Auto Insurance Changes in Ontario

The way car insurance benefits work for licensed drivers in Ontario has undergone some major changes. The Ontario Government, through the Financial Services Commission of Ontario(FSCO), announced Ontario Regulation Number 34/10. This changes the way auto insurance works. Every five years, the Ontario Government changes Ontario’s car insurance.

One of the most significant changes is the reduction of the maximum amount of medical rehabilitative benefit for Ontario’s accident victims.

The previous system provided that anyone who bought a standard insurance policy had at least $100,000 in medical and rehabilitation benefits. This means that if you were injured or hurt by the operation or use of an automobile, you could get healthcare and rehabilitation treatment up to $100,000. Your car accident could have resulted in you being entitled to up to $100,000 of physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment, as well as occupational therapy, massage and cranial sacral treatments, aquafit programs and psychological counseling. This money was reasonable and helped victims of car accidents in Ontario.

The new system allows victims of serious accidents to receive only half their medical and rehabilitation benefits at the same cost. Ontarians will get just $50,000 in medical and rehabilitation benefits under the same car insurance policy. They used to have up to $100,000. Ontarians will pay the same premiums but receive 50% less benefits. There is an opt-in premium to increase your medical/rehabilitative coverage to $100,000 or $1,100,000 for an additional fee; but I don’t suspect that many Ontarians will opt in for this additional coverage. If their broker does not tell them, many consumers might not know about it.

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My experience shows that many severely injured victims of accidents go through $50,000 in medical or rehabilitative benefits fairly quickly. Accident victims who have exhausted this amount of money may not be able to find financial support or a place to go for treatment.

A significant change is the reduction of attendant care benefits in standard Ontario car insurance policies. Ontarians had access to attendant care benefits up to $72,000 under the old standard policies. For accident victims who are unable to care for themselves, attendant care benefits will be paid. Some accident victims may need some help bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, cleaning, picking up toiletries/medications, or just need supervision for safety. These people are known as attendants. The attendant care benefits are money paid to them by the insurance company for their services and time.

The standard limit for Attendant Care Benefits, which is $72,000, will be reduced to $36,000 starting September 1, 2010. Ontarians will pay the same amount for car insurance with half the benefits. Ontarians have the option to pay $72,000 extra for med/rehab benefits or $1,072,000 more for attendant care benefits. However, I believe only a few will be able to afford that premium. Just like the reduced limits on med/rehab benefits benefits, the reduced limit of $36,000 to cover attendant care benefits for severely injured accident victims can be quickly accessed.

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This is not good news for Ontario’s motorists. These major changes are often not noticed by drivers until they have been in an accident. These changes are only noticeable and problematic after you or someone close to you is hurt in a car accident.