Willie Handler is a familiar name to anyone working with auto insurance regulations. He has left the public sector, joined the private sector as a consultant and he now maintains a blog called Ontario Auto Insurance Topics. He recently posted an article titled HCAI Data Confirms Ontario’s Minor Injury Guideline is Holding Up in response to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) Health Claims Database Standard Report published in December 2013.
The IBC report outlines data collected by HCAI (Health Claims for Auto Insurance) since 2011. Of note, the data collection starts five months after the September 2010 changes to the Schedule, which brought us the lowered med/rehab limits and the Minor Injury Guideline (MIG).
Mr. Handler’s blog post contains a chart that catalogues the findings from the IBC report. While the statistics for serious injuries (fractures, spinal cord injury, brain injury, major multiple injury) do not see much fluctuation over the years, there is a significant fluctuation when you consider injuries classified as sprains/strains and peripheral nerve injuries.
According to Mr. Handler’s chart, in the first half of 2011, 67.5% of injuries were classified as “sprains/strains”; in the first half of 2013, 75.4% of injuries were classified as “sprains/strains”. At the same time injuries classified as peripheral nerve injuries, including WAD III, seemed to go down from 10.2 % in the first half of 2011 to only 4.5 % in the first half of 2013.
It is highly doubtful that people are suddenly getting “less injured” over the past few years. What is likely the case is that more and more people are getting pushed thoughtlessly into the MIG. This trend does not come as a surprise to anyone practising in this area.
This trend is problematic on many levels. First and foremost, it suggests that people with injuries that are more serious than a simple strain are being treated inappropriately in the MIG. These people are not getting the treatment that they need and they will need to jump through hoops to attempt to get out of the MIG. This is going to cost accident victims time and money that would better be spent focusing on getting the treatment they need. Delays in treatment generally result in poorer outcomes over time.
The challenge of getting out of the MIG is only going to get worse when one considers the likely impact of the February 1, 2014, changes to the SABS.
OTLA remains committed to highlighting these inequities and fighting for the benefit of the accident victims that we represent.