Nova Scotia proposes changes to auto insurance
New rules would cover psychological problems and minor injuries
December 9, 2022, 11:00 am ASTLast Updated: December 9, 2022, 12:40 pm
Nova Scotia’s Department of Finance released proposed changes in a discussion paper Monday as part of its mandatory seven-year review of auto insurance in the province.
The proposed changes include reducing the cap on cash awards for minor injuries after a crash and expanding what is deemed a minor injury to include bruises, lacerations and abrasions that don’t result in serious impairment or permanent disfigurement.
The paper also suggested expanding coverage of minor injuries to include psychological impacts of the injuries.
David McCarron, Nova Scotia’s superintendent of insurance, says the province wants to know what to improve and what’s important for the average consumer.
“What we don’t see and what we can’t think of, that’s what we’re expecting to hear from the public and from stakeholders,” he said.
Nova Scotia Finance Minister Allan MacMaster spoke about the discussion paper after a cabinet meeting on Thursday. He said it’s important for the public to share their input.
“Then government can look at it and try to find a good balance between ensuring people who are injured have proper compensation, and that people who are trying to run an automobile in the province have an affordable way to do so,” he said.
He would not say whether the province needs changes to insurance in response to rising interest rates.
“Certainly the cap does affect people’s premiums,” he said.
Right now, of the five provinces with a cap on minor injury rewards, Nova Scotia has the highest at $9,300. The department suggests reducing that cap by up to $4,300.
Amanda Dean is the Atlantic vice-president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. IBC represents private home, car and business insurers.
Dean said the discussion paper is fantastic. “It is a very long time coming,” she said.
According to the discussion paper, in 2012 the Nova Scotia government mandated that auto insurance reviews happen every seven years.
In 2019 the government commissioned the industry to begin a study on claims that have already been settled.
However, Dean said by the time the data and analysis was delivered on March 6, 2020, the world was changing in response to the pandemic.
“So we are, as an industry, thrilled that this government is getting back to getting on top of this mandated auto insurance review … and very keen to participate and provide a submission by the deadline,” she said.
MacMaster said he only sees it as a discussion paper, not proposed changes, until everyone has had a chance to give their input.
The public has until Feb. 3 to tell the office of the superintendent of insurance what they think of the proposals. Then the office will look for trends in the feedback and draft recommendations to the government.
McCarron said the office will recommend changes it feels would improve access to care, affordability and accessibility.
After that, the government will review the recommendations and decide how it wants to respond. McCarron guessed that the process would finish around the end of 2023.
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