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'Everyone is optimistic': Ontario's auto insurance changes should lower premiums: IBC

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2017/01/11: King's Highway 401, commonly referred to as Highway 401 is one of the busiest highways in Canada.  The image was taken at the height of Victoria Park Ave. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says the province's auto insurance changes are a win for consumers. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Ontario government’s multi-year plan to fix what it calls the “broken” auto insurance system should help reduce premiums for drivers, says the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

As part of its 2019 budget released Thursday, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government unveiled a blueprint to change Ontario’s auto insurance system. The strategy will focus on lowering costs, finding efficiencies, reducing regulations, increasing competition and fighting fraud, the government said.

While the budget was scant on some details about the blueprint, such as what regulations will be pulled back, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says the changes are a win for consumers.

“Everyone is optimistic. By making things simpler, reducing some of the red tape and regulations that right now add costs, it will definitely have an impact in helping reduce costs,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer relations at IBC.

“Like any business, if you can help reduce costs, the price that consumers have to pay – in this case, the premiums – should follow. If we’re able to address cost, consumers should see a change in their premiums for the better.”

The province says it will work with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSFRA) to overhaul the licensing system for health service providers in order to reduce regulatory burden and fraud in the auto insurance system. The government also plans on introducing a Driver Care Card, which it says will ensure claimants receive quick access to treatment and care by streamlining access to services.

Allowing electronic communications will also be a priority for the province – meaning that, soon, Ontario drivers will be able to get their pink proof of insurance slip via email.

“That’s ultimately going to help in terms of meeting customer needs,” Karageorgos said.

But don’t expect to see the system reformed immediately.

“The appears to be on the right path, recognizing that it’s a bit of a long path,” Karageorgos said.

“Auto insurance affects 10 million drivers in Ontario, so obviously it’s going to take some time.”

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