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September 14, 2018

The status of the David Marshall report and auto insurance reforms

2 min read


Many Ontario drivers have likely never heard of David Marshall. In 2016, the Minister of Finance appointed Mr. Marshall as an advisor to make recommendations on improving Ontario’s auto insurance system. Before his appointment, Marshall was the President and CEO of the Workplace Insurance and Safety Board (WSIB) where he oversaw a major overhaul of their system in order to address the government’s commitment to eliminate the Board’s unfunded liability.

Fourteen months after Marshall’s appointment, in April 2017, his report, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario was released. Marshall’s report made 35 recommendations. The following is an overview of his major observations and recommendations.

Marshall’s observations

  • The average premium paid by Ontario drivers is higher than in any other province.
  • Claims are more expensive and take longer to resolve.
  • There are a high proportion of disputed claims requiring independent medical exams (IMEs) and mediation/arbitration.

Marshall’s recommendations

  • Mr. Marshall rejected the option of introducing government-run insurance similar to what exists in Quebec and Manitoba.
  • The government should avoid further cuts or reductions to no-fault benefits.
  • The regulator should move forward on introducing programs of care (treatment guidelines) for the most common auto accident injuries.
  • The regulator should create a network of neutral Independent Examination Centres (IECs) in public hospitals to replace the current system of competing assessments carried out by insurance companies and accident victims’ treatment providers.
  • The regulator should establish fees for treatment providers that are comparable to fees paid by other bodies (such as the WSIB).
  • The government should ban the settlement of claims for cash except in cases where the accident victim’s injuries are catastrophic.
  • The government should restrict or ban lawyers from collecting referrals fees or billing clients based on a percentage of payments received from an insurance company.
  • The government should encourage insurance companies to introduce innovative pricing models and do away with the requirement that the regulator approve all rates before they can be used by an insurer.
  • A new, independent regulator with its own board of directors for automobile insurance should be established either as part of the new Financial Services Regulatory Authority or a new separate office specifically for auto insurance.
  • Insurance companies must change their role from managing costs to delivering care to their customers.

What’s happened to Marshall’s recommendations?

The previous government consulted the public on Marshall’s recommendations in the months following the release of his report. They discovered strong opposition from many groups and organizations except for the insurance industry. As a result, the government was reluctant to move ahead and adopt any of the recommendations. They newly-elected government has made no decisions related to the Marshall’s report, so reforms remain in limbo.

Why is there so much opposition to Marshall’s recommendations?

Some critics have complained that Mr. Marshall is trying to impose the WSIB system (a government-run insurance system) onto a system that is structured very differently. The Ontario auto insurance system is delivered by private insurers and is a mix of no-fault and law suits. Many people have suggested that you can’t superimpose the WSIB model without turning auto insurance into a government-run system.

2 people with opposing views

The strongest opposition was in response to the recommendation to create a network of neutral Independent Evaluation Centres. Many people pointed it that the government created a similar network that operated from 1994 to 2006, which ultimately failed. There was also concern about using resources at our public hospitals to conduct insurance medical exams.

A few stakeholders point out that, although some of Marshall’s recommendations have merit, they are not worth pursuing. Mr. Marshall’s report is too focused on problems in the past. Cost drivers in the system have changed and accident benefits reforms won’t address current critical issues. Insurance companies are filing for rate increases and the most common reasons for higher premiums are distracted driving, the cost of fixing cars (that are more and more loaded with expensive technology) and fraud. None of these issues were considered by David Marshall.

What’s your take on David Marshall’s report? Drop a comment below!

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    I think they need to tear up Ontario Auto regulation and start again. It is so incredibly confusing that I’m sure only a very small proportion of customers understand it. Would be far simpler if it were more of an open market to encourage competition and innovation whilst focusing more on underlying principals of how the insurer is treating its customers. Political interference in auto insurance (probably also driving wasted tax dollars to develop and ignore the Marshall report) also doesn’t help.

    Having been the recipient of WSIB in the past, the last was where I determined no matter what the injuries were I would NEVER again go through WSIB.

    Their system is incredibly flawed in that they don’t see you as an individual, they treat all back injuries the same. They insist on you seeing their choice of approved treating professionals even if you have an established treating relationship with the appropriate professional; Chiro, Physio or Massage therapists.

    They are not interested in you as to your individual responses to pain management, they are interested in getting you back to work as quick as possible, a time-frame set by them, not by the real-time recovery of the injured.

    They also make it impossible to take time off work, rather they insist that you do modified work. If you do not accept the offer of modification, they penalize the company you work for, costing them high amounts of dollars per hour. The company then puts pressure on you to return to work before you are fully healed up.

    Thus everyone is happy except the injured worker who has been pressured by both WSIB and their workplace!

    WSIB is a faulty system that should be reworked into a system that actually works for the people.

    Brenda – really interesting and sad to read of your experience with WSIB and this should also sound a loud warning to the proposal in the Marshall report. Based on your experience, there seems to be a really big risk that the auto insurance market will start treating people in the same way as they are treating the vehicles that are being repaired or replaced (body shop networks, approved parts, data based car valuation methods etc) and this cannot happen.

    On the other side of the coin, there’s a danger that with total freedom, there could be a free-for-all in the types, length and cost of various treatment methods – not to mention the ingress of businesses and professions that will profit from the flow of people into the market with lots of insurance dollars to spend. This approach ultimately brings a big cost burden to the industry which is then passed on to the customer and I’m not sure it really helps the patient either.

    I guess the solution might be somewhere in the middle – but above all, needs to recognize that the subjects are injured people, not vehicles. One size does not fit all, and people respond differently to different treatments – so I hope we eventually see a solution that recognizes this, whilst also bringing as much support infrastructure to those who are injured as possible.

    Hi Nick, thank you for your comments. They are certainly thought-provoking to say the least and I appreciate your perspectives.

    I recently wrote an article about the insurance industry, our government and justice which will be published on the FAIR (Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform) website tomorrow in their Blog.

    All in all, not only does WSIB need reform, our insurance/justice system needs reforming. Maybe we should make efforts to reform our government while we’re at it, they are the ones who approve through legislation the stuff that makes nightmares for us, the general public!!

    Is there any hope? I don’t know, but by going public about all these issues the public can be made aware and if we each do our little bit, perhaps reform can actually happen!

    Interesting… would love to read your article. I’ll try to find it tomorrow, but if not, any links you could post would be very helpful. I assume you are not alone in your WSIB experience but have never turned over that rock to find out. I would really hope that not everyone suffers as you did.

    All the best in your campaign! It’s going to take a big push for sure, and perhaps people like you should be heavily involved in whatever ends up being developed as part of the auto reform.

    Here’s the link to the Fair website, follow the links down the left side to their Blog and it should be posted tomorrow.

    If you go today you will find the article but it’s the original draft, ok but the corrected one will be posted tomorrow.

    My little attempt to educate the public and stir up more people to join in. Thank you for your comments and work to do the same 🙂

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