Immigrant Drivers In Ontario Being Discriminated Against By Auto Insurers


TORONTO – While the issue of fraud in the automobile insurance sector driving up premiums is complicated by many conflicting claims made by various stakeholders, one is that of latent discrimination against immigrant newcomers.

In recent months, there is the issue of accident victims, particularly ones with serious injuries, who feel their medical professionals’ requests for legitimate treatment are being denied or stalled by insurers – who just deny all the claims and see if there’s any pushback.

“It’s a very common problem,” says Dr Donna Ouchterlony, director of the head injury clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital that sees 3,000 patients annually. “We decide what we need for our patients and write treatment plans. They’re frequently denied, particularly for immigrant, non-powerful people who can’t afford good lawyers.”

It has been worse since insurance reforms took effect in September 2010 reducing accident benefit levels for various categories of injuries with the goal of keeping premiums down, she said.

“They just deny everything and wait to see what’s going to happen. They wait to see if people fight back, ” Ouchterlony added.

So while it’s doubtless the case that auto fraud is bilking the system, on the other hand the system too is trying to protect itself – by, unfortunately, denying payouts to “immigrant, non-powerful people who can’t afford good lawyers”.