November 10, 2010, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
As reported in Canadian Insurance
FSCO CEO details time lines and goals for next round of auto reform
Minor Injury Treatment Protocol and Catastrophic Impairment definition priorities for further reform
The reforms to the Ontario auto insurance product implemented on September 1st are only the first phase of a longer term project. Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) CEO Philip Howell delivered that reminder to a group of insurers during a luncheon address at the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) Regulatory Affairs Symposium in Toronto on November 4.
During his address, Howell laid out time lines for two important priorities for the regulator: developing a treatment protocol for minor injuries, and a review of the catastrophic impairment definition found in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).
The goal of the minor injury treatment protocol will be “to develop a broad continuum of care for minor injuries that is evidence based and reflects current scientific and medical best practice,” said Howell. The protocol is expected to take three years to develop and is intended to replace the current Minor Injury Guideline that was introduced in the September 1st reforms.
As for the review the catastrophic impairment definition, Howell said that the regulator will be assembling a panel of medical experts and that the announcement of the appointment of the panel chair will be made in the near future.
“Once the definition is developed, the panel will also propose required qualifications for assessors making assessments of catastrophic injury,” he said. The time line for the project is four to six months and will include a consultation process with stakeholders with a focus on scientific evidence.
In announcing the cat impairment definition review, Howell acknowledged a recent Ontario Superior Court decision, Kusnierz v. Economical, that stated physical and psychological impairments cannot be combined to determine if a catastrophic impairment has taken place. The decision directly contradicts a previous ruling to the contrary in Desbiens v. Mordini.
“Although this decision may please companies, it does not eliminate the need to review the catastrophic impairment definition — because we now have at least two Superior Court decisions that disagree with each other on how to interpret the definition,” he said.
Howell also noted that most of the calls to FSCO’s contact centre about the September 1st reforms are coming from health care providers seeking clarification about what the new rules mean.
“I will say, however, that the industry–and I include the brokers here as well–really stepped up to be ready for September 1st,” he said.