What Insurance Cuts Mean For Drivers in Ontario
Changes to Ontario’s auto insurance policies have sparked controversy amongst auto accident victims and drivers alike. In this video segment, John Philp appears on the Morning Show TO to speak about the province’s no-fault system, and what this might mean for you. If you have any specific questions, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case, call us today at 1-800-JUSTICE.
LIZA: Well this week, Ontario auto accident victims are protesting against the cuts to auto insurance coverage. Ontario already has the highest premiums in Canada, and the lowest coverage. And about half of all claims are turned down by insurers, which means benefits are too difficult to access. Joining us to explain why and what it means for you is John Philp from Preszler Law. Good Morning.
JOHN: Good morning to you.
LIZA: Okay. This is a big topic.
JOHN: It is.
LIZA: So if you are in an accident, we have no fault, so let’s assume you’ve done nothing wrong. How does that proceed?
JOHN: Well, if you’re - you’re in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, um, you’re absolutely right, it’s a no-fault system in the sense that no matter what happens in the accident, even if you’re sitting at the light and someone rear-ends you from behind, and you’re hurt, you have to apply to your own insurance company for what are called “accident benefits.” You have coverage for medical rehabilitations, so, physiotherapy, chiropractic work. You have income replacement benefits, if you can’t go back to work, up to a maximum of $400 a week. You also have attendant care benefits. If, you know, you need someone to come and help you at home, a PSW, et cetera.
LIZA: That doesn’t sound like a lot, if you’re hurt and you can’t work. So what happens if you want to - essentially, go after more money? Is that when someone comes to talk to you?
JOHN: Well, yeah, absolutely. There’s, there’s kinda two sides of the same coin here, is how I explain it to, to our clients, in the sense that you can go after your own insurance company for your own benefits, but you would also pursue the at-fault driver in a civil lawsuit. So you can pursue pain and suffering damages, you can pursue income loss damages above and beyond what’s going to be covered by your own insurance. And there’s various other categories of compensation you can seek in the civil lawsuit, not covered by these benefits.
LIZA: Okay, and that would be the same whether you are another motorist, whether you are a pedestrian, or on a bicycle, all the same?
JOHN: Well that’s, that’s where it becomes very interesting, because - say you’re a pedestrian. You’re just going for a walk, and you’re going across the crosswalk, and someone hits you. And you don’t have a car. You don’t have insurance. Then you can actually apply to the insurance company of the vehicle that hit you for your accident benefits. And of course, you can also pursue a civil lawsuit against that driver.
LIZA: So if you apply for benefits to your insurance company, why would you be turned down, and what can you do if you are turned down?
JOHN: Well, that’s - hah. That’s a very broad question, in the sense that there’s a lot to it. But, inevitably, what happens, let’s say you need medical rehabilitation. And a lot of the times, what happens in cases that we deal with, people have injuries like whiplash or severe muscle spasms, things like that developing from car accidents. There’s various categories involved in these accident benefits for medical rehabilitation. There’s the minor injury guideline, which only allows for $3,500 in medical rehabilitation. Then, there’s the next category up, which is $50,000 for medical rehabilitation. Um, the problem is, a lot of the time, the insurance company will put you into this first category because they believe your injury to be minor. And you only have $3,500 available to you for medical rehabilitation.
JOHN: Um, and we can help get people out of that category, but it’s a very onerous process. You have to go through a commission, you have to go through a process that can sometimes take up to a year and a half before you’re out of that category.
LIZA: And there’s some big changes coming as well, aren’t they not?
JOHN: There has been some very big changes, to the detriment, frankly, of accident victims. And a lot of people, I don’t think, know about this. The April 2015 budget came down with some very serious changes, basically eroding the amount of money that’s going to be available to people through their no-fault system. Whereas it used to be $50,000 for medical rehabilitation, and $36,000 for attendant care, they are now combining these amounts to a total of $65,000. Um, so, you used to also have a ten-year entitlement to these medical rehabilitation benefits - they’re now chopping that down to five years. So, some very significant changes, to the detriment, as far as I’m concerned, of accident victims.
LIZA: John Philp, thank you so much, from Preszler Law, and if you have any personal injury questions for John and his team at Preszler, visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/Morning ShowTO. Thank you.
JOHN: Thank you.
LIZA: Let’s take a look at traffic now. Here’s Kim.