On September 1, 2010, the face of Accident Benefits in Ontario changed significantly. Benefits that were once standard to every motorist with valid car insurance in Ontario were now a thing of the past.
It is 2.5 years since those changes took effect. Many of the coverage options that were once common are now hidden as “optional coverage.” The question is, have you been made aware of this optional coverage? If you or a loved one be involved in a car accident, you may be horrified to discover that you are being under compensated because you were not made aware of the optional coverage changes.
Certain benefits, such as income replacement benefits (IRB), for those who are injured and cannot return to work, do indeed remain within a standard insurance policy. However, there is now a maximum of $400 per week coverage in such a package. You may not know that you can increase this IRB coverage to $1,000.00 per week. If you do not do this, then you will have no opportunity to recover more then $400.00 per week in income replacement benefits should you be injured.
Simply put, the onus is on consumers to properly inform themselves when assessing and purchasing car insurance.
Benefits such as housekeeping expenses and caregiving expenses for children were not immune to the changes, either. These benefits must now be purchased as options, period. That leaves Ontario motorists with a choice: purchase these optional benefits at an increased cost, or do not purchase them and remain with a standard insurance package which, literally overnight, became less coverage then what you had prior to September 1, 2010.
What if you had not purchased these optional benefits because no one ever told you about the changes? In the matter of Zefferino v. Meloche Monnex Insurance, The Ontario court of Appeal made it clear: if you are not offered optional benefits, you are probably out of luck. You will not have a cause of action against an insurer or broker unless you can establish that you would have purchased these optional benefits even if they were properly explained to you.
Simply put, the onus is on consumers to properly inform themselves when assessing and purchasing car insurance. Unfortunately, many of these consumers will only learn this lesson after they have been injured and require the benefits they have not purchased.
Ontario motorists cannot expect those selling insurance to be completely forthcoming with all of the available coverage. The courts have made it clear that they will not hold insurers and brokers liable for not informing clients of this prospective coverage. Therefore, it is up to every motorist who purchases insurance in Ontario to use resources such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada website to find out what is available when shopping for car insurance. Further to that, be sure to ask your broker lots of questions until you feel comfortable with your insurance package and everything in it.
Carefully consider your options before purchasing a policy, lest you find yourself with insufficient insurance when an accident happens. By then, it will be too late.