Make certain you read your insurance policy renewal

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I wrote about he changes earlier in the summer, but I am going to remind you again. Car insurance benefits were significantly reduced in the summer, and as your policy comes up for renewal you will have the option to increase some of the benefits. None of us want to be in a car accident, let alone one where personal injury occurs, however, as a driver you should be fully protected in the event you are hurt in a car crash. Costs of treatment escalate VERY quickly and the new maximum benefit for a ‘minor’ injury will be exhausted very quickly, often before you are recovered. This can leave you paying out of pocket for your treatment.

You should read your policy renewal very carefully and talk with your insurer about what increases are beneficial for you. Policy renewal is the time to add or delete coverages. In this case I suggest adding coverage. Ask your broker what the additional premiums cost. In most cases they are much less than you think, and if you are in a serious car accident you will have adequate coverage to cover your needs.

When you get your new policy, