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New changes to Ontario 2015 budget, Insurance Act not looking out for people injured in accidents.

Sweeping changes proposed to the Insurance Act

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Reduction in Accident Benefits

In an effort to reduce insurance rates across the province, the government plans to amend the Insurance Act. In the new 2015 budget, notable amendments include:

·      Catastrophic limits changed to $1 million combined for medical/rehabilitation and Attendant Care (reduced from $2 million to $1 million). Attendant Care was not included in medical/rehabilitation benefits before. 

·      Medical/rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits for non-Catastrophic injuries are to be combined totaling $65,000 (reduced from $86,000 to $65,000)

·      Medical/rehabilitation benefits for non-Catastrophic injuries limited to 5 years instead of 10 years

·      The $30,000 deductible is to increase with inflation (to $36,750)

·      The 6 month waiting period for non-earner benefits is eliminated, but the non-earner benefits will only be available for 2 years.  

·      The $100,000 monetary threshold will increase with inflation

·      An update to the ‘catastrophic impairment’ definition consistent with more up-to-date medical information and knowledge to reflect modern medicine

The amendments can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Finance website:

http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ontariobudgets/2015/ch1f.html

Leaving catastrophic and non-catastrophic injured with little insurance support.

It is difficult to say what effect, if any, this will have on insurance premiums. The one thing that is certain is that the insurance coverage and benefits currently available for catastrophic injury’ and ‘non-catastrophic’ injuries are being chiselled away.  This is not the first time Ontario Accident Benefits have been reduced. This will undoubtedly reduce the amount of benefits our clients are entitled to receive and may ultimately affect their recovery.  For example, an individual suffering from non-catastrophic injuries, which by definition may include a broken ankle, femur, wrist, etc., will be impacted by these changes since the individual will now only be entitled to receive 5 years of medical and rehabilitation benefits as opposed to 10 years. As another example, a 45 year labourer who breaks both ankles and his or her femur (or any other serious injury deemed to be non-catastrophic) will now only receive medical and rehabilitation benefits for 5 years. This would be particularly troubling if this  labourer is required to lift, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time causing a strain on existing injuries. In such a situation the injured individual will often require extensive rehabilitation benefits for periods exceeding five years, should his or her injuries linger, prolonging recovery. With these amendments we will certainly encounter an increasing number of individuals who will have to incur the expense of their treatments out of their own pockets. The same can be said for catastrophic injuries.

As Ottawa personal injury lawyers, we find these changes will benefit the insurance companies and not the people who really need the money to rebuild their lives with serious and permanent injuries.  There seems to be more and more cut backs to benefits and what the insurance company has to pay out and very little in reductions.  To be adequately covered, people will have to buy more and more additional coverage and pay more for insurance, just to receive the benefits they once had. This has got to stop.

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