Loss of cash settlements in auto insurance claims of concern to Law Times’ readers

More than 79 per cent of readers agreed with critics of the policy

Loss of cash settlements in auto insurance claims of concern to Law Times’ readers

A poll of Law Times’ readers echoed recent criticisms about Ontario’s auto insurance proposal. 

Earlier this month, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations and the Toronto Lawyers Association made submissions to the provincial government about proposed changes to auto insurance laws, questioning whether the policies could achieve the goal of reducing premiums. The so-called “Care, Not Cash model” could pose access to justice issues, amid exclusion of cash settlements and cost recovery at the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

More than 79 per cent of readers polled said they agreed with critics who said that the loss of cash settlements could make it hard for clients and lawyers to pay for services without a contingency fee. 

The remainder of respondents — nearly 21 per cent — said in the poll that the policy will reduce fraud related to cash settlements. 

Margaret Waddell, a partner at Waddell Phillips PC and president of the TLA, spoke to Law Times about the proposed policies after the TLA made its submission.  

“Of particular concern to the TLA was taking away the ability to receive a cash payment. That really does hamstring individuals’ ability to retain counsel to advocate for them — to get the best deal they can,” Waddell said. “If you take that away and there aren’t cash payments, you are really taking away access to justice for individuals who have been injured because they won’t be able to afford, on their own, to retain a lawyer.”

The TLA said it supported some aspects of the government’s plan — such as reinstating the $2 million benefit limit for catastrophic car crash injuries, allowing recipients to decide how to split the money between medical, rehab and attendant costs. But like FOLA, the government’s plan also raised concerns for the TLA, both on the plaintiff’s and defence side of the bar.

“It really does increase administrative burdens for the insurers because they have to now look at every single receipt for every single physio appointment for however many years — rather than offloading that administrative burden by making a cash settlement and letting the insured person use the funds as they best see fit,” says Waddell. “That drives up premiums.”

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