How Many People Actually Buy Optional Accident Benefits?

In Ontario, the standard no-fault Accident Benefit coverage for Catastrophic injuries (i.e. the most serious injuries) is $1M for all Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care services. That amount is not enough to protect you if you are catastrophically injured. For an extra cost, you can buy an extra $1M of coverage (increasing your coverage to $2M).

The standard limit used to be $2M. In 2016, it was reduced to $1M. The Ford government promised in 2019 to increase the limit back to $2M. That hasn’t happened yet. 

In 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Finance asked for submissions on automobile insurance and whether to return to a $2M limit for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits for Catastrophically injured people. 

A number of Ontario automobile insurers made written submissions to the government, and a Freedom of Information Request was made to get the insurers’ submissions. The “highlights” of the “Wow” moments can be found in this previous post

Some of the submissions included statistics about how many people actually buy the optional $2M coverage. Some insurance companies did submissions, while other did not. In the submissions, the companies provided different levels of detail, so some of the stats are open to interpretation, but, overall, the submissions provides a good idea of how many people buy optional benefits.

This chart shows the percentage of customers that buy the optional CAT benefits:

  Company% of Optional CAT Benefits ($2M or $3M)
Ontario Mutual Insurance Association12%
RSA/UnifundLess than 5%

There are two big take away points from this:

  1. Some insurers and brokers need to do a better job educating their customers on optional benefits.

From the stats, there is quite a variance between different insurance companies and the amount of customers that buy optional benefits. Perhaps some insurers and brokers do a better job of explaining the need for optional benefits.  Uptake at less than 10% is not enough, especially given the cost of optional benefits, which we will get to in the next section. 

Remember that from the previous post, Desjardins says:

“We do not believe that it is appropriate for a licenced agent to recommend a specific coverage to a client.”

Maybe that is why only 2.5% of their customers are buying the optional CAT benefits.

2. The government should follow through with their promise to increase the standard limit of Catastrophic benefits to $2M. 

To increase the limits, the cost per driver would not be much. In their submission, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario wrote:

“It is expected that any increase to $2M will have a small to marginal increase on a single insurance policy premium – $15 to $30 per year based on today’s pricing and based upon the brokers surveyed (again insurance companies can provide more specifics on pricing, if need be).”

If the government does not follow through on their promise, drivers should still go out and buy the optional benefits. For about $15 to $30 per year, you get twice the coverage should something really awful happen to you.

Written by

Duncan is a founding partner of White Macgillivray Lester LLP in Thunder Bay and Lecturer at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University, teaching Insurance Law. Duncan has served injury clients all across Northwestern Ontario, from the Manitoba border in the west, to Greenstone in the east and all the way up north to Hudson’s Bay. Duncan is involved in his community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Thunder Bay and Area from 2009 to Present (with 2010 to 2015 as President) and the Board of Directors of Thunder Bay Counselling Centre 2009 to 2015 (with 2011 to 2015 as Board Chair). Duncan is also involved in the legal community, sitting on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association since 2015, Thunder Bay Law Association since 2012, and Co-Chairing the Thunder Bay Law Association’s Civil Litigation CLE programs.