Despite the fact that Ontario law requires all drivers to carry automobile insurance, approximately 2,100 motor vehicles involved in Ontario collisions each year are uninsured. Usually, when a person is injured in an accident with an uninsured vehicle, he or she can still access the statutory accident benefits (SABs) provided by his or her own auto insurance.
But what if nobody involved in an accident carries auto insurance? Although this is thankfully relatively rare in Ontario, it does happen — particularly in hit-and-run accidents involving pedestrians. In such circumstances, Ontario law provides a safety net for injured individuals: the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF).
The MVACF was established in the 1960s to serve as the payer of last resort for Ontarians injured in automobile accidents. When no other insurance coverage is available, the MVACF can step in to provide both SABs and compensation for property damage and personal injury.
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The MVACF and SABs
are one of the two main components of auto insurance in Ontario. These benefits include:
- Income replacement up to $400 per week while a claimant is unable to work following an accident.
- Medical rehabilitations, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and medical devices.
- Attendant care, including payment for an aide at home while the claimant recovers.
SABs are available regardless of fault in an accident. When both drivers involved in an accident are insured, each will look to his or her own insurer for SABs. However, in the rare case in which no insurer is responsible for a claimant’s SABs, the MVACF will step in as the payer of last resort, as explained below.
When MVACF Will Pay
The MVACF only pays SABs when no other insurer is required to. The Insurance Act establishes the priority of payers for SABs claims. Under section 268(2) of the Act, the entity liable for a claimant’s accident benefits following an accident is:
- The insurer of any automobile as to which the individual is an insured.
- If recovery is unavailable under (1), then the insurer of the automobile (a) in which the individual was an occupant at the time of the accident; or (b) if the individual was not in a car at that time, then the insurer of the automobile that struck him or her.
- If recovery is not available under (1) or (2), then the insurer of any automobile involved in the accident.
- If recovery is unavailable under (1), (2), or (3), then the MVACF.
However, the MVACF can only be liable if both of the following conditions are met:
- The claimant is a resident of Ontario; and
- The accident occurred in Ontario.
Submitting a SABs Claim to MVACF
To apply for SABs with the MVACF, a claimant must provide all the following:
- A completed form OCF-1, the Application for Accident Benefits;
- A signed consent for collection, use, and disclosure of personal information;
- A completed Form 3, the Application for Statutory Accident Benefits;
- The police report concerning the accident; and
- A letter that confirms the claimant is not a named insured as a spouse or dependent.
The MVACF and Tort Claims
The other major component of Ontario auto insurance is fault-based third-party liability coverage. When a person is injured by the fault of another driver, he or she can sue the other driver and seek compensation through that driver’s third-party liability coverage.
If the other driver was uninsured, and no insurance coverage is otherwise available for the injured individual, then he or she can seek compensation for his or her damages from the MVACF in addition to applying for SABs.
What MVACF Will Pay
The MVACF will pay for property damage or personal injury caused by an uninsured driver. Compensation for property damage is limited to $10,000 per uninsured vehicle and per accident. For personal injuries, the MVACF will cover both general (non-pecuniary) and special (pecuniary) damages up to $200,000 per uninsured vehicle and per accident.
Submitting a Claim to MVACF
Property damage claims of $3,000 or less do not require filing a lawsuit. Instead, the claimant can simply apply for compensation by providing the following to the MVACF:
- An Application for Payment Under Section 4;
- The police report;
- Damage estimates or repair invoices; and
- Consent for collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.
Other claims, including for property damage in excess of $3,000 and personal-injury claims, require filing a lawsuit. The lawsuit will be against the other driver, if his or her identity is known, or, if not, then against the Ontario Superintendent of Financial Services. In either case, the claimant must follow strict requirements to be able to recover from the MVACF.
Have you been injured in Ontario without insurance?
Although the MVACF is an important part of Ontario’s automobile insurance system, applying for payments from it is not as straightforward a process as one might hope. Incomplete or missing paperwork, or a failure to follow the MVACF’s strict procedures for applying for benefits, can result in delay or rejection of an injured driver’s application.
If you’ve been injured by an uninsured driver, or if you’ve been injured in a car accident and you do not have your own policy to rely on, you should contact the lawyers of Preszler Law Firm in Ontario for help obtaining the benefits and compensation you deserve.