IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT CHANGES TO YOUR AUTO INSURANCE POLICY
Alliance members treat thousands of people who have sustained serious injuries in car accidents. Some of these clients were drivers, some were passengers, some were pedestrians, and some were cyclists. But all of them were well functioning individuals until a completely unpredictable accident changed their lives forever.
Serious injuries are not like broken legs. And often, there are brain injuries. Brains control every single physical and mental function we perform. Trying to “fix” a damaged brain or a serious physical injury can take years of therapy.
In September 2010, the Ontario government announced sweeping changes to the auto insurance system. Our government, responding to insurance industry concerns about profitability, dramatically cut benefits paid to rehabilitate people who are seriously injured in car accidents.
Prior to September 2010, if you were seriously injured, your auto insurance policy covered assessments and diagnostics (around $50,000, more if you need complex imaging and/or cognitive assessments) plus up to $100,000 in therapy/rehabilitation funding over 10 years. This coverage is important because there are next to no rehabilitation services available through hospitals and home care anymore.
Since September 2010, your assessment, diagnostic and treatment costs together cannot exceed $50,000 over 10 years. This therefore represents a 70% cut to your benefits. But your premiums haven’t been reduced by 70% - in fact, for many people, they have gone up.
While $50,000 may sound like a lot of money, that is just $5,000-10,000 per year, depending on how many years of therapy you need. If you are bedridden, unable to work or go to school, or to look after your family, you may need the services of an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech-language pathologist, psychologist, etc. You may need medications, mobility equipment, and accessibility modifications to your home. Having $600/month to fund your entire rehabilitation needs is grossly insufficient.
Since September 2010, if you want to maintain the level of coverage that you previously had, you have to exercise your option to “buy up”; that is, to purchase a higher level of coverage. You can choose to purchase $100,000 or $1,000,000 in rehabilitation benefits. It is strongly recommended that you purchase $1,000,000 in coverage. Most rehabilitation health professionals have been purchasing this level of coverage for several years and it has cost just an additional $70-100 per year in premiums. This is a pittance in order to obtain crucial rehabilitation services in the event of an accident.
Right now, when you buy your policy, there is a premium for “liability” and a premium for “accident benefits”:
It is obviously important to pay higher premiums to cover someone else’s rehabilitation needs – but isn’t it just as important to pay more to cover your own?
If you have concerns about these massive cuts, please contact your MPP!
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