Last month, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) released a report produced by economist Dr. Fred Lazar of the York University Schulich School of Business on the state of auto insurance in Ontario. The report found that “drivers in this province have paid too much for auto insurance” and that “auto insurance companies in Ontario have had a free ride for many years.” The findings are disturbing, if not altogether surprising, for the province’s personal injury lawyers, whose clients have had access to fewer and fewer benefits despite regular premium increases.
The report estimates that drivers overpaid by between $7.6 billion and $12.7 billion from 2001 and 2018. The broad range is due to the fact that insurers are not required to make public their profits from the Ontario auto insurance business.
“As Ontarians, we’re not given that information but we’re asked to pay more,” Lazar told the Toronto Star in an interview. “There should be greater transparency. That begins with public discourse.”
In 2016, former premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government implemented sweeping changes to the province’s auto insurance system in an effort to reduce premiums. Coverage for non-catastrophic injuries was reduced from a maximum of $86,000 to $65,000, and coverage for catastrophic injuries was halved from $2 million to $1 million.
Premiums increased 2.4 per cent between 2010 and 2018, even while the average number of claims per vehicle fell by 10 per cent. The deductible for pain and suffering damages in motor vehicle claims also increased during the study period, doubling to $30,000 in 2003 and jumping 22 per cent to $36,540 in 2015, according to the Toronto Sun. Today, it is $39,556.53 for damages below $131,854.01.
In other words, Ontario drivers are paying more money for weaker coverage than ever before.
“Under the previous Ontario government, benefits were cut 17 times,” said OTLA president Allen Wynperle in a release. “It was supposed to reduce premiums, but premiums have not gone down. And now, the regulator has approved the ninth consecutive increase totalling 20% over the last three years. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Personal injury lawyers in Ontario see the effects of the province’s broken insurance system every day. When clients pay so much in premiums, it is difficult to explain why the available accident benefits are often insufficient to cover recovery expenses.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team will assess your case, explain your options, and provide legal representation throughout the claims process.