Nova Scotia Looking to Undo the Damage of Tort "Reform"
Nova Scotia appears to be taking a step in the right direction to undo the harm caused by previously implemented tort ‘reform’ measures.
By way of background, Nova Scotia stripped the right of people injured in their Province to be properly compensated for soft tissue injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions. The Province placed an artificial “minor injury cap” on these types of claims. The cap was ultimately upheld as constitutional.
Just because something can be done, however, does not mean it should be. After years of reduced compensation rights to the benefit of insurance company profits Nova Scotia realized that stripping accident injury victims of their rights was a poor move.
With this background in mind I was pleased to read a headline that Nova Scotia may be preparing to (at least partially) bring back tort rights for soft tissue injuries. Canadian Underwriter reported the following on October 24, 2011:
An optional tort product appears likely to be offered in Nova Scotia in the future, according to Ken Meyers, former chair of the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia (IBANS).
“It appears clear now that there will be an optional tort product introduced,” he said at the 91st Annual Convention of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) in Toronto on Oct. 19.
The proposal for an optional tort product is contained in The Final Report Addressing: The Nova Scotia Automobile Insurance Review, published in May 2011.
By purchasing this option, an insured would not be subject to the $7,500 cap currently in place in Nova Scotia for soft tissue injuries.
“In the automobile insurance reforms of 2003 undertaken in Nova Scotia, some stakeholders felt that removal of the right to sue for pain and suffering had the impact of unfairly limiting their options and choice,” the report says in its analysis of the issue.
“Enabling consumers to purchase a full tort option would serve to restore that choice factor, the importance of which is a strongly held view of some consumers.
The article then goes further and states that “Recognizing that this ‘choice’ will inevitably carry a higher premium, it will be important that the product is priced so that there is no likelihood that it will be cross-subsidized by the non-tort product“.
This is where my positive reaction ends. It is not necessary and wrong to require an individual to pay in order to access their tort rights. As previously discussed, stripping injury victim rights is not necessary to have a profitable auto insurance system. Suggestions to the contrary should be closely scrutinized by the press and public alike. For the time being, however, I commend Nova Scotia for this small step in the right direction.