June 29, 2013 06:33 PM EDT

It’s time I introduced readers to the Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform, otherwise known as FAIR.

FAIR is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. They are either motor vehicle accident victims or family members of victims.

They advocate for change in the bizarre world of no-fault insurance, trying to achieve the near-impossible: Fair treatment for accident victims.

According to Rhona DesRoches, board chair, FAIR’s purpose is to hold insurance companies accountable for the insurance contracts they issue.

As FAIR points out on its website,, it advocates for “reforms to auto insurance legislation that will improve the way all Motor Vehicle Accident victims are treated and cared for under provincial insurance legislation.” FAIR provides a voice for the thousands of accident victims who have been unfairly treated by a system stacked against them, one that often doesn’t provide needed or timely rehabilitation coverage and benefits.

The insurance system starts off by providing an arbitrary maximum of $3,500 to pay for medical and rehabilitation benefits for what are deemed minor injuries.

But that includes fees for medical assessments and insurance companies have been cutting off treatment far below $3,500 in many cases.

If the insurance company doesn’t categorize the injuries as minor, there’s a more generous $50,000 in benefits available, but that’s a 50% reduction from the $100,000 available prior to September 2010.

Victims suffering from catastrophic impairment are entitled to up to $1 million in benefits, but only about 1% of accident victims qualify and there is an industry push to change the definition so that even fewer victims will qualify.

Regardless of the maximum amount of benefits, FAIR is pushing for reforms in how insurance companies assess and pay for injuries suffered by accident victims.

They describe a “broken system of independent medical examinations.” FAIR objects to the use of “partisan assessors” — so-called medical experts — earning substantial sums of money to provide “flawed, biased assessments.” These are used to “trivialize and minimize” serious injuries and justify the denial of benefits to pay for needed and timely medical and rehabilitation services.

As FAIR put its, “(f)ar too often the assessor provides an unqualified, biased or shoddy assessment that becomes part of a claimant’s medical file. Rehabilitation and benefits are often discontinued based on a flawed report and it can take years to have treatment and benefits reinstated.” FAIR backs up its accusations by citing on its website actual court and arbitration decisions where these “experts” and their assessments have been exposed.

FAIR argues that falsely deflating the value of a claim is just as serious as falsely inflating it and that both types of abuse should be sanctioned.

It wants to purge the system of “substandard, unqualified or flawed assessments” whether provided to insurance companies or plaintiffs’ lawyers.

FAIR says it’s “flawed, biased assessments” by insurance- friendly experts that form the basis for many of the accusations of fraud levelled against accident victims by the industry. This is then used to manufacture inflated fraud figures, part of the industry’s campaign to push for reduced benefits and increased insurance company profits.

FAIR argues the wrongful denial of legitimate insurance claims drives up premiums by encouraging expensive, protracted litigation, with high fees paid to an army of experts and lawyers on each side.

FAIR must be doing a good job. It’s getting under the skin of the insurance industry’s lobby group and has twice been invited to make presentations to government hearings on automobile insurance in Ontario, so that their members could hear the consumer perspective.

Take a look at FAIR’s website. You’ll be amazed at the prodigious amount of work, along with a wealth of information for accident victims, that a small group of volunteers has been able to compile on a shoe-string budget in just over two years.

Tammy Kirkwood
Vice Chair


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