This update is designed to provide information on the purpose, structure and process of the Minister's Committee on the Designated Assessment Centre System (hereafter referred to as the "DAC Committee").
What is the mandate of the DAC Committee?
The DAC Committee was established under the
Insurance Act as part of the implementation of the
Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act (Bill 59). The DAC Committee operates on the principle that Designated Assessment Centres (DACs) are an integral component of the alternative dispute resolution process. To this end, DACs provide insurers and claimants with prompt, impartial assessments, which are consistent with best practices. By providing this information, DACs can be instrumental in facilitating the resolution of disputes between insurers and claimants over disability, treatment, attendant care needs, identification of catastrophic impairment, or the determination of residual earning capacity, without the need for mediation or arbitration.
The DAC Committee has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all DACs meet this mandate and provide these opinions in a fair and cost-effective manner that will also meet
Bill 59's goal of stabilizing insurance rates for all automobile drivers in Ontario.
How were members of the DAC Committee selected?
DAC Committee members were appointed by the Minister of Finance. The intent was to balance membership with a cross-section of knowledge, experience and perspective across stakeholders. As a result, the interests of consumers, health care providers, the legal profession and insurers are represented. In addition, a representative from the Association of Designated Assessment Centres (ADAC) participates on the DAC Committee in an ex-officio capacity.
The DAC Committee structure reflects a composite view of stakeholders who interact with the DAC system. Although individuals serving on the DAC Committee come from different stakeholder groups and bring their own expertise and views to the table, the DAC Committee's intent is to work together as a group.
DAC Committee members' first allegiance is to the mandate of the DAC Committee and it is expected that members will draw upon their collective experiences in order to improve the DAC system. Individuals who sit on the DAC Committee are accountable to the DAC Committee as a whole and to the Minister. DAC Committee activities are coordinated by the DAC Committee Chair and Vice-Chair.
Who are the members of the DAC Committee?
The members and their affiliations are as follows:
- Phyllis Smith (Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped)
- John Watkin (Citizen's Forum Advocating Insurance Review)
Health Care Providers
- Dr. Harold Becker (medicine)
- Maureen Dwight (physiotherapy)
- Dr. Ronald Kaplan (psychology) -
- Dr. Bruce Makos (chiropractic)
- Liz Mullan (occupational therapy)
- Joanne Wilk (speech-language pathology & audiology)
- Philippa Samworth
- Stephen Firestone
- Judy Maddocks - Chair
- Greg Somerville
- Stephen Whitelaw
ADAC (Ex-officio Member)
How has the DAC Committee structured itself to meet its mandate?
The DAC Committee has formed three main subcommittees: Operations, Development And Evaluation and Communications.
The Operations subcommittee provides support for day-to-day issues facing the DACs. The Development And Evaluation subcommittee deals with long-term systemic DAC issues. The Communications subcommittee deals with issues of introducing guidelines, distributing information, training and education, as well as stakeholder consultation.
Operations subcommittee carries out effective problem solving of day-to-day issues including: DAC guideline and protocol compliance, data collection, and complaints about individual DACs. Ontario Insurance Commission (OIC) staff implement the recommendations made by this subcommittee once approved by the DAC Committee.
As a first step to increase the efficiency of the DAC system, the Operations subcommittee has recommended the introduction of mandatory electronic reporting for all DACs. This recommendation was supported by the DAC Committee. As a result of this decision, it is expected that all DACs will be on-line with the OIC by April 1, 1998. Additional information will be sent to the DACs about this initiative by the end of December 1997. For more information on the conversion to electronic reporting, contact Tony Toy of the Accident Benefits Analysis Unit at (416) 590-7257.
The Operations subcommittee intends to review the current DAC complaint process and make recommendations to improve its efficiency and effectiveness for all stakeholders. In addition to responding to day-to-day issues, the Operations subcommittee will make recommendations on how to implement the approved guidelines and protocols produced by the Development And Evaluation subcommittee.
Development And Evaluation subcommittee deals with the long-tem objective of improving the overall effectiveness of the DAC system. This includes ensuring all DACs provide prompt, impartial assessments which are consistent with best practices and facilitate the early settlement of disputes between claimants and insurers. Three working groups have been established to achieve this objective: General Guidelines, Existing Protocols, and New Protocols.
The General Guidelines Working Group is reviewing guidelines common to all DACs including: the glossary of terms; confidentiality; conflicts of interest; use of surveillance in DAC assessments; procedure for filing changes in location ownership and staffing; advertising; general reporting requirements; etc. The target for completion is Spring 1998.
The Existing Protocols Working Group will review existing DAC assessment protocols for Residual Earning Capacity, Catastrophic Impairment and Attendant Care. The interim Catastrophic Impairment assessment guideline is scheduled for release in December 1997. The release of a revised Residual Earning Capacity assessment protocol is scheduled for April 1998 and the Attendant Care assessment protocol in June 1998.
The New Protocols Working Group will create protocols for Disability and Medical/ Rehabilitation DAC assessments. The release of the Disability assessment protocol is scheduled for May 1998 and the Medical/ Rehabilitation assessment protocol in June 1998.
The DAC Committee has mandated that all protocols, existing and new, follow best practices, comply with the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule and provide efficient and effective assessments.
Communications subcommittee has been formed to provide support to the DAC Committee to introduce new and revised DAC guidelines and protocols, assist in organizing stakeholder consultation, as well as developing and distributing information/education materials regarding DACs.
The Communications subcommittee is currently developing information sheets on the various types of DACs, specifically targeted to those claimants who will be assessed by a DAC. It is expected that these information sheets will be available in January 1998. It will also produce future information updates, like this, on a bimonthly basis. In conjunction with the other subcommittees, the Communications subcommittee will organize stakeholder consultations beginning in early 1998. The purpose of these consultations will be to receive feedback on the DAC protocols as they are being developed or revised.
Stakeholder input is welcome at any time. Correspondence should be directed to the DAC Committee Chair, Ms. Judy Maddocks, c/o the Accident Benefits Analysis Unit, Ontario Insurance Commission, 5160 Yonge Street, North York ON, M2N 6L9.