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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  • insBlogs Auto

    What’s Happening With B.C. Auto Insurance?

    January 20, 2019 by

    Some of my Ontario readers might be wondering what is happening in B.C. and their auto insurance reforms.When the NDP government was formed, they inherited quite a mess. Auti insuracne costs were rising rapidly and rates increases had not kept up. The …

  • insBlogs Auto

    Ontario Auto Insurance Topics

    January 9, 2019 by

    It’s been a long time since I last posted on this blog, but to be honest not much has happened with respect to Ontario Auto Insurance.Last spring I wrote about the factors that were actually driving up the cost of auto insurance i.e., distracted d…

  • insBlogs Auto

    What’s Driving Up Ontario Auto Insurance Rates?

    March 19, 2018 by

    Since becoming Premier, Kathleen Wynne focus on the auto insurance file has been to bring down rates. The government originally set a rate reduction target of 15%. After several years, the target was quietly abandoned. The government has done a lot of …

  • insBlogs Auto

    We’ve Been Down This Road Before

    January 22, 2018 by

    Once again, Ontario has announced another package of auto insurance reforms. With a provincial election just months away, the Ontario government recently announced yet another plan to make auto insurance affordable for Ontario drivers. The plan is focu…

  • insBlogs Auto

    David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered.

    December 6, 2017 by
    Back in April, David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered was submitted to the Minister of Finance. What followed was a consultation process, in which that I participated. On December 5, 2017, the government announced their plan to address fraud and high premiums. I was relieved to see that Marshall’s recommendation to create an independent evaluation centre network in public hospitals was abandoned. This is an op-ed piece I wrote, which was published in the Toronto Star in October that dealt with this specific issue.

    Ontario’s crowded hospitals don’t need even more exams

    Attempts by the province of Ontario to fix auto insurance could well end up causing more harm than good to the health care system.
    Now, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. And that’s nobody’s intention. But we’d all have to live with the result.
    Here’s how we got here: The provincial government is considering a round of reforms for auto insurance in Ontario, unfortunately without basing those decisions on decent data, evidence or analysis. If adopted, the end result is going to send more people, not fewer, to hospitals, and all at a time when overcrowding is already at crisis levels in the province.
    We didn’t start out with a flawed system. Most people would agree that the introduction of no-fault auto insurance in Ontario was the right thing to do. Ontario drivers deserve an affordable system that provides coverage and protects accident victims and that’s what they got.
    It didn’t last. The insurance industry began to pressure government to make changes. Political pressure then led to successive governments adopting half-baked, knee-jerk solutions to auto-insurance delivery — anti-fraud measures were implemented, a licensing regime was created, a new dispute resolution system was put in place, basic accident benefit coverage was reduced.
    Since 2010, there have been more than 30 changes to auto insurance regulations, most, if not all, with the intention of lowering costs. Few people will suggest the system has actually been improved in that time.
    The government is now considering another round of reforms. This time it’s through David Marshall’s report on auto insurance, Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered.
    But these changes, if adopted, will be no more successful than the previous reforms. One of the most alarming is the suggestion that medical exams, when required after an accident — which are currently done in independent medical centres — should happen in hospitals.

    That is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s trying to fix one system while hurting a far more essential one. Current OHIP patients typically wait six to 30 months to see a specialist for an assessment. According to a recent story in the Toronto Star, it now takes 30.4 hours to be placed in an inpatient bed from the emergency department in the province. That’s the longest it’s ever been. There’s no way this helps with that problem.
    I had the lead in developing and introducing the system which saw independent medical assessments being done as part of auto insurance claims, back in 1994. In the beginning, some were conducted in hospitals.
    That didn’t last. While hospitals have different needs and resources, some could make better use of the space required, while others may not have had the patient volume to justify offering the assessments. Still more may have had trouble simply finding assessors. On the whole, hospitals decided on their own their resources were needed elsewhere. There’s no doubt that’s true.
    The other troubling recommendation the province is considering is a proposal to adopt a controversial Workplace Safety and Insurance Board model for auto insurance medical exams. The systems aren’t transferable. For example, the examiners in the WSIB system don’t appear as witnesses in disputes. But disputes are built into auto insurance claims. As a result, the proposed changes have the potential to add another layer of assessments and costs.
    Changes can and should be made to auto insurance in the province. It would be better for the province to focus on standards for those who conduct the independent examinations — something that has been recommended many times in the past. But that’s one change that’s never been made.
    The Marshall report indicates that this is “an opportunity to learn from past experience and fix the problems in the current auto insurance delivery system.”
    I don’t see that happening. Instead, I believe that implementing this report would repeat past errors. We’ve had enough of those already.
  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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).