Accident victims denied millions in benefits by insurers, lawsuits allege

November 1, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Six auto insurance giants have withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in HST payments from Ontario car accident victims in defiance of repeated demands from the provincial regulator, according to a series of class-action lawsuits -- obtained exclusively by the Toronto Star -- claiming $600 million in damages.

Since the HST was introduced in Ontario in July 2010, Intact, Aviva, Unifund Assurance, belairdirect, Certas Direct and Allstate have engaged in "unfair practices," the lawsuits allege. They say companies did not pay or reimburse HST on medical benefits in some cases, while in others they included HST in calculating a claimant's benefit limits -- all in violation of repeated regulatory direction.

Each of the companies is accused of "preferring its own profits ahead of ... the well-being of (claimants) who suffered loss or injuries" in auto accidents.

"Anyone who buys insurance from these companies are being gouged," said Paul Harte, who is among a group of lawyers representing plaintiffs in the lawsuits. "They're paying for coverage that the companies have no intention of paying."

The six class-action suits, filed in court Wednesday, have not been certified and their claims have not been tested in court.

The Star sent interview requests to each of the six named insurance companies. Spokespeople for Intact, belairdirect, Certas and Unifund Assurance declined to comment, and Allstate did not respond.

Avivia spokesperson Fabrice de Dongo declined to comment on the lawsuit allegations but said, in a written statement: "Aviva has followed the industry position on HST being included within the maximum benefit amounts ... and continues to support this interpretation."

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