Ontario changing auto insurance system; aiming to tackle fraud, lower rates

Ontario is making changes to the auto insurance industry to try to combat fraud and reduce rates for drivers.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the cost of auto insurance fraud is estimated to be as high as $1.6 billion a year and it's time to stop it.

He says the government will develop standard treatment plans for common collision injuries such as sprains and whiplash, create independent and neutral examination centres to provide medical assessments for more serious injuries, and establish a Serious Fraud Office to tackle fraud in the system.

A government-commissioned report earlier this year found that Ontario has the most expensive auto insurance premiums in Canada despite also having one of the lowest levels of accidents and fatalities.

Ontario's announcement today comes as the Liberal government is still trying to fulfil a promise to reduce rates by 15 per cent on average from 2013 levels _ rates have now decreased on average by about eight per cent since then.

The government missed its self-imposed deadline of August 2015 to hit that target and Premier Kathleen Wynne has admitted that was a ``stretch goal.''