Car insurance injury benefits can be a complicated issue.
What injury benefits and coverages do you have on your employer benefits package? Do you have dependants? Do you have pre-existing injuries that could worsen if you’re in an accident? Will you need help with your home if you have an accident? What changes have happened over the last year that could affect your medical requirements? A frank discussion about your needs is what your broker should have with you when you get a new car insurance policy or renew your existing one.
An Unfortunate Lesson with Car Insurance Injury Benefits
You may recall hearing about an unfortunate motorcycle accident of an Ontario man, which occurred on June 1, 2016. His plight with increasing rehabilitation costs is tragic. Unfortunately, this scenario is neither new nor unique. It happens to hundreds of people in Ontario each year.
Under the Government of Ontario’s mandate to reduce car insurance costs in Ontario benefit limits were reduced. Changes were made regarding how brain trauma in vehicle accidents is assessed. Under the old Accident Benefit rules (pre-June 1, 2016) the Glasgow Coma Scale was used to determine brain injury.
Now the Glasgow Outcome Scale, or Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale, is used (see the new regulation here – section 4ii). While the exact differences between the two are beyond our expertise, it is this change that resulted in the man’s injuries being classified as severe and NOT catastrophic. That, in turn, determined how much money he could expect to receive for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care from his car insurance provider.
What Steps Can You Take to Protect Your Family?
This accident, like many of its kind, creates lasting trauma, not only for the victim, but, as we’ve learned from the CBC article, for the victim’s family as well. As insurance experts it is our job to inform our clients about changes to auto insurance and advise what options are available to protect them and their family.
While there is nothing we can do to change the definition of catastrophic injury there are options available that would help pay for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care costs for severe injuries that result from a car accident.
There are many benefits for those injured in car accidents; income replacement, home maintenance, death and funeral, and indexation. For this article we’re going to focus on the Medical, Rehabilitation, and Attendant Care (MRA) coverage.
The standard accident benefits for MRA for auto policies provide up to $65,000 for severe injuries. That is a drop of $21,000 in coverage from pre-June 1, 2016 policies. For any injury deemed minor there is a hard limit of $3,500. However, for severe and catastrophic injury coverage you have options for MRA. They are:
- $130,000 for non-catastrophic (injuries identified as severe)
- $1,000,000 for all injuries ($1,000,000 limit for all severe injuries and increases the catastrophic limit from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000)
- $1,000,000 for catastrophic injuries only (when purchased with the $1,000,000 all injury option catastrophic injury coverage increases to $3,000,000)
As the CBC article outlines car accidents can cause severe and lasting injuries therefore it’s vital to begin rehabilitation as quickly as possible. But rehabilitation costs can be expensive. It’s important to contact your broker and discuss what options are available for you and your family.
What Steps Should Your Company Take to Protect Your Employees?
As an employer it is your job to ensure that your employees understand what coverages are available to them under your company, or commercial, car insurance policy. You can opt to increase the basic coverages for all drivers or you can opt not to, the choice is yours, but notifying your employees about what levels of rehabilitation coverages are available is your responsibility. Why? Because in the event of an injury arising out of an accident with a company vehicle the driver and any passenger can apply to your car insurance company for injury benefits.
Your commercial broker can help you decide on what options you want for your business car insurance and accordingly can make recommendations as to how best to alert your employees who drive company vehicles.
Does OHIP Cover Medical Expenses for Car Accidents?
OHIP does not provide funds for Medical, Rehabilitation, and Attendant Care costs for injuries that result from a car accident. For that reason items such as special beds, special vehicles, installing wheel chair access to homes, even crutches, to name a few, are not covered under OHIP. That’s why we strongly recommend purchasing increased limits such as the $1,000,000 all injuries option and the $1,000,000 catastrophic injury option to provide for your needs should you be injured in a car accident.
One More Thing to Further Complicate this Complicated Issue
Changes are occurring for Group Health Benefits as a result companies offerings to their employees may change, too. Some group health benefits providers are stating they will not cover injury benefits for injuries sustained in automobile accidents. This means you really need to understand what your company group benefits will provide. What do you and your family get, at what levels, and with what waiting periods?
Consequently, comparing those benefits to ones offered under an Ontario Car Insurance policy is paramount.
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Thank you for reading.
Lackner McLennan and Erb and Erb create these informational articles and blog posts with the intention of educating the public about insurance and investment related matters. This article does not substitute for broker advice regarding your specific insurance or investment needs. For a comprehensive strategy to tackle what you, your family, or your business, may need we invite you to speak directly to a broker who can guide you through all the options available to you.