Willie Handler

Willie Handler

Willie is operating a consulting practice following 33 years in various positions in the Ontario public service. During that time he has become one Ontario’s foremost expert on auto insurance having worked for 20 years on auto insurance regulatory policy for the Ontario government including 4 major reforms of the Ontario auto insurance system.

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  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    Ontario Auto Rates Steady In 2016 But Only After Benefit Cuts

    January 24, 2017 by

    FSCO’s latest quarterly rate approval numbers have been released and at least rates are holding steady for now. However, considering the statutory accident benefit cuts that became effective on June 1, 2016, consumers are getting less coverage but payi…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    It’s Time For The Insurance Industry To Be Serious About Optional SABS

    December 10, 2016 by

    This week I was speaking to my insurance agent who preparing my renewals. I was asking her about how the optional benefits have been impacted by the regulatory changes that became effective on June 1st. During the conversation it came out that she only…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    Ontario Auto Insurance Rates Are Heading Back Up

    October 18, 2016 by

    FSCO’s latest quarterly rate approval numbers have been released and the news is not good for consumers. Half the savings as a result of statutory accident benefit cuts that became effective on June 1 are already gone. FSCO approved 25 private pa…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    Early LAT Decisions Suggest Reforms May Be Working

    October 18, 2016 by

    Effective April 1, 2016, the Licence Appeal Tribunal began accepting applications to the new Automobile Accident Benefits Service (AABS) system with an aim to quickly resolve disagreements between individuals and insurance companies about statutory acc…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Uncategorized

    THE ROAD AHEAD Is Available

    September 22, 2016 by
    My book, TTheRoadAhead_FrontHE ROAD AHEAD, is now available to purchase. Paperback and Kindle versions are available at Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.
    A Kobo version is also available at Chapters.ca and Kobobooks.com.
    Paperback copies are also available at Ben McNally Books at 366 Bay Street, Toronto.
    “Politics has never been this much fun!”
    Rick Tompkins, a suburban Toronto insurance broker, never considered a career in politics until a good friend, who happens to be the leader of the Conservative party, asks him to run for office. He accepts the offer, with the understanding that he would probably not win, but can use the opportunity to gain some visibility for himself and his business. Jerry Switzer, a veteran party worker, is sent in to guide Rick through a campaign in a riding that hasn’t elected a Conservative in years. Rick fumbles his way through the election campaign and manages a surprise win but at the expense of saddling his party with an impossible commitment. What makes matters worse, Rick is anything but politically correct. He offends everyone in his path and stumbles from one political scandal to another. Still, Rick has one saving asset: a political party machine that is able to spin scandals to its advantage.
  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    Will The New Ontario Fleet Definition Work?

    August 21, 2016 by

    As I reported previously, the Ontario government amended the fleet definition in Regulation 664 in early July.  The amended definition reads as follows:

    “fleet” means a group of not fewer than five automobiles that meets the following requirements:
    1. At least five of the automobiles in the group are commercial vehicles, public vehicles or vehicles used for business purposes.
    2. The automobiles in the group are,
    i. under common ownership or management, and any automobiles in the group that are subject to a lease agreement for a period in excess of 30 days are leased to the same insured person, or
    ii. available for hire through a common online-enabled application or system for the pre-arrangement of transportation, and insured under a contract of automobile insurance in which the automobile owner or lessee, as the case may be, has coverage as an insured named in the contract

    From my perspective, this is not an ideal resolution. However, it does fill in the insurance gap that has existed since Uber began providing its services in Toronto in 2012. One of the most important elements in the fleet definition has always been the requirement that there be common management. Common management is an element that is required in order for a group of vehicles to be considered a fleet, if they are not commonly owned or where they are owned by a leasing company. It refers to the fact that the owner or manager has a measure of control over the vehicles. A fleet is typically a discrete risk exposure whose experience and characteristics can be monitored and rated, and is affected by the actions of the owner or manager. The vehicles in a fleet are not individually rated as this is inconsistent with a key principle in fleet rating to establish a rate specific to the experience of the fleet. Usually, the manager of a fleet will implement rigorous risk management programs to monitor and improve experience and rating.

    None of these circumstance remotely exist when it comes to Uber drivers and their vehicles. They are network of drivers connected to customers through an app provided by Uber. Their is no common ownership or management. It suggest that once an Uber driver turns on the app on his phone, he or she becomes part of a fleet. That decision isn’t even made by Uber.

    Is this such a bad thing? It could be if it leads to further erosion of the fleet definition. The regulator has for years denied fleet policies because they failed to meet the test of common ownership or management. Will they be able to continue to push back against synthetic fleets? It would have been better, if the government had created a provision in the Insurance Act to deal specifically with transportation network companies. I expect it will take some time to determine whether the government and the insurance industry will regret the newly amended fleet definition.

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    Ontario Auto Insurance Rates Remain Chronically High

    July 19, 2016 by

    FSCO’s latest quarterly rate approval numbers have been released and suggest that consumers will see very few savings the statutory accident benefit cuts that became effective on June 1.FSCO approved 14 private passenger automobile insurance rate filin…

  • Willie Handler

    New Ontario Towing and Storage Regulations Are Now In Effect

    July 8, 2016 by

    New regulations are now in effect if you repair, tow or store vehicles in Ontario. The new regulations under the Repair and Storage Liens Act took effect on July 1, 2016. Further regulations will come into force starting January 1, 2017. The follo…

  • Willie Handler

    Ontario Changes Fleet Definition To Accommodate Ride Sharing

    July 7, 2016 by

    This week, the Ontario amended Regulation 664 to expand the definition of a fleet to accommodate ride-sharing services like Uber. The change opens the door for insurers to offer policies to drivers of vehicles for hire using an online app.

