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Recent cuts to benefits for accident victims

Have you recently received a letter from your auto insurer describing changes to your coverage? As of June 1, 2016, the law governing auto insurance has changed, stripping every Ontario resident of basic auto insurance benefits that used to exist as a part of the mandated, standard auto insurance policy.

In Ontario, we have compulsory auto insurance. All registered vehicles must have insurance coverage purchased through a private insurer. The law mandates the basic minimum requirements of the auto insurance policy, meaning we are all required to have at least certain basic coverage.

Should you have the unfortunate experience of being involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have access to a mixed system of rights and benefits available in Ontario. This mixed system consists of an “at-fault” and a “no-fault” component. The “at-fault” component allows you to sue another party if that party caused or contributed to the cause of the accident. The “no-fault” component allows a claim for various accident benefits (generally pursued against your own auto insurer).

Over the years, this two-part system has undergone many changes, instituted by legislation. Most changes have resulted in harder tests and hurdles when advancing an “at-fault” claim and fewer accident benefits available on the “no fault” side of the system.

Recently, the Ontario government passed legislation which results in further cuts to standard “no-fault” accident benefits. The changes came into effect on June 1, 2016, meaning they will apply to you upon purchase or renewal of your policy on or after June 1, 2016.

One of the most significant changes is a dramatic reduction in medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefits. Under the old policy, medical and rehabilitation benefits made up one category of benefits with a certain monetary limit depending on the severity of your injuries. Attendant care was a separate category with a separate monetary limit. Under the new policy, these two categories have been combined into one and the combined monetary limit is reduced as follows:

Old Policy

Minor Injury Guideline Claims:

Medical and rehabilitation limit = $3,500

Non-Minor Injury Claims:

Medical and rehabilitation limit = $50,000 available over a maximum of 10 years

Attendant care limit = $36,000 available over a maximum of two years

Catastrophic Claims:

Medical and rehabilitation limit = $1,000,000 available over a lifetime

Attendant care limit = $1,000,000 available over a lifetime

New Policy

Minor Injury Guideline Claims:

Unchanged

Non-Minor Injury Claims:

Medical and rehabilitation combined with attendant care, limit = $65,000 available over a maximum of five years

Catastrophic Claims:

Medical and rehabilitation combined with attendant care, limit = $1,000,000 available over a lifetime

The above changes are some of the most significant, but there are others. The decrease in benefits for catastrophic claims is certainly the largest reduction. Many catastrophic victims will exhaust the limits well before their needs come to an end.

Ensure that you understand the benefits available to you under your policy. Ask your broker to explain all of the changes to your policy and the cost of buying additional coverage to augment these changes.

Blog post written by Lucianna Saplywy, a partner at Daniel & Partners LLP, practicing exclusively in personal injury.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 905.688.9411 or email saplywyl@niagaralaw.ca.

This article was featured in HWS Magazine.

 

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