Insurance firms pledge small-business help as pressure to address rising rates mounts
A closed store front boutique business called Francis Watson pleads for help displaying a sign in Toronto on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- A group representing Canadian insurance companies say it is launching a team that will help small businesses find affordable coverage as rates rise because of the pandemic.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada, an association that represents the industry, says the team will start its work by focusing on helping the hard-hit hospitality sector in Ontario.
The move comes after business owners and politicians in Ontario raised concerns over increasing instances of sky-rocketing commercial insurance rates and outright denial of coverage in some cases.
Premier Doug Ford twice warned the insurance sector last week that it could face possible regulation if it did not help businesses.
The insurance bureau says the new team, which will begin work next month, will evaluate the needs of the businesses and find them appropriate coverage.
The CEO of the insurance bureau acknowledged the frustration small business owners are facing.
"We have a shared interest in making sure that as many small hospitality businesses as possible in Ontario can find the insurance they need -- even in a time of heightened uncertainty and risk," Don Forgeron said in a statement.
The Ontario government said that Ford and Finance Minister Rod Phillips organised a conference call with the heads of insurance companies last week to press them to take action.
Phillips' office said he told the companies the government wants to work with them, but needed to protect small businesses.
"The expectation is to see solutions within days, not weeks," Phillips said in a statement.
Ford had slammed the companies during a press conference last week when he urged them to take action to stop what he called "gouging" by some in the sector.
Ontario does not currently regulate commercial insurance, something the Progressive Conservative government said last week that it has not ruled out.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 29, 2020