In 2016, the Ontario Government tightened the definition of what it means to be catastrophically injured when one is involved in a motor vehicle accident and claiming Accident Benefits. The definition change was made to lower car insurance premiums, and to provide better access to benefits for those who actually need them. Sounds good, right?
While the new legislation has resulted in fewer benefits being awarded to catastrophically injured, it has also significantly limited the support people can access after they have faced a life-changing situation.
Most people who used to be classified as catastrophically impaired are finding themselves no longer fitting into this category under the government’s new definition. But what if someone still requires around the clock care as a result of an automobile accident?
The market rates for this type of care can easily cost from $150,000 – $200,000 per year. The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) will only pay $72,000 a year.
Benefits are not likely to cover all expenses and, to make matters worse, the entitled benefits will run out after roughly 13 years. Put into perspective, someone is in a serious accident at the age 23, attendant care will become unaffordable by 36 if not sooner.
Before the definition change, those considered catastrophically impaired were entitled to $1 million for medical benefits and another $1 million for attendant care. After the change, those in this category are entitled to a combined sum of $1 million – meaning, half of the benefits have been cut! In fact, prior to the changes, approximately 900 people a year were considered catastrophically impaired, thus entitled to claim benefits up to $2,000,000. Now, approximately 700 of those people would no longer be considered Catastrophically impaired, thus reducing their benefit coverage to $65,000 for medical and attendant care.
What started as a tool to lower auto insurance premiums for drivers hasn’t translated into savings for the driving taxpayer.
I believe the implications of this change outweighs any benefits. I am currently writing position papers and am actively in discussions with other stakeholders and you too can make a difference by taking action.
Take an interest in upcoming elections and speak out on the negative implications of this change.