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Province moves to establish independent tribunal on MPI claim appeals

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The provincial government has introduced legislation that will establish an independent tribunal to handle some Manitoba Public Insurance claim appeals.

The Claim Dispute Tribunal will offer "an expedited appeals process," with decisions rendered within 90 days, MPI said in a news release Wednesday.

The tribunal will help with resolving issues related to physical damage claims and liability disputes with customers, but won't handle bodily injury appeals.

Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton, who Wednesday introduced Bill 17 (Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Amendment Act), said the tribunal will help divert cases away from small-claims court, saving time (though he couldn't immediately say how much).

"What Manitobans are looking for is a claims dispute tribunal that’s independent of MPI. So they can voice their concerns on a resolution that was offered by MPI that may not be acceptable to the ratepayers," Wharton said.

"Now they have an opportunity to have their issue heard by an independent panel."

MPI estimated based on its current volume of claims, the tribunal might handle about 700 applications per year.

The Crown corporation handles about 200,000 physical damage claims annually, the majority of which are handled to both parties' satisfaction, MPI said.

"Some claims can be very complicated and disputes may occasionally arise," MPI president and chief executive officer Ben Graham said in a prepared statement.

"The tribunal will create a faster and more efficient option for customers to appeal a fault (liability) finding in a claim, settle disagreements over repairs or total loss payouts."

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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