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Ontario Election 2014: The Car Insurance Issues

May 16, 2014
3 mins
A professional woman wearing a suit works on a tablet while sitting on a leather couch in downtown office

One of the provincial Liberal party's pledges to Ontario drivers is that they can expect a 15% reduction in auto insurance costs by 2015.

Let's qualify that a little bit. Expect 15% off on the average. Also, reductions will be on "approved" rates, meaning that it will take that much longer for the discounts to take effect, likely when renewal of the policy occurs.

And there you have it, an opening for the opposition to poke holes in your strategy. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party would ensure that insurance companies pass the rate reductions to motorists immediately, rather than the current delay of three to six months, but neglected to say how that would be achieved.

The Ministry of Finance has maintained that insurance rates have decreased nearly six percent since August 2013, will be 8% lower overall by August 2014 and reach the 15% discount target by August 2015. This could mean a savings of about $225 yearly to the average driver.

But to realistically achieve the 15% chop in rates requires the passing of Bill 171 (Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014), says the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Bill 171, introduced on March 4 by the Liberals before the June 12th election call, is tabled to revamp the dispute resolution system, make changes to towing, vehicle storage, and collision repair practices in addition to having an independent third party provide annual Auto Insurance Transparency and Accountability Expert Reports to see if the industry is operating effectively, dropping rates and passing on savings to drivers. The bill also encourages insurance companies to offer consumers usage-based insurance using telematics technology as a means to create discounts for safe driving habits.

The main thrust of the new bill, besides reducing insurance costs of course, is to put a dent in the $1.6 billion lost to fraud yearly. The government hopes to develop a dedicated investigation and prosecution office to combat the serious crime with vigorous enforcement, with an initial focus on auto insurance fraud.

For these changes to remain on track, the Ontario Liberals would need to win the election, and reintroduce the bill. Be prepared to cast your ballots on June 12th and hopefully get set to save on car insurance premiums down the road.

Cliff Boodoosingh

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