Final review of Ontario auto dispute resolution system released with 28 recommendations


The final report including recommendations for improving Ontario’s dispute resolution system from auto insurance has been issued, following multiple consultations with stakeholders.

The review of the DRS was delivered to the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday by J. Douglas Cunningham, a former associate chief justice at the Ontario Superior Court. Last November, Cunningham issued his interim report, and then received input from 35 stakeholders.

Among the 28 recommendations included in the report, Cunningham suggested a “public sector administrative tribunal” for dealing with disputes arising from the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule in the Insurance Act.

That tribunal wouldn’t necessarily have to new new, but could be incorporated into an existing tribunal, according to the report. The new model would fall under a minister, rather than the superintendent of financial services, the recommendation also notes.

Several adjudicative tribunals in various sectors, including environment and social justice, have also recently been moved under the Ministry of the Attorney General, Cunningham noted.

“Under my proposed model, the new tribunal and the adjudicative staff would be better positioned to maintain their independence and neutrality while maintaining much of the existing expertise and experience,” he wrote.

“I see the tribunal primarily being funded by application fees, with the possibility of a portion of funding coming from insurance industry assessments.”

Cunningham also recommended establishing tendered contracts with one or more private-sector dispute resolution service providers to account for changes in demand for services.

The report also recommends that mediation services remain mandatory, but be part of a “settlement meeting conducted by an arbitrator,” to take place within 45 days of an application being accepted by the tribunal’s registrar.

The final report also recommends that insurers set up internal review processes and be required to inform claimants how to access it after benefits have been denied.

Insurers would be able to establish how their company’s review process works, but would be required to provide a written response including the outcome of their review and reasons for denial within 30 days of a claimant’s request, according to the report.

“Our government will carefully review the final report and, where appropriate, introduce legislation based on the recommendations,” Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance in Ontario said in a statement.

The DRS review was part of the government’s overall plan to reduce auto insurance rates in the province.

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