When will insurers give people a break?
The COVID-19 emergency has created great stress for millions of Canadians, who have been thrown out of work, can’t pay their rent etc. As restaurants are closed for in-house customers, many have taken to offer take-out and delivery using the services of Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats. This provides a means of many unemployed people to earn some money by working for these delivery companies. But as CBC reports, the insurance companies of these folks are likely to deny coverage for any claims under a provision in the standard policy that prohibits using your car for commercial or income-earning purposes. One fellow was quoted over $10,000 just to get a policy so he could make a few bucks and protect himself. While the government recently amended the law to allow insurers to offer premium rebates or discounts, not all insurers have shown the good community spirit to offer them. Considering the number of claims has dropped dramatically as people are not out and about driving, insurers who don’t accommodate their customers are making money off the virus. Shameful.
The Great Auto Insurance Rip-Off
February 13, 2020 – A recent economist expert report has concluded that Ontario residents have been overcharged by amounts that total in the billions of dollars over the past many years, while governments have turned a blind eye.
Insurance companies are not obligated to disclose their profits from auto insurance but you can be certain that none of them are hurting, or they would have long ago left the market. Yet governments continually cave into the insurance industry pleas to raise rates without providing proof to the public that such rate increases are necessary.
OTLA president Allen Wynperle points out in this article out that the previous Liberal government has cut benefits 17 times, and the number of claims have decreased, yet rates continue to go up. As former presidential candidate Andrew Yang would say – “do the math”.
The article points out another issue – the HST that health care providers must charge on treatment costs – where some insurance companies completely ignore the law and take the HST out of the policy limits that are meant to pay for treatment. Total losses to individuals totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Even when there is a law in favour of consumers, some insurers ignore it knowing the government won’t take any serious action to enforce it. There is a class action pending but as we know, these can take many years with uncertainty about the results.
When will the government stand up for the people instead of big insurance companies? Doug Ford, are you there? Hello?
B.C. tears down auto insurance system
February 7, 2020 – British Columbia, which for years managed a non-profit government run auto insurance company that allowed residents to sue for their full losses because of injury, has just announced changes that would virtually eliminate the right to sue negligent drivers, in favour of a “no-fault” benefit system. Victims will depend on the good faith of government insurance adjusters which we have seen is a complete illusion. No legal costs will be payable (as in Ontario’s no-fault system) which will mean people will not be able to afford help to navigate the undoubted denials of their rights. Blaming lawyers is just a deflection from government mismanagement and the wholesale appropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars from the government insurance corporation by previous governments. In Ontario, we’ve seen how governments respond to complaints about rising insurance premiums [authorized by said governments] by cutting and cutting benefits available to the injured until there is almost nothing left. See B.C. plans here. British Columbia managed to run its system effectively for decades – there is no reason it could not continue in that way, other than government interference and using the corporation as a source of funds for things other than compensating innocent accident victims.
Justice Stolen – Government changes the rules
December 10, 2019 – The Doug Ford government, without public consultation, changed the rules on lawsuits against government action to virtually immunize itself from all kinds of negligence and misconduct. Even worse, it has created a law that does this retroactively – i.e. to cases it has already lost. Government bodies affect all aspects of our life and can sometimes create terrible situations against the most vulnerable. Seeking justice in the courts is – or was – a fundamental right against such wrongs, but no longer. Not in Doug “for the people” Ford’s Ontario. What people he is actually for remains a mystery.
Ontarians don’t support insurance restrictions on injured people
November 29, 2019 – A recent survey of Ontario residents regarding car insurance reveals important information that the government should take heed of. In particular, while just over half are aware that there is a deductible from compensation for pain and suffering, the vast majority believe it is under $10,000 – not close to the $40,000 that the previous Liberal government imposed, and which remains unchanged by the current government. Seventy five percent of people surveyed do not support deductibles from compensation for injured people – ordinary folks understand what is fair or unfair to their fellow residents. The “people” have spoken Doug Ford – are you listening?
Guaranteed Legal Aid? Guess again
October 31, 2019 – When the Ontario government under Doug Ford slashed legal aid funding by a huge amount, the outcry must have surprised Doug who promised in a radio interview that he would “guarantee” that anyone who needs legal aid would get it. What Mr. Ford failed to understand is that Legal Aid has a rules and protocols in place to determine who is eligible for legal aid for a particular matter. Calls that came in in response to the guarantee were shuffled off to the Attorney-General’s office, and likely many callers were ultimately denied legal aid. The drastic cuts to legal aid have had an enormous detrimental effect on the court system, and particularly on “the people” of the Province that Doug “For the people” Ford supposedly said he would fight for.
Court changes – Simplified Rules and Small Claims Court
Oct 24, 2019 – The Ontario government has just announced that as of January 1, 2020, the limit for claims to the Small Claims Court will increase to $35,000 from the current $25,000. While this is expected to provide some relief to the case loads of the higher courts, one wonders if they will increase the resources to the Small Claims courts to deal with an increased case load. More interestingly, as of January 1, 2020, the “simplified rules” limit in the Superior Court will double to $200,000 – and no juries will be allowed in most cases. There will be shorter timelines to complete the case, limited discovery, and trials are not to exceed 5 days. Many personal injury cases may be more economically feasible now, though full details of these rule changes are not yet known.
Golf or Development? Stay tuned
October 23, 2019 – This isn’t to do with personal injury, but with our office on the Oakville-Burlington border, and as someone who years ago watched Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino battle each other in the Canadian Open, we find this legal story very interesting. The Court of Appeal ruled today on the battle between Clublink – who own the famous Glen Abbey golf course, and the Town of Oakville over the future of the “historic club”. Clublink wants to replace the course with vast development of housing, condominiums and commercial businesses, and the Town tried to stop it by declaring Glen Abbey a “heritage” property. It is undoubtedly a beautiful course, providing golf fans with many memories over the years, but the land is undoubtedly worth more as a development than a golf club, located centrally in the Town. A judge quashed the bylaws thus allowing Clublink to proceed, but the Court of Appeal in a split decision seemed to uphold Oakville’s right to make the bylaws but felt it went too far in preventing Clublink from forcing it to operate a golf course. The dissenting judge would have upheld Oakville’s position entirely. Will this go to the Supreme Court of Canada? Stay tuned….
Legal profession challenges proposed insurance changes
September 23, 2019 – The Ontario government’s proposed changes to auto insurance are attracting mixed reviews from personal injury and insurance lawyers. Of particular concern is the plan to implement “care, not cash” in order to prevent injured persons from settling their claims with the accident benefit insurer. This idea arose in a review conducted by the former Liberal government by a fellow who ran the WSIB (which doesn’t settle cases), so was based on an unrealistic view of the dynamics between the insurance industry and the insured persons. The auto insurance system is far more adversarial than WSIB, and this proposed law interferes with a model that both sides prefer to work with. Hopefully the government will listen and drop this terrible idea.