Auto insurance mess hasn’t happened by accident

Government, doctors, lawyers, the industry all played part





It’s not easy achieving a perfect state of ineptitude where so many auto accident victims are maltreated by so many people and institutions. Doing so takes real effort.

Let’s start at the top with the lawmakers, the people who govern Ontario.

With the insurance industry’s lobbying efforts paying off, our lawmakers gutted no-fault benefits in 2010.

Medical and rehabilitation benefits for most victims injured in accidents saw the maximum reduced to $3,500.

That’s the lowest in the country.

For serious injuries the maximum was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

That’s not money going into accident victims’ pockets; it’s money used to pay for medical and rehabilitation treatments.

Never resting, our lawmakers are in the process of lowering the interest rate to 1.4% on money owed by insurance companies to accident victims.

That this might encourage insurance companies to hold onto victims’ money longer, earning higher investment returns on it, seems to have escaped the attention of our lawmakers.

But enough about them.

Lawyers have a role to play in our mess of a system.

Many lawyers take on cases they are ill-equipped to handle.

Perhaps they don’t have the time or the required skills.

Too many lawyers take on car accident cases and let them languish, not aggressively moving them along.

Some miss limitation periods resulting in lawsuits being dismissed for tardiness or delay.

Some don’t prepare their clients adequately for examinations for discovery or prepare themselves adequately for mediations.

Too many don’t take basic steps to examine or question the qualifications or expertise of expert witnesses hired by insurance companies or defence lawyers.

Speaking of defence/insurer expert witnesses, too many health care professionals sell their souls to insurance companies, providing them with biased opinions used by insurance companies to deny or delay legitimate accident claims.

What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

But we have regulators to ensure the system works, don’t we?

Heath care regulators such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) don’t adequately control members who commit misconduct while churning out “expert” reports for insurance companies.

And when the CPSO decides to warn physicians about their inadequacies in assessing accident victims, they do so privately.

Then there is the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) which regulates Ontario’s insurance industry.

Their arbitrators do an excellent job providing justice in individual cases where accident victims force their insurers to arbitration.

But what has FSCO ever done in an attempt to curtail industry abuses?

Of course, I couldn’t leave this topic without mentioning the insurance industry itself.

Through its lobby arm, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the industry never misses an opportunity to remind the public and lawmakers about the massive fraud being engineered by accident victims.

Never mind that estimates for fraud never seem to budge or that the job of clamping down on fraud should be that of the industry.

Never mind that the fraud engineered by organized crime or crime rings with staged accidents has nothing to do with legitimate accident victims.

The industry continues marching to its own beat, continuously pushing lawmakers to reform the law to benefit insurance companies, to the detriment of accident victims.


Leave Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.