Have you looked at your auto insurance plan recently?

Do you know how much you and your loved ones will be covered for if you get hurt in a car accident, potentially catastrophically?

We don’t like to think about suffering a car accident. They’re shocking and debilitating. Many of us like to get our mandatory insurance policy, and then simply go about our business, assuming we will be fine.

And you might be. But that’s the strange thing about unexpected, life-changing harm: you don’t need a personal injury lawyer to help you get what you are entitled to, in the aftermath of a devastating crash, until you do.

That’s why if you don’t know what your insurance plan covers you for, you need to look now, as you may have less coverage than you thought. This is because there have been major recent changes in the law.

On June 1, 2016, sweeping changes to Ontario’s Statutory Accidents Benefits Schedule (SABS) were implemented. SABS is the regulatory scheme that provides the rules for the extent of insurance coverage available for Ontario residents.

A number of these changes reduce the baseline coverage available to you. Here’s an overview of what the revised law may mean for you:

  1. Catastrophic injury benefits amount cut in half. Previously, for those suffering catastrophic injuries, medical and rehabilitation benefits were available at a total amount of $1,000,000, with attendant benefits at $1,000,000 as well. Now those benefits have been put together in one category for a 50% overall reduction, down to $1,000,000 total for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits.
  2. Non-catastrophic injury benefits amount cut by 25%, and duration cut in half. Before June 1, 2016, non-catastrophic medical and rehabilitation benefits were set at $50,000, and attendant care at $36,000. Now they have been combined to $65,000 in total for all three benefits, a roughly 25% decrease from the previous standard. It also became more difficult to access non-catastrophic medical and rehab benefits; instead of being available for up to ten years after an accident, they are only granted for up to five years.
  3. Non-earner benefit duration capped at two years, and only available to those 18-and-over. Before, non-earner benefits (paid to certain types of victims who did not earn regular wages) were paid at $185 a week for up to two years after the accident. The payment would begin six months after the accident. If the victim, who must be 16-years-or-older at the time of the accident, remained disabled after that period, they would then be granted $320 per week going forward.

Now, there is no baseline obligation for the insurer to pay non-earner benefits after two years. Victims did get a bit of a trade-off with the six-month cooling-off period shortened to four weeks. However, if the disability remained for a long period, non-earner injured Ontarians would find themselves with significantly reduced benefits in comparison to the older system. Additionally, those 16-or-17-years-old find themselves now cut out completely from the non-earner benefits scheme; the new version of SABS restricts this benefit to those over 18 years of age.

Overall, the new SABS regime provides much lower minimum coverage to victims of a vehicular accident, as well as creating a precarious situation for certain brain injury victims. Getting back to a level of coverage you previously enjoyed now requires you to go out of your way, and to ask your insurance provider for additional, optional coverage.

Don’t leave your loved ones scrambling to figure out what they should do if the worst happens. Talk to your insurance provider about your coverage, and make sure you have enough to help you and your family in case you need to make a claim.

The team at Bergeron Clifford would be happy to talk to you about these changes and any other personal injury law questions you may have, whether you are in Kingston, Ottawa, Carleton Place, Whitby, or Perth.

You don’t need an injury lawyer, until you do. Call us and prepare yourself with actionable advice.