Responding to the catastrophic impairment definition review

The long-anticipated expert panel report on the review of the definition of catastrophic impairment was finally released just past Friday (April 15, 2011) by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).

The report is available on FSCO’s website. Shortly following the release of the report, a group of OTLA board members and staff met over the weekend to review the content in some detail. While further review and analysis is needed, we have already identified significant concerns with the report including:

  • The recommendation that would disallow the combining of physical and psychological conditions for the determination of catastrophic impairment
  • The proposed elimination of the Glasgow Coma Scale
  • The proposed new designation of “interim” catastrophic impairment
  • The added burden on an already strained public health care system with the proposal that the designation of catastrophic impairment be dependent on hospital stays
  • The loss of 16 years of jurisprudence interpreting the current definition with the recommended removal of some criteria for catastrophic impairment and the addition of several others with language that has never been seen in any legislation.

OTLA will be working vigorously to respond to the report.

In fact, in advance of the report, OTLA sent a newsletter to every Member of Provincial Parliament to underscore our position and our concerns with regard to the review.

First, we wanted to remind MPPs that the review of auto insurance was still ongoing. We also wanted MPPs to be aware that the government is being asked to deal with a “problem” that nobody can say exists since the IBC and FSCO do not have any data available on the loss experience on catastrophic claims. Members will recall that we had challenged the IBC argument from the five-year review of auto insurance that the definition of catastrophic impairment needed to be restricted because claims were rising. IBC had responded that they do not have data in this area.

Lastly, insurer profitability had been on the rise before the significant coverage reductions, which generated huge cost savings for insurers, were introduced in September 2010. Even now, most existing auto policies have been in the transitional stage up to this point so the full impact of the changes won’t be known for some time. Let’s get a more complete picture on how the auto insurance system is performing over time before even thinking about further auto policy restrictions.

Given the reductions in AB coverage last fall, we feel that the definition should actually be expanded. In the end, this is a policy decision, not a medical issue.

We have also challenged the insurance industry statements in the media. Just this past Sunday, our position on this review was published on the Toronto Star’s website and a brief mention of article was also included in the printed paper.

Our final report, which we will post on our website, will be submitted to FSCO by Friday, May 13, 2011.