(Law Firms: Harte Law PC, Murray Ralston LLP and Kemp PC)
TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2018 /CNW/ - A series of class actions have been launched against the largest auto insurance companies in Ontario alleging they short-changed victims the amount of the HST payable on accident benefits under the standard auto policy. The class action seeks millions of dollars in compensation for injured victims and a court order stopping the practice.
It is alleged that Aviva, Intact, Belair, Allstate, Unifund and Certas ignored repeated direction from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), the provincial agency responsible for overseeing the government-designed auto insurance.
"FSCO could not have been clearer," said Toronto class action lawyer Paul Harte. Harte points to a FSCO Bulletin which tells all insurers that: "The HST is a tax and is not part of the benefit limits ..."
Allegedly, these insurers ignored FSCO and where they could, they refused to pay the HST or they used HST to wrongfully reduce benefits resulting in less care for the injured. Earlier this month, one of the insurers (Aviva) wrote to an accident victim saying: "Aviva intends to maintain its position that any applicable HST is inclusive of the benefit limit".
"FSCO turned a blind eye to the unfair industry practices, even when it knew individuals were being unfairly denied benefits," said Harte. "In response to repeated complaints, FSCO acknowledged the practice. It indicated that the offending insurers had been told to stop the practice and had promised to follow the directive. However, insurers continued to ignore FSCO and the practice continued."
"This deceitful action by insurers appears to be widespread. Our investigation of other insurance companies continues," added Harte. "We have established a toll-free hotline (1-866-540-2747) and website (autohstclassaction.com) to receive complaints from the public against any insurer who has wrongfully reduced benefits by the amount of the HST. All information provided will be kept confidential".
SOURCE Harte Law
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