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MEETING - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

10:00 a.m. - 12:00p.m.

ROOM 4C, 4th floor


Minutes of Meeting April 12, 2006


Attendees:


Insurer Representatives

FSCO-DRS

Mike DeLaHaye John Lobo
Mina Cosolo  Susan Sapin
Becky Cameron David Draper
Adam Fox  
Whitney Goodfellow  
James Kempf  
Betty Levinson  
Casandra Phillips  

Antoinette Johnsen

 

Mario Silvestre

 

Martine Vaz

 

Maria Joshua

 

Tom Walsh

 
Mary Wright  


The Dispute Resolution Group – Companies Forum includes representatives from auto insurance companies dealing with disputes before the Commission involving motor vehicle accident claims and Statutory Accident Benefits. It consults with the Dispute Resolution Group of Financial Services Commission of Ontario on issues relating to the dispute resolution system.


Opening


The meeting was called to order at 10:00 am on April 12, 2006.


1. Review and Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting – January 18, 2006.

The minutes of the last meeting were approved with the following change: The last sentence of paragraph 3 under “Opening,” regarding best practices where a claimant appears to abandon an Arbitration, was amended to read:  “This item was deferred and is an ongoing item.”


2. Matters arising from the minutes:


- None.


3. Automobile Insurance Reform:


- Nothing to report.


4. Mediation Statistics – John Lobo


  • Intake will be closely monitored over the next few months in anticipation of increased applications due to March 1/06 regulation changes.
  • Intake January to March 2006 is comparable to January to – March 2005.
  • Average processing time: Perfected to assigned is beginning to go up and is being monitored.
  • Administrative Closures: For March 2006, 79 out of 122 closures were as a result of no issues in dispute.
  • Mediation Results: full settlements up to 35% in March compared with , over 33% in February.

Arbitration Statistics – Susan Sapin


  • Arbitration Applications continue to increase, although not apparently due to March 1 changes as of yet.
  • The three newly hired arbitrators on one-year contracts (Stuart Mutch, Robert Bujold and Elizabeth Nastasi, all former FSCO mediators) will be conducting pre-hearings full time to reduce the backlog.

Appeals Statistics – David Draper


  • Not reviewed in detail; numbers remain low but steady. Susan agreed to see if Judicial Review chart could be e-mailed to the Chair.

5. DRS Operational Changes/Update: – Susan Sapin and John Lobo


  • Mediation is watching to see if its caseload changes as a result of the elimination of DACs and whether any procedural adjustments are required.

6. Website


  • Although the new search engine is better than the old one, it is harder to navigate through the website because there is so much material on it, and it takes more time to find things. The Bulletins are still hard to find.
  • Query whether Quick Links specifically for Insurers could be added.

7. Attendance of Adjusters at Pre-hearings


Adam Fox and Mina Cosolo raised the issue of FSCO arbitrators’ consistency of approach to physical attendance of insurance adjusters at pre-hearings. Although it was agreed each case turns on its own circumstances, insurers noted examples where adjusters participated in face-to-face pre-hearings by phone, and pointed out that due to tight deadlines and turn-around times under the new legislation, physical attendance at pre-hearings could be difficult. Susan agreed to bring these concerns regarding consistency of approach back to the arbitrators. 


8. Treatment Provider Acting as SABS rep


Martine Vaz raised this issue. John Lobo advised that where Mediation is aware that a treatment provider is acting as a SABS representative, a letter is sent pointing out that this is a conflict of interest. Although the SABS do not prevent a treatment provider from acting as a SABS rep, the person must disclose the conflict of interest to the Applicant, who must agree to be represented despite the conflict of interest. DRS can only take steps to ensure the conflict is disclosed to the Applicant.


The rules governing conflict of interest are contained in the Code of Conduct for SABS Representatives issued by the Superintendent of Insurance, and can be found on the FSCO website.  


Other examples of unprofessional behaviour by paralegals were brought forward, e.g. SABS representatives who turn off their fax machines or only accept documents 3 pages long, or submit multiple OCF 18’s or 22’s in an apparent attempt to make it difficult for insurers to meet the tight response deadlines.


David Draper reminded everyone that insurers have the right to complain about violations of the Code of Conduct by using the complaints process set out on FSCO’s website. 


9.  DRS Forms MS Word


Interest was expressed in obtaining unprotected versions of the new OCF forms to modify in-house. John Lobo advised that the new forms are Word-fillable and saveable, an improvement over the past, and that individual requests for unlocked versions of the forms should be addressed to FSCO’s Contact Centre (Lisa Roy at (416) 590-2028).

10. Other Business


Re: the signature and certification section at p. 5 of the Application for Mediation, Whitney Goodfellow pointed out that the language was confusing. John Lobo clarified that DRS treats non-lawyers supervised by a lawyer in the same manner as lawyers, and that the claimant was required to sign the form when represented by a SABS representative. 


It was suggested that a best practice for insurers would be to address all correspondence to the supervising lawyer in any event.


Next Meeting


  • June 21, 2006 at 10:00 am

Minutes by Susan Sapin