Companies Forum Minutes of Meeting - February 10, 2011

Attendees:     FSCO:
Mike De La Haye – (Wawanesa) – Chair Asfaw Seife
Whitney Goodfellow – Markel John Lobo
Maria Jolly- Unifund Tom Golfetto
Patrick Lau – Dominion    Elizabeth Nastasi
Maria Joshua – McLarens Canada Sivan Raz
 

Angela Marshall

 

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 the Financial Services Commission of Ontario on issues relating to the dispute resolution system.
 
Review and Approval of Previous Minutes – November 18, 2010
No amendments made.
 
Matters Arising from Minutes
None
 
FSCO Strategic Direction – Tom Golfetto/John Lobo
Tom Golfetto, Executive Director and John Lobo, Manager Mediation gave a presentation on FSCO’s Strategic Priorities, discussing FSCO’s Priorities and key performance indicators: Continuous Service Improvement, Risk Based Delivery and to Foster a Co-Ordinated National Approach to Regulatory Issues. The discussion included the use of a FSCO scorecard.
 
Arbitration Unit Update-Janine Macey
The Arbitration Unit has received 4000+ applications, which has raised concerns regarding a potential buildup of backlog. To date, there has been no evidence of a backlog, due to the Mediation Unit’s efforts to move the Applications through the process. There may be increased pressure to resolve disputes due to the current economic conditions. The Arbitration unit is starting to review their own processes to determine how it can create more capacity with no additional resources.
 
The Arbitration Unit has noted that there has been an increase in preliminary issues on issues of potential Catastrophic Designations. It is also felt as if the hearings are increasing in length from 4 days to 6-8 days. In the past, the average hearing was 2.5 days.  The interlocutory hearings have increased. There is also an increase in settlements late in the process, which is problematic for scheduling Arbitrations.
 
There has also been much difficulty in scheduling pre-hearings.  They are required to be scheduled within 6 -8 weeks, but not all parties are available during that time. It can potentially be upwards of 4 years post-accident for Arbitration hearings to commence, which is not a healthy environment for all stakeholders.
 
Efficiency suggestions from FSCO staff which have been shared with the Counsel Forum:
 
  • Increased pre hearing capacity, (approximately 30% more or 1000 more applications). Currently the pre-hearings are over booked because files will typically settle. The current time slots are 10 am and 2 pm.  Another session could be added by amending the hearing times to 9 30 am, 11 30 am and 2 pm.  Alternatively, two sessions on Fridays for pre-hearings could be added. However, it depends if defense counsel and representatives will be available given their current volume of workload
  • The impact of the reforms of Sept 1/10 has not been felt yet, and DR may be facing increased uptake from the transitional rules.
  • FSCO is recommending to counsel for both applicants and insurers to be better prepared when attending the proceedings. There is a risk of jeopardizing the validity of the work, witnesses, and the integrity of hearing suffers with every hearing delay.
It was also recommended that at the pre-hearing, once the dates have been chosen for a hearing, to also select settlement discussion dates at the same time. This will save the case workers calling 1-2 weeks prior to the prehearing to arrange potential settlement discussion dates. This saves time and effort for all parties and FSCO staff.
 
Another suggestion is to have out-of-town hearings start on Tuesdays, rather than Mondays.  This is because hearings often settle over the weekend, rendering travel arrangements and room bookings unnecessary, and invoking cancellation fees.
 
Mediation Unit Update – John Lobo
Statistics:
Intake:
Received 2010: 27,843 compared to 2009: 20, 917
Closed 2010: 18,350 compared to 2009: 15, 446
Open pending 2010: 22, 118 compared to 2009:12,509
Processing time:
Complete 2010: 116 days compared to 2009: 46 days
Incomplete 2010: 127 days compared to 2009: 54 days
Perfect to assign: 96 days compared to 81 days
Assigned to report: 70 days in 2010 compared to 2009: 66 days
Settlement:
Full 2010: 62 % compared to 2009: 50 %
Partial 2010: 8% compared to 2009: 11 %
Fail 2010: 29% compared to 2009: 32 %
Staffing:
FSCO has posted for 7 backfill contract position Mediators.

Backlog Initiatives:

Mediation pilot project:
This commenced on October 4, 2010 for a 6 month period, involved an increase in file assignment to mediators, a new rotation "duty" mediator system with a meeting overbooking process and a survey to collect case management data.
 
Electronic meeting scheduling pilot project:
This will allow parties in mediation to book a date for a mediation meeting online, without the involvement of a FSCO staff. The parties will be notified electronically when new mediations files are ready to be assigned to a mediator. The electronic online calendars allow parties to schedule, reschedule, cancel meetings and appropriate rules will be embedded in the calendar. FSCO retains the ability to manage and administer the schedule. FSCO will be looking for insurers to volunteer to test this new process. There will be a demonstration at the next Company Forum with hopes to go online in the summer of 2011.
Judicial Review: Asfaw Seife
An update has been completed and attached to the minutes, noting that there has been an increase in Arbitration intake of 45% from four years past, 2006 – 2010.
Next meeting – May 12, 2010 – 10 am at FSCO
Minutes by: Maria Joshua, McLarens Canada