Ontario passes Bill 15, with focus on fighting fraud

Toronto, Ontario — November 24, 2014 — The Ontario government announced on November 20 the passing of a new auto insurance bill which it says will contribute towards protecting the province’s nine million licensed drivers.

“These important changes are the next step in our Cost and Rate Reduction Strategy. We’re building on earlier efforts to fight fraud and abuse, reduce costs and uncertainty and improve consumer protection,” Liberal Minister of Finance Charles Sousa stated in a release. “We’re working hard to help Ontario drivers save money on their auto insurance rates.”

Bill 15 — the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 — is intended to help fight fraud and consumer abuse by reducing rates for drivers, while also transforming the province’s auto insurance dispute resolution system to help settle claims faster.

The legislation is designed to provide consumers protection against towing and vehicle storage industries through the requirement for tow and storage providers to publicly make their rates available, accept alternate forms of payment — credit cards — beyond cash-only payments. Storage providers must now also provide itemized invoices listing all of the provided services and their costs, before demanding or receiving payment.

Ontario will also now have the authority to change the current 60-day period that a vehicle can be stored after an accident without the vehicle owner being notified.

“Passage of this new law is a big win for consumers. This act will deliver real results for Ontario drivers involved in traffic collisions or [those] in need of roadside assistance,” says David Orazietti, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, in a release. “Consumers should be confident that tow truck operators are reputable, properly trained and will treat them fairly. We want consumers to be protected, and we want to make our roads safer.”

The Ontario government originally announced its plan to reduce auto insurance rates for drivers by 15 percent in August 2013, to be attained over a two year period. Over a 12 month period ending in August 2014, the province has decreased rates by approximately six percent.

An independent third party, hired to assess the impacts of auto insurance reforms that have been introduced to date, recently delivered its 2014 Annual Report which states measures have been successful in decreasing consumer costs, however noting more action must be taken by the province if it is to meet its reduction target by 2015.

The Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 combines provisions from an earlier version of the bill proposed in March 2014, combined with components of the Roadside Assistance Protection Act, introduced in April 15, 2014.

To read Bill 15 in full, please visit Ontla.on.ca.

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