We have been really rattled over the recent budget for the year 2015-16 by the government with massive changes to auto insurance being tabled that will further restrict access to accident benefits for those injured, and put the medical and rehabilitative needs of Ontarians in jeopardy. We feel compelled to reach out to others to help us advocate on behalf of those that need these benefits the most.
Under the heading “Taking Further Action to Protect Auto Insurance Consumers and Ensure Affordable Premiums” the budget uses deceptive language. For example the government will “change the standard benefit level” under the province’s mandatory auto coverage, to $65,000 and to “include attendant care services under this benefit limit.”
Currently the standard accident benefit schedule provides $50,000 for medical and rehabilitation benefits and $36,000 for attendant care. Those amounts are half the mandatory coverage required prior to 2010. Put more clearly, this is a reduction from $86,000 to $65,000. For the average reader who does not know the details of their insurance policy, the terminology sounds like they are now adding attendant care services, when in reality it is being drastically cut and rolled into the medical and rehab benefits.
Some of the other key changes are as follows:
- The mandatory coverage for catastrophically impaired claimants will be cut in half. Going forward, $1 million will include attendant care and medical and rehabilitation benefits, whereas currently, claimants with a catastrophic designation have access to $1 million in attendant care benefits and $1 million in medical and rehab benefits.
- The definition of catastrophic impairment will be “updated”, but no description of what that definition has been provided for consideration.
- The standard duration of medical and rehabilitation benefits from will be cut in half from 10 years to five.
The recently enacted Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 continually proposes changes to auto insurance regulations under the guise that it will lower car insurance premiums and eliminate fraud. The reality is that these changes withhold money from injury victims and their families and keep it in the pockets of insurance companies, who have been recording record profits.
It is the right of Ontario citizens to expect that legislators will put the needs and interest of collision victims above the rights of already very wealthy insurance companies. To reduce the available coverage to such a great degree will certainly result in those injured receiving less privately funded medical and rehabilitation and end up relying on the already overburdened and overly strained publicly funded health care system.
Please take the time to voice your concerns. These changes will greatly impact all of us when we need medical and rehabilitative assistance the most.
Contact your local MPP.
Thank you in advance for your help and consideration.