Autonomous vehicles could help improve Ontario auto insurance reforms

Published: January 18, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Autonomous vehicles may not be widely available today, but will become increasingly popular in coming years. Autonomy will be limited at first, but fully self-driving cars could be on roads within 10 years. Insurance companies will change to provide liability to manufacturers and not vehicle owners. One expert believes this shift could make Ontario’s auto insurance reforms more functional.

“It is kind of ironic that if we are getting close to an improvement in the end result of Ontario auto, it will probably coincide with a significant paradigm shift in the way automobile insurance is actually sold and handled,” said Philip Cook, CEO of Omega Insurance Holdings Inc., speaking at the Insurance Institute of Canada’s Industry Trends breakfast in Toronto.

With autonomous vehicles, “there will be less reason to rate drivers than there is to rate the capability of the electronics that are actually running the vehicles,” added Cook. “So, we move from automobile to insurance to product liability insurance, just at a time when the Ontario government may actually have [an answer to Ontario auto…]”

Ontario introduced its reforms on June 1, 2016 and most in the industry say it is too early make lasting judgments on their effectiveness. In December, 2017, the province introduced further reforms designed to lower auto premiums.

“Hopefully, Ontario auto will produce some significant savings for the industry and that can be passed back through to the consumer as promised (in 2013) in Ontario but never delivered because it was impossible,” Cook said Tuesday.