Auto Insurance In Ontario: A Broken System.

by Kris Bonn
Broken cement illustrating the broken auto insurance system in Ontario

Two stories in the news last week highlight the broken nature of the automobile insurance system in Ontario.

The first story was about Intact Financial, the second largest provider of auto insurance in Ontario. Intact Financial reported an increase in operating income for Q4 in 2020 of 54 percent. This translates to a rise in operating income to the tune of $467 million. For the entire year of 2020, Intact reported profits of more than $1 billion – that is with a “B” as in billion.

That is a lot of money.

I have no problem with a business making money. The problem I have is how auto insurers, like Intact, treat those that are injured in car crashes and how the insurance industry cries poor to the government forcing them to slash benefits and impose limitations on those innocently injured in car collisions.

The burden of proof imposed on the victim of a collision by auto insurance providers is too heavy. 

Why do we need a deductible of almost $40,000 on pain and suffering damages for someone who is innocently injured in a car collision? The reasoning for bringing in the deductible in 1996 (which was, at the time, $15,000) was to weed out minor cases from the legal system. Supposedly, this was to save auto insurance companies money. In addition to the more than doubled deductible, there is also a statutory threshold before pain and suffering damages can even be paid. This means that before an innocently injured person can even be compensated for his or her pain and suffering from being hurt in a car collision, the person must prove with medical evidence that they suffered a serious, important and permanent injury.

If you have been injured in a car collision, but you can engage in daily activities despite the pain, you get nothing for your pain and suffering.

This is simply not fair or just. 

Auto insurance companies in Ontario are actively trying to deny claims.

The second story, reported on by the CBC, exposed the threat of surveillance faced by those who are injured in workplace incidents or from auto collisions. Private investigators are hired and paid by insurance providers to spy on those who have suffered injuries. For what reason? To deny more claims.

Surveillance is intrusive and demeaning. People who suffer from a head injury like a concussion or from chronic ligament pain are not bedridden. They can walk and shop for short periods of time. The problem for many injured people is that the symptoms and pain are cumulative. They cannot sustain the activity for the long periods of time that would be required to work. After all, what employer would hire someone who can work every other day? Or a person who can work for 4 hours a day and then needs a break? Surveillance does not and cannot capture the pain a person experiences with increased activities. The surveillance, thankfully, cannot show a person in their home after being out and laying on a couch or in bed to recover. This is why surveillance is unfair and demeaning. Yet, insurers across Canada spend millions of dollars on private investigators to try and deny claims.

Surveillance by insurance companies can have a significant mental and physical toll on those already suffering. Those under surveillance feel like they’re being treated as criminals and are worried about ever leaving their house. On the physical side, the threat of surveillance could make a person afraid to get outside and be as active as possible as recommended by their doctors, for fear that the activity will be misunderstood, misrepresented and used against them.

Ontarians are not being treated fairly or justly by the insurance industry. 

These two news stories expose the broken nature of the auto insurance industry here in Ontario. Companies are going out of their way to disallow claims and are putting profit ahead of dignity and justice for innocently injured parties.  It is time for a change. We need to fix the broken auto insurance system in Ontario.

Ontarians deserve an auto insurance system that is fair and reasonable; a system that does not punish those who are innocently injured in car collisions. Here is a thought: we propose that, rather than having the innocently injured person pay the $40,000 deductible, the person who caused the collision should have to pay it as a penalty for causing the crash in the first place. This would likely result in people taking more care when driving and reduce crashes and injuries.

If you have been injured and suspect that you are being followed, go and ask the person if he is following you for an insurance company. If you fear for your safety, call the police.

Together we can take positive steps to help change a broken system.

Kristian Bonn

Bonn Law