    The regulation amendment expands the fleet definition to include vehicles available for hire through a common online-enabled application or system for the pre-arrangement of transportation. The vehicle owner or lessee is to be named  insured under an auto insurance contract. The regulation change will make it easier for Ontario businesses to insure a group of privately owned vehicles under one insurance policy as a “fleet” when they are available for hire using an online app.

    FSCO has already approved a fleet policy proposed by Intact Insurance Company. The Intact policy provides blanket fleet coverage under a standard automobile owner’s policy (OAP 1) for private passenger automobiles used in the transportation of paying passengers who utilize Uber.
    The Intact fleet policy does not provide coverage when the driver is not logged onto the Uber online app. Coverage under the personal owner’s policy for the automobile is applicable.

    FSCO also approved the use of an electronic insurance card for use in connection with ride sharing. The electronic insurance card will permit ride share drivers who are covered under the Intact policy the option to provide evidence of insurance electronically using an online-enabled app (e.g., to law enforcement officials).

  • Willie Handler

    FSCO Mandate Review Recommends Changes to Auto Insurance Regulation

    June 21, 2016 by

    The Ontario government should establish a new organization that would perform the functions currently performed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO), an expert advisory panel said in a report released Monday.

    The panel recommends that a new Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) be established, and it should exercise both prudential and market conduct functions.  The panel – comprised of George Cooke, James Daw and Lawrence Ritchie – made its recommendation to create FSRA in an interim report released in November, 2015. The final report, dated March 31, was made public Monday and contains 44 recommendations.

    The mandate review was partly made necessary with the transfer of responsibility for operating an auto insurance dispute resolution system from FSCO to Ministry of the Attorney General’s Licence Appeal Tribunal on April 1, 2016.

    Governance

    The report suggests that FSRA should consolidate functions, but it should have separate divisions for the regulation of market conduct; prudential oversight; and pension administration. These divisions of the regulator should operate in a coordinated manner, but each division should be insulated from the routine regulatory activities, pressures and resource demands of other divisions.

    FSRA should be a self-funded corporation without share capital, operationally independent of government, yet accountable to the Legislature through the Minister of Finance. The FSRA should be outside of the Ontario Public Service and be empowered to hire its personnel from outside of the Ontario Public Service’s collective agreements, compensation restraints, and other hiring restraints to support its ability to recruit professionals and industry expertise as it deems necessary.

    FSRA should have a skills-based Board of Directors appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Board would oversee FSRA’s operations and the Board should have the authority to appoint a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Board Chair should report directly to the Minister of Finance.

    FSRA’s Board should be given authority to make rules that would be enforceable pursuant to the statute, having a similar authority as Cabinet Regulations.

    Auto Insurance Rate Regulation

    The panel did not make any recommendations with respect to the prior approval of auto insurance. However, it did recommend that FSRA’s Board should be obliged and empowered to decide how auto insurance rates are to be regulated and make use of its rule-making authority to scope out a rate approval process.

    The view of the panel is that when it comes to the regulation of automobile insurance rates, FSCO is not ultimately protecting the public interest or enhancing confidence in the sector.

    Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund

    The panel recommends that responsibility for operating the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF) be transferred to the Facility Association (FA), a non-profit organization funded by automobile insurers in the provinces and territories that operate private insurance systems. This responsibility would fit well with the FA’s original purpose, which is to act as the ‘insurer of last resort’ for high-risk drivers. The FA already operates uninsured motorist funds similar to the MVACF in the Atlantic Provinces.

    Fraud Prevention

    The panel indicated that the new mandate should require FSRA to utilize its statutory authorities to adequately, firmly and consistently discourage fraudulent activities or behaviours that mislead or harm consumers and pension plan beneficiaries.

    FSRA should be directed to identify and seek to eliminate gaps in protection for consumers who might be defrauded by licensed sales agents, brokers and corporations. FSRA should also  have the authority to establish a fraud compensation fund such as exists in Quebec if or where enhancements to mandatory insurance coverage would not fully close current gaps.

    There is no word from the government on implementing the panel’s recommendations.

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto Business Risks

    Benefit Cuts Lead To Modest Rate Reductions

    April 26, 2016 by

    FSCO’s latest quarterly rate approval numbers have been released and suggest that some savings have been accrued from the statutory accident benefit cuts that become effective on June 1.FSCO approved 50 private passenger automobile insurance rate filin…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto

    LAT Will Not Be Following All of the Cunningham Recommendations

    March 18, 2016 by

    The Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) begins accepting applications to resolve auto insurance disputes on April 1, 2016.  LAT has completed a first round of recruitment for adjudicators and case management staff.  Adjudicators are Order-in-Counci…

  • Willie Handler
    insBlogs Auto Legal Technology

    Electronic Proof…Still Not in Canada

    February 19, 2016 by

    Three years ago, I wrote an article about the status of electronic insurance cards.  Despite the fact that smartphones, tablets and other technological gadgets are now part of everyday life, providing proof of auto insurance coverage is like a nos…

  • Willie Handler

    Ontario’s Failed Rate Reduction Strategy

    January 20, 2016 by

    The promise to reduce auto insurance premiums by 15% is a failure.  In August 2013 the Ontario government announced a two-year rate reduction strategy. What has ensued since that announcement has been a series of reforms to bring down the cost of …