Changes to auto insurance in Ontario last June were designed to save people money. But some of the consequences of cheaper insurance are now coming to light, and one of the major ones is the benefits that go to people who suffer a catastrophic injury in a car accident.
Prior to June 1, $2 million was available to those who had such an injury, which often includes people with a traumatic head injury, spinal cord injury or amputation. Even that amount of money, which seems like a lot, was often insufficient for people who will require lifelong daily care due to their injuries.
Under the new insurance rules, the maximum for catastrophic injuries is now just $1 million. But even more importantly, the rules for assessing whether someone has suffered a catastrophic injury are different, and far fewer injured people will qualify under the new rules.
The assessment used to happen almost immediately, so the person could quickly access funds for treatment and rehabilitation. But now accident victims must wait for months before they are evaluated to see if their injuries are catastrophic. This means enormous stress for family members, financial hardship and a reduced chance of successful treatment due to the delay.
Motorists in Ontario can choose to purchase increased benefits so they are covered adequately. The increase in your insurance premiums will be modest, but knowing you are covered if you or a family member is seriously injured makes the price well worth it.