In an earlier post, we criticized a Toronto Star column for biased coverage of recent auto insurance changes. The column, which was written by a Joel Cohen, a representative of the auto industry, presented misleading and unsupported facts about accident victims. We printed Dale Orlando’s response to the column on our blog and urged the Star to do the same. To its credit, the Toronto Star did publish Dale Orlando’s response. A link to his response can be found here (Mr. Orlando’s letter appears below the first letter).
We applaud the Toronto Star for presenting an alternate viewpoint on this important issue.
After September 1, 2010, car insurance companies and brokers across Ontario will be presenting consumers with new choices for their auto insurance renewals. A daunting process is ahead. The insurance system in Ontario is one of the most complicated systems in North America.
Even though car insurance is a major budgetary item for many families, many consumers are unfamiliar with the coverage they actually have. After September 1, consumers will be given a number of choices as to amount of benefits they wish to purchase. By giving such a choice, the intent was to give them a break on premiums being paid.
The new basic auto policy being sold contains far less benefits than what existed before September 1. With benefits being drastically reduced, one would of course expect to see some significant reductions in how much one has to pay in premiums.
Therefore it is absolutely critical that each consumer ask their insurance company and brokers what are they buying and at what price. Like shopping in a supermarket, each item ought to have a price tag. Read more of this article »
[This is the fifth of a five part series by Patrick Brown on upcoming changes to auto insurance]
Injured accident victims will have a significant amount of their benefits reduced due to assessment costs. Despite the dramatic slashing of benefits reported in my previous blogs, consumers will also face further reductions based on the fact that the cost of assessments will come out of the amount of benefits available.
For example, if a consumer is injured in a car accident and the injuries are not considered to be catastrophic, they presently have $100,000 in benefits for medical and rehabilitation treatment. Any assessment costs to obtain the benefit are over and above the $100,000.
Under the new standard policy without buy ups, the consumer will only have $50,000 available in benefit dollars. That $50,000 includes assessments costs. Therefore, if $5,000 is paid for an assessment to obtain the benefit, then the amount available to the injured person is reduced down to $45,000. Read more of this article »
Patrick Brown has made a series of posts recently discussing the changes to auto insurance in Ontario. In today’s Toronto Star, James Daw provides a useful illustration of what a lower premium may cost you in the long run, in terms of reduced benefits and coverage.
The table below is taken from Mr. Daw’s article:
[This is the fourth part of a series by Patrick Brown on upcoming changes to Ontario's Auto Insurance Laws]
Starting September 1, 2010, many family members who provide basic care needs to their injured family members will be cut out from receiving any compensation for these essential services. The new law eliminates any benefits going to a family member who help the disabled family member unless they show they suffered an “economic loss” because of it.
This will have a devastating impact on families who chose to have family members look after their severely injured loved ones. The new law was passed at the request of the insurance industry. It will force families to use outside agencies. Right now for instances, if a family member is hit by a car and suffers serious injury to the extent they can no longer dress, bathe or feed themselves, a benefit is available up to either 3,000 or 6,000 per month so that other families members can help. Under the new system, this funding will stop unless mom, dad or sibling can show they lost money somehow [i.e. they have to quit work or miss work without pay]. The only way to access the benefit is to have a third party care agency come in and provide the services. Read more of this article »
This is the third of a series by Patrick Brown on the upcoming changes to auto insurance in Ontario.
After September 1, 2010, if you are hurt in a car accident and are deemed to suffer a “minor injury”, do not expect to get much help. Although the legislative intent was to simplify the system, reduce extraordinary assessment and administrative expense and reduce the number of smaller claims, this new category of injury may have a significant impact on injuries that may be anything but “minor”.
Read more of this article »
This is the second of a series where Patrick Brown discusses the upcoming changes to auto insurance.
The Ontario Government has now stepped up and restored both dignity and respect to the senior community and those families that have lost a loved one at the hands of a bad driver.
The Minister of Finance announced that effective September 1, 20010, the deductible in auto related wrongful death cases will be eliminated. The right to a grandparent to receive compensation when they lose a grandchild will be restored. As well, grandchildren will also be able to advance meaningful claims for compensation when they lose a grandparent to a negligent driver.
Read more of this article »
This is the first of a series where Patrick Brown discusses the upcoming changes to auto insurance.
Starting this September, if you are injured in a car accident, the benefits available to assist you in getting better will be drastically reduced.
The insurance industry has set it self up, once again, for record profits. Following intensive lobbying by the insurance industry, the Ministry of Finance released the new Regulations for Auto Insurance on www.e-laws.gov.on.ca. These regulations are now law. As of September 1, 2010, all persons who are injured in an incident involving a car (this includes cyclists and pedestrians) will face reduced benefits when hurt.
Dollars used to care for the injured victims will be deflected away from the insurance industry to the public health system. The last time the government gave a break to the auto insurance industry was in 2003 when they reduced compensation to be paid out to victims of accidents. Back in 2003 the industry was crying poor and pressing the panic button on rising health care costs and increased premiums. After the 2003 changes were made profits soared. In 2004, Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry made $4.7 billion. It went on to make $4.6 billion in 2005 and about $5.8 billion in 2006. Read more of this article »
Under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), a person injured in a car accident in Ontario is entitled to receive a weekly income replacement benefit for two years if he or she is unable to perform his or her own occupation.after two years, the injured person is only entitled to receive an ongoing income replacement benefit if the injured person is completely unable “to engage in any employment for which he or she is reasonably suited by education, training or experience.”
In the recent decision of Burtch v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal was asked to articulate the proper test for income replacement benefits more than two years after an accident. Specifically, it was asked to consider whether an injured person is considered able to engage in employment if there is job that the injured person is not currently qualified for but is capable of qualifying for.
The Court of Appeal held that it is not necessary for the injured person to the formally qualified and able to begin work immediately for alternative employment to be considered a reasonably suitable alternative. A job for which the injured person is not already qualified may be a suitable alternative so long as “substantial” upgrading or retraining is not required.
Read more of this article »
Since the defining regulation for the Bill 198 threshold was passed in October 2003, it has been the subject of a much debate. There have been surprisingly few decisions to provide guidance and new decisions are always welcome.
Only six days into the new year, Madame Justice Milanetti released a new decision that sheds further light on the interpretation of the threshold under Bill 198. It suggests that courts are not interpreting the Bill 198 threshold as a substantial departure from the previous threshold under Bill 59.
Valdez v. Clarke involved a threshold motion brought by a defendant at the end of a three-week jury trial. Mr. Valdez had been involved in three motor vehicle collisions and brought a lawsuit against the defendant driver in the second collision. The jury awarded Mr. Valadez $25,000 in general damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Because the deductible on general damages is $30,000 under Bill 198, Mr. Valdez would not end up receiving any compensation.
Despite the absence of any financial recovery for Mr. Valdez, Justice Milanetti agreed to hear the defendant’s threshold motion “given the paucity of Bill 198 law on threshold thus far.”
Read more of this article »