Recently, the Ontario Government passed Bill 15. It is titled - Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates. While the Bill may have some positive aspects for the public, the Government has once again further reduced the rights of accident victims.
The Bill eliminates the right of a victim to sue their insurance company when the insurer improperly denies payment of a benefit. Instead, an accident victim is now forced to make an application for Arbitration through the License Appeal Tribunal. Prior to this change, people could choose to either apply for Arbitration, or bring a Court action, to recover these improperly denied benefits. Victims no longer have the option to ask for a jury of their peers, or an experienced Judge, to hear their case.
The Bill also reduces the rate of pre-judgement interest a motor vehicle accident victim receives on their claim for general damages (i.e. an award for pain and suffering). The interest rate paid on damages for pain and suffering prior to this Bill was 5% per year. The rate has now been reduced to only 1.3% per year. This change will act as a deterrent for insurance companies to settle claims in a timely manner, because they earn more on their investments than 1.3% per year. Insurance companies will actually make more money for every day that they delay a settlement. It will reduce the value of the claims of innocent accident victims.
Do these new provisions fight fraud as suggested in the Bill’s title? We question why accident victims should lose more rights and receive lower compensation in the face of automobile insurers’ increasing profit. At Howie Sacks & Henry we pledge to continue our battle to enact laws to ensure fair compensation for accident victims. We are on your side. You can do your part and voice your concerns by contacting your MPP and demanding fair treatment for accident victims.