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Ontario’s Fair Auto Insurance Plan aims to provide the best auto insurance plan.
We all want the best auto insurance. Ontario is taking action to make auto insurance more affordable for the province’s almost 10 million drivers.
Since 2013, in an attempt to provide the best auto insurance, the government has introduced a number of reforms that have resulted in lower auto insurance rates. These include a mandatory discount for drivers
who use winter tires, helping people resolve disputes about benefits faster and clarifying towing and storage costs after an accident. With these measures in place, the average auto insurance rates are now 6.6 per cent lower than they were in 2013, but still not the best auto insurance.
The government understands that rates are still too high for many people and in order to provide the best auto insurance, we are now moving forward with a package of significant reforms to the system.
The Fair Auto Insurance Plan is based on recommendations made by David Marshall, Ontario’s advisor on auto insurance. In a report released in April 2017, he urged transformative changes aimed at improving the care received by people hurt in collisions, reducing disputes around diagnosis and treatment — and promoting innovation, competition, as well as, other steps to improve consumer protection.
Following consultations on Mr. Marshall’s proposals, Ontario is now implementing the following initiatives:
Standard Treatment Plans
Making sure people with the most common collision injuries receive the best auto insurance that is timely, appropriate, and effective treatment by developing and implementing standard treatment plans that focus on recovery, monitoring health outcomes and increasing awareness of the best treatment practices, including an increased emphasis on making sure victims receive the care they need. The first of these standard treatment plans will be developed by spring 2018. This is expected to reduce costs in the system by changing the emphasis from cash payouts.
Independent Examination Centres
Creating independent examination centres to provide assessments of serious auto collision injuries. This will help to resolve and reduce diagnosis disputes, to reduce system costs and to curb the inefficiencies stemming from those disputes. Included in this plan will be the development of standards for assessors to ensure that the opinions of neutral assessments are respected. This will go a long way in ensuring the best auto insurance plan
Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
Establishing an integrated and dedicated office, with representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of the Attorney General, that will support activities to combat auto insurance fraud in Ontario. Another great step to help ensure best auto insurance.
Risk Factor Review
Drivers pay different premiums based on a number of factors, including where they happen to live. The province has directed the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to review these factors to ensure that people in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfairly high rates. This review is expected to be completed by spring 2018.
Working with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the province will ensure that people who need the services of lawyers and paralegals are protected and understand the agreements that they are signing.
To support clients entering into contingency fee agreements, the Law Society of Upper Canada has approved the following changes that will:
- Introduce a mandatory standard contingency fee agreement
- Create a guide for the public, which contains information on consumer rights in relation to contingency fee agreements.
- Require legal professionals to publicly disclose the maximum contingency fee percentage they charge by practice area.
- Require lawyers and paralegals to report annually on their contingency fee practices.
Establishing a Strong, Independent Regulator
Modernizing the auto insurance rate approval process, reducing red tape and strengthening consumer protection through amendments to the Insurance Act will provide the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario with rule-making authority, thus enabling it to promptly and effectively respond to insurance market trends, facilitating industry innovation to benefit consumers.
The last thing you need is an accident in the US. March break is just around the corner and for those who are lucky enough to have a spring time getaway planned, this means you may be embarking on a family road trip or possibly flying to your southern destination. Whether driving in your own vehicle or picking up a rental at your destination, unfamiliar roads and a vehicle full of distractions can sometime be a hazard and vacations can be interrupted by accidents.
Dealing with collisions at home is never an easy task, but navigating the aftermath of an accident across the border can be overwhelming. Should you be involved in an accident in the US , you likely will have many questions about your insurance coverage. Fortunately, in most cases your Canadian insurance will cover you while you are driving in the United States, as long as the trip is only for a vacation and not a permanent move. Take some time to review your insurance policy before you head out and make sure that you are covered.
Rental car accident in the US
When renting a vehicle at your destination, your Canadian car insurance often covers the rental vehicle if you are involved in an accident in the US , but this coverage can vary depending on the specific car insurance policy. Some car insurance policies do not have the same range of coverage for an accident in the US that is available in Canada. Again, it is best to contact your insurance provider and confirm what coverage you have prior to renting.
At the rental counter, the agent will offer you an insurance package should be in an accident in the US . Make sure that you take time to read the fine print. Be sure of the that you understand the type of insurance you are purchasing. Each rental company offers different rental contracts and circumstances where coverage may be denied. Ask for help from the desk agent to explain anything that is not perfectly clear to you to avoid complications and out of pocket expenses in the event of an accident in the US.
Many credit card companies offer some form of rental car coverage. Again, it is best to fully understand what is offered by reading the benefits overview that came with the card. You can often find this online or by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card. Note that these credit cards often require that you pay for the rental car with the credit card itself. Your credit card company may actually provide other forms of travel insurance that you may have never expected; for example, insurance for the theft of personal items while on vacation outside of Canada.
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident in the United States driving your own car or driving a rental car, you should be aware that are some major differences between the Canadian and American insurance systems where policy minimums can leave drivers under insured and paying out of pocket for expenses. In this case, Canadians may be entitled to start a claim against their own insurance company for underinsured benefits (i.e. OPCF 44R coverage).
Accident outside of Canada
If you have been involved in an accident outside of Canada in your own vehicle or in a rental car, reach out to a Personal Injury Lawyer who can help you to pursue the underinsured benefits and navigate the legal system both at home and across the border.
Additional Insured coverage
What does it mean to be additional insured ? The law, like most things, can sometimes be ambiguous. Where some laws are straight forward and easily understood, others leave a great deal of room for interpretation. In the latter case, it is often left to the courts to interpret the law and set precedent. This has certainly been the case for Additional Insureds.
Additional Insured coverage occurs when one company engages in a business relationship with another company. Such relationships, while often beneficial, can sometime create the risk of lawsuits. An example of this would be a landlord hiring a contractor to shovel the snow from the walkways in the winter. Should a tenant of the building slip and fall on ice, that tenant could sue both the landlord and the contractor for damages.
As an Additional Insured, the contractor could request protection under the landlord’s general liability policy, but since the law has not been clear, these requests for defense have often been denied by insurance companies. The rationale being that there was a lack of clarity. The insurance company would say that contractor should have independent liability insurance of their own and, when cases like this came to court, the rulings on Additional Insureds have not been consistent.
A recent case, The Corporation of the City of Markham. v. Intact Insurance Company has done a lot to provide some clarity around Additional Insureds. In this slip-and-fall-case, the City of Markham and a contractor hired to keep the sidewalks clear of snow, both requested defense from the Intact Insurance Company. Intact took the position that Markham was not entitled to a defence and was not an additional insured for the purposes of this claim as it had failed to call out the contractor on the date of the incident. The Judge ruled that “The mere possibility that a claim falls within the policy triggers the duty to defend”, and that since the Plaintiff had alleged negligence on behalf of both the city and the contractor and that the city was a named additional insured, Intact could not opt out of defending the city. The judge further ruled that the city was entitled to appoint and instruct a counsel of its choice at Intact’s expense, as well as the past costs of defending the main action.
The court was very clear in the insurance company’s responsibility to provide a defense. Meaning that Intact Insurance would need to pay for separate counsel if the City of Markham did not believe that the one lawyer could effectively represent both parties.
Much of the confusion stems from a series of cases that were decided differently, in particular, the case of Atlific Hotels and Resorts Ltd. v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, 2009. At the time, a guest of the Deerhurst Resort slipped on an icy pathway and the Aviva insurance company refused to provide a defense to Deerhurst as an additional insured. The judge found that since there were different categories of negligence in this action and that only of the categories, snow and ice removal, fell within the coverage, the insurer only had to provide the contractor with a claim. However, the court ruled that Aviva had to provide the defence in part to Deerhurst, but it was appealed soon after because the parties felt the decision lacked clarity. The cases ended up being resolved before the appeal was heard and the clarity never came to be. Since the decision was not in line with previous decisions, there was confusion as to how to apply the law.
Although the Markahm v. Intact decision has shed some light on how insurance companies must interpret the additional insured’s clauses of their liability policies, we will have to wait for a new Ontario Court of Appeal decision to provide clearer instructions and guidance in this area of litigation law.
Ontario Court of Appeal Ruling
A Starbucks employee has landed in hot water in a lawsuit after a recent ruling of th
e Ontario Court of Appeal allowing a Brampton, Ontario teenager to proceed with her lawsuit against Starbucks, the store manager and the barista for negligence over a scalding incident that took place in 2015. In the suit, the Plaintiff alleges that the employee negligently poured hot water on her hands, causing impairment and permanent injuries.
Coffee chain lawsuits
While the latest scalding lawsuit against a coffee chain is not news, this decision is quite significant for Ontario workers and their employees. The decision makes it very clear that when someone is injured as a result of employee negligence, that employee can be held liable.
In the December 22, 208 ruling, the three-judge panel offered a ruling in the lawsuit that Starbucks and its employees, “failed to take re
asonable or any care at all to ensure that the Plaintiff would be reasonably safe while attending Starbucks,” and to “prevent injury… which they knew or ought to have known.” It stated further that Starbucks employed, “incompetent servants or agents and/or staff to ensure the safety of the Plaintiff,” and failed to “instruct properly… their employees in proper methods and procedures to be used to regulate water temperatures and handle hot beverages. “
This new ruling rejects an earlier agreement to strike the statement of claim against the barista and store manager. At that time, the lower court judge wrote, “The general rule remains that the employees are not liable for what they do within in the scope of their authority on behalf of their corporation.”
In the 2015 incident, The Plaintiff asked the barista to fill a baby bottle with warm water. According to the Plaintiff’s statement, the employee filled the bottle with scalding hot water and spilled water on her hands causing severe and permanent injuries.
It remains to be seen whether or not any judgement will be enforced against the employee herself since Starbucks is such a large corporation that was likely insured at the time of the alleged incident.
Lawsuits against coffee shops
Nonetheless, scalding suits continue to emerge; sometimes legitimate cases and sometime urban lore partly on account of the now famous 1994 case against McDonalds in New Mexico. The case, which was examined in a 2011 documentary, awarded a woman close to $3 million in damages after she spilled hot coffee on herself.
If you have been injured by the carelessness of a store employee or due to another person’s negligence, please take the time to call us to learn about your rights. We understand, we care and we are here to help.