As a regulator, FSCO does not have the authority to make regulatory or legislative changes, although FSCO may provide advice to the government in such matters.
FSCO’s overall objective for insurance is to build public confidence in Ontario's insurance industry. It does this by:
- Licensing companies to meet Ontario's needs for all types of insurance;
- Monitoring the industry to protect the solvency of insurance companies incorporated in Ontario;
- Insisting on high standards of market conduct, including sound business practices and fair access for consumers;
- Taking disciplinary and enforcement measures when necessary; and,
- Providing unbiased consumer information.
FSCO includes a Tribunal to provide expert, prompt, and effective review of regulatory decisions. FSCO has an Advisory Council to provide FSCO with advice and recommendations on matters such as its priorities, fees and assessment structure. Members of the Advisory Council are participants in the insurance, pension, loan and trust, credit unions and caisses populaires, co-operatives and mortgage broker sectors, and include consumer representatives.
Improved measures are being put in place to help consumers get their insurance complaints resolved more quickly. Among them was the appointment at FSCO of the first Insurance Ombudsman in Canada. As well, a complaint handling protocol has been established for all insurance companies licensed to operate in Ontario. In addition, each company has an Ombudsman Liaison who oversees the complaint handling process. FSCO also has a technical working group called the Market Watch Committee - Property and Casualty Insurance, which focuses on identifying industry issues and consumer needs, and will co-ordinate consumer information. Finally, FSCO has a Dispute Resolution Group (DRG), which hosts regular consultation forums with insurers and with members of the legal profession. FSCO is currently undertaking a major review of the regulation of insurance distribution.
Dispute Resolution Group
In June 1998 the Hon. George W. Adams, QC reported on his independent audit of FSCO's Dispute Resolution Group (DRG). He was asked to review its overall performance given the substantial changes to the DRG's legislative mandate over the previous eight years and the (then upcoming) merger of the Ontario Insurance Commission (OIC) into the new FSCO.
The aim of this review was to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the DRG; to identify obvious improvements that may be available to better attain its goals; and to identify areas in need of further study. The report commented on operational efficiency, standards of customer service, integrity of the system, fairness of the system, and the system's capacity to meet all regulatory and legislative requirements. Mr. Adams wrote:
"The Dispute Resolution Group at the Ontario Insurance Commission has been in existence since 1990. The DRG is a self-contained mediation, arbitration and appeals system with jurisdiction over personal injury automobile accident claims arising out of the three Statutory Accident Benefits Schedules (SABS). It is the largest, most comprehensive dispute resolution system of any Ontario administrative agency, board or commission. It is widely known to be a pioneer on the cutting edge of dispute resolution best practices.”