Important Changes to Your Auto Insurance Policy starting June 1, 2016
If you own a vehicle in Ontario you are required by law to purchase a standard auto insurance policy and coming into effect on June 1, 2016 there will be changes to the types of standard Accident Benefits available to you if you are injured in a car accident.
The call for a reduction in insurance premiums in Ontario lead to the upcoming changes, which will result in many of the standard accident benefits being significantly decreased or eliminated entirely.
If you received your car insurance renewal package in the mail be sure to read it thoroughly and take note of how your coverage options have changed. The following are some highlights of the important changes that you need to know about.
Major Changes to Medical and Rehabilitative Coverage
Any auto policy renewed after the June 1, 2016 deadline will be subject to legislated changes to the standard medical and rehabilitation benefits available to you and the family members listed on your policy.
Your medical and rehabilitation benefits coverage for funding of treatment including physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, and the cost of prescription medication, among other things has changed. If your injuries are classified as “minor injuries” you are subject to a $3,500 limit for medical and rehabilitation benefits. Although the limit remains the same under the new legislation, once the changes come into effect, you will only have access to these benefits for 5 years following your collision instead of 10 years, which was the previous standard.
The most significant change to the medical and rehabilitation benefits available to you will be for those injuries classified as non-minor for which there is an attendant care benefit available. The attendant care benefit includes funding for professional help with your activities of daily living such as: meal preparation, personal hygiene, and mobility assistance.
Under the current standard policy, if you suffer a non-catastrophic injury you have access to $50,000 in medical and rehabilitation benefits and an additional $36,000 for attendant care benefits. Under the new standard policy, coverage for these benefits has been reduced to a combined total of $65,000, which translates into a loss of $21,000 available benefits. Additionally, the time period for accessing these benefits has been reduced to 5 years.
Currently, if your injuries are classified as catastrophic, the standard benefit policy includes $1,000,000 in coverage for each of medical and attendant care benefits, for a total of $2,000,000 in benefits. Changes to standard benefits have resulted in a reduction of these benefits to a maximum combined total of $1,000,000, resulting in a 50% reduction in the amount of benefits available to you if you are catastrophically injured.
The ability to increase the benefits available to you for medical/rehabilitation and attendant care benefits can be purchased through optional benefits. You should contact your insurance representative to ask about the various optional benefits that you can purchase to ensure optimal coverage for you and your family. We strongly recommend that you considering purchasing optional accident benefits with the advice of your insurance broker or agent.
Changes to Income Replacement Benefits
If your injuries prevent you from returning to work following a collision, the standard coverage for the Income Replacement Benefit will remain the same. This benefit is capped at 70% of your gross income, to a maximum of $400 per week. Optional benefits can be purchased to increase the maximum weekly benefit available to $600, $800, or $1,000 per week. You should contact your insurance representative to discuss whether purchasing optional income replacement benefits is a viable option for you.
If you are a student and/or were not working at the time of your collision and you qualify for the Non-Earner Benefit, you are no longer subject to the 6 month waiting period for this benefit under the new legislation. The new waiting period for the Non-Earner Benefit is only 4 weeks. While you may benefit from the shorter waiting period for access to this benefit, you should know that under the new standard policy, the Non-Earner Benefit will only be available for 2 years following your collision and not a lifetime, as was previously available.
What you Need to Do
In light of the changes to your auto insurance benefits and the quickly approaching renewal date, you should contact your insurance representative right away to discuss what options are best for you and to ask questions about how your coverage will change. If it’s not too late, you should ask your representative about purchasing optional benefits to ensure that your policy contains enough of the types of benefits that are important to you. Often times, the cost of purchasing optional benefits to ensure the best possible coverage for you and your family is minimal.
If you’ve been injured in a collision and need help navigating the accident benefits forms and coverages that are available to you through your auto insurance policy, don’t hesitate to contact our lawyers at McNally Gervan who can help with ensuring that you have access to all of the benefits that may be available to you.