Car crash victims deserve better deal

Ontario’s car insurance system seems to work well except for consumers who need it and accident victims who make legitimate claims under it.

After all, the insurance industry is making good money.

Lawyers are amply rewarded acting for plaintiffs and insurance firms.

Doctors earn significant sums preparing insurer-requested medical reports.

Treatment providers receive good compensation for treating the injured.

Premier Kathleen Wynne received generous financial support from the car insurance industry when she ran for the Liberal leadership.

The Liberal party receives significant campaign donations from it.

But here’s the problem. Two problems, actually.

The first is fraud by people trying to rip off insurance companies with phony claims. We agree it happens and it’s a serious problem.

But what we don’t understand is why the amount of fraud — to hear it from the insurance companies — never, ever, seems to decrease.

Fraud, we’re told, is the main reason auto insurance premiums in Ontario remain stubbornly high, no matter how many times the government cuts back benefits to all accident victims at the behest of the insurance industry, as it did again in its latest budget passed last week.

We also think there’s another kind of fraud in the insurance industry that needs to be addressed by government.

That fraud happens when people who have faithfully paid their auto insurance premiums year after year are hurt in serious accidents and, when they make legitimate claims for the benefits promised in their policies, are denied them.

It happens when car insurers fight against paying genuine claims from accident victims, falsely making them out to be the enemy and going to absurd lengths in and out of court to deny them the benefits to which they are entitled.

Last week, hundreds of demonstrators at Queen’s Park protested this kind of fraud as the Liberals passed yet another piece of legislation favoured by the insurance industry that will cut in half benefits for people who sustain catastrophic, life-changing injuries in car accidents.

Prior to the passage of the budget, Finance Minister Charles Sousa boasted, “Ontario is the most generous in Canada when it comes to providing coverage for auto insurance.”

Last week, Sun legal affairs analyst Alan Shanoff, demonstrated conclusively in his column how this statement was inaccurate.

In fact, Ontario doesn’t provide the most generous benefits for either catastrophic injuries or for so-called “minor” ones, which can include dislocation of joints, partial tears of tendons and ligaments and whiplash not exhibiting neurological symptoms.

As the FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform put it: “The budget does nothing to ensure that insurer claims management practices are fair and there has been no action (to deal with) … the biased and corrupt insurer medical examination reports that are disqualifying innocent and legitimate accident victims.”

We agree. It’s time to end this type of insurance fraud, as well.

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