I often see how important accessing no-fault benefits can be for my clients so that they can achieve maximum medical recovery in the shortest period possible. No one likes to pay for car insurance. People like it less if they’ve been injured in a car accident and discover that they do not have enough insurance. You owe it to yourself and your family to familiarize yourself with the reductions to the standard accident benefits and the amount and cost of the available optional benefits and buy the insurance benefits you need to protect yourself and your family members.
Did You Know: The standard no-fault accident benefits have been drastically reduced?
You may not know it but your automobile insurance benefits were substantially reduced on June 1, 2016. The reductions are significant but a survey conducted by the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario revealed that only 42% of consumers had even heard about the changes and less than 20% could actually identify what those changes were. Everyone in Ontario who buys auto insurance needs to know the extent of the reductions and what optional benefits are available to maintain their current level of coverage.
What are the most significant reductions?
The following is a brief summary of the reductions to standard accident benefits:
Policies issued before June 1, 2016 provided $50,000 in Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits and an additional $36,000 for Attendant Care Benefits for non-catastrophic injuries. These two types of benefits have now been combined and reduced to a total of $65,000. For many injured people the reduced combined total will mean having to choose between receiving necessary healthcare and rehabilitation treatments or accessing attendant care. There will simply not be enough money to cover all of these expenses with only $65,000 available for both.
Prior to June 1, 2016, people who suffered the most serious “catastrophic” injuries could access $1 million for Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits and an additional $1 million for Attendant Care Benefits. These benefits have been effectively cut in half as there is now a new combined total of only $1 million. This means that the most seriously injured accident victims have lost $1 million in standard coverage.
How do you make sure you have the right coverage?
It is very important that you speak with your insurance company, broker or salesperson and familiarize yourself with the benefit reductions so that you can make an informed decision about the amount of coverage you need to protect yourself and your family. You can do this by purchasing “optional” benefits at an additional cost.
You should seriously consider purchasing optional benefits. The steady erosion of the standard no-fault benefits over the past 20 years means that the reduced limits are no longer adequate for most of us if we are seriously injured. This means that, when you renew your policy, you must investigate the available optional benefits and purchase the right options to meet your specific needs. If your renewal is several months away I suggest you contact your insurance intermediary and arrange a meeting to discuss your Optional Benefit needsnow and not wait for your renewal. We never know when we are going to be in an accident.
I expect that you will find that upgrading your protection by buying optional benefits is relatively inexpensive.
Based on available information, it seems that increasing the combined Medical/Rehabilitation and Attendant Care limit for non-catastrophic injuries from $65,000 to $130,000 may cost less than $50 a year. Increasing this coverage to the maximum available of $1 million may cost under $70 a year. Increasing coverage for catastrophic injury from $1 million to $2 million may only cost about $40 a year. You may find that for about $150 a year you can increase your coverage to the maximum now available. And, believe me, if you or a member of your family is catastrophically injured in a car accident you will consider it $150 well spent.
Edward (Ted) Masters is a personal injury lawyer in Ottawa with over 35 years of experience representing those seriously injured in car accidents. He can be contacted by his direct phone number, 613-566-2064, or by email at email@example.com.