Protect Your Family from Catastrophic Automobile Insurance Reform

Child faces camera while parent straps sibling into car

Anyone reading the tragic story of Adam Bari out of Hamilton, Ontario this past week will undoubtedly feel overwhelming sympathy for his now dire situation and will at the same time experience incredible apprehension and fear at the thought of such a tragedy ever happening to either themselves or to a loved one.

Due to recent changes to the auto insurance regulations brought forth by the Ontario government as of June 1, 2016, Mr. Bari was unable to access over $1.9 million worth of medical and rehabilitation coverage from his automobile insurer after sustaining a serious brain injury as well as a broken arm and leg as a result of a automobile collision in early June of this year.

Under the no‐fault automobile insurance regime in Ontario, serious injuries arising from car accidents are capable of being classified as “catastrophic”. This classification increases available medical and rehabilitation coverage for the injured victim from $65,000 to $1 million. However, the definition of “catastrophic injury” has changed as of June 1, 2016. Simply put, the new definitions make it much more difficult for injuries to be designated catastrophic, meaning that many victims of car accidents cannot afford crucial medical and rehabilitation benefits to help them in their recovery.

Unfortunately, this is the situation Mr. Bari and his family now face. His severe injuries did not fit the narrow definition of catastrophic; notwithstanding that his resulting medical needs and costs are significant and will far exceed the $86,000 available from his insurer. There are reports that Mr. Bari is now facing bankruptcy as a result of the financial destitution which these insurance reforms have now placed on him.

Sadly, this is the reality for not only Adam Bari but also for thousands of other car accident victims in the Province of Ontario. A significant burden has now been placed not only on accident victims but also on the publicly-funded healthcare system which will have to bear the brunt of the colossal medical costs associated with such a dramatic decrease in available insurance coverage. This is, and should be, a huge concern for all Ontario taxpayers.

“We have been doing a lot of work to try and reform the system to provide better service to consumers and victims, while at the same time provide for greater affordability, and it’s being done on a number of reforms that have been enacted and that are continuing to be so.”

– Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa

Spending an extra $25 on your annual automobile insurance premiums could save you and your family from financial disaster.

Luckily, there is a solution to this unfortunate conundrum. Consumers are able to purchase increased medical and rehabilitation benefits from their auto insurer at a very minimal cost to their overall premium. Such additional coverage would mean an increase in available medical and rehabilitation benefits from $65,000 to $1 million and would extend for the duration of the injured person’s lifetime. This is rather significant as the default coverage provides lower limit coverage for a period of only five years following the car accident.

More importantly, this additional coverage would extend to noncatastrophic injuries meaning that the victim’s injuries need not be classified as catastrophic in order to trigger the $1 million lifetime limit for medical and rehabilitation coverage.

Although the amount may vary from individual to individual, industry sources say that the costs of this additional medical and rehabilitation coverage ranges on average from $25 to $35 per year. Such a preventative measure may very well protect victims and families from insurmountable medical and financial distress brought on by a serious and unexpected car accident.

This purchase can be made by simply contacting your local automobile insurance broker. Consumers and motorists are encouraged to ask their brokers for more information on this extremely important issue.

John Michael Bray
Written by

John Michael is a director of the Ontario Trial Lawyer Association and a lawyer in Sudbury, Ontario where he practices in the area of personal injury law.

John Michael is at home in Northern Ontario. He has a love for the outdoors, including fishing and hunting. He is also participates in many team sports and enjoys food, culture, fine dining and travelling.