Give and Take: Auto Insurance Premiums Drop at Expense of Ontario’s Injured and Vulnerable

Signs at Rally for Fair Insurance Benefits

OTLA President-Elect Adam Wagman recently appeared with Jerry Agar on Newstalk 1010, Scott Thompson of AM900 CHML, and also with Tom Hayes on Global News to speak about concerns with Ontario’s new auto insurance rules.

On June 1, 2016, in an effort to reduce insurance premiums in Ontario, the Provincial government has mandated changes to accident benefits. These changes include a $1 million dollar reduction to coverage for the catastrophically injured.

All of these changes warrant many questions. Here are some FAQs regarding the new rules.

Q: What does this legislation mean for drivers in Ontario?
A: The government has taken $1 million of needed treatment and care away from those who suffer catastrophic injuries, including people with spinal cord injuries and severe brain injuries. If someone who you know ends up in a wheelchair as a result of a car accident, they will not have the care and treatment that they need.
Q: What has changed?
A: In order to reduce insurance premiums by about 10%, the government has cut medical and care benefits for people in wheelchairs and those with severe brain injuries by $1million. So, in exchange for about $150 per insurance policy, you and your family will now not have the protection that you need to recover and have the quality of life you deserve.
Q: A million dollars is a lot of money. What does it really mean?
A: Right now, you have one million dollars in coverage for rehabilitation and another million for your necessary care. But, with this cut, if you still get all of the treatment and rehabilitation you need, you will have almost nothing left for your care. Or, you will have to choose not to get your physiotherapy, or your wheelchair, or the accommodations to your home to live more independently, in order to save a bit of money to help with your care for a few years. Once the money is gone, there is nothing left for the rest of your life. And, that money will go quickly. You and your family will not have the quality of care, recovery and support that you need, and have the quality of life you deserve.
Q: What does this really mean for insured drivers?
A: Drivers in Ontario do not have a choice. We must have auto insurance. But you do have the choice to pay a small additional insurance premium to get some of this important coverage back. Isn’t your family worth it? The average driver has had their insurance reduced by an average of $150 a year, but make no mistake that you are trading that reduction in cost for the reduced quality of care and life of your loved ones. So, spend part of that cut in premiums to purchase “optional benefits” for medical, rehabilitation and attendant care. Don’t let your family go without this necessary coverage!
Q: What can we do?
A: Call your broker or insurance company today and get this optional coverage added back into your policy. Use your premium cost savings to buy back peace of mind. Isn’t your family worth it?

This million-dollar change in medical rehabilitation and attendant care benefits could easily be the deciding factor in whether an injured person can afford adequate treatment to achieve recovery. It may mean putting family at risk financially, emotionally, and physically.

In explaining the high cost of auto insurance in Ontario, insurers are quick to blame “rampant” fraud. Except fighting fraud does not justify the decision to recoup losses from Ontario’s most vulnerable. The incoming changes are even harder to stomach when you see reports of the profits pocketed by Ontario insurance companies and their executives.


Many Ontarians are forced into poverty or kept there because of injuries

In his Newstalk 1010 interview, Adam asked “Why are we reducing the benefits for people in wheelchairs to pay for that fraud instead of combatting fraud?” He continued, “It makes absolutely no sense for our system to try to save money by taking that care away from someone in a wheelchair.”

The people who will be most affected by these cuts are the mentally and physically disabled and their families. This marginalized group is already one of the most vulnerable in our society, especially when considering those living in poverty. These survivors of trauma and those living in poverty are more vulnerable to PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Worse, these same people face more difficult recovery, and are more likely to develop other health issues like chronic pain.

Personal injury lawsuits and accident benefits are of vital importance to Ontario’s poor and disabled residents; they may not be able to rely on savings or that of their family, and instead require compensation to afford necessary treatment.

Ontarians need to know that the new rules allow you to purchase additional Optional Benefits, which bring your coverage back to $2M

Ontario drivers need to understand the consequences of these changes or else will risk being caught unaware and left vulnerable with inadequate coverage. In his interview with Tom Hayes on Global News, Adam says, “the worst thing that you want to hear from a client is ‘I didn’t know that I wasn’t covered’.”



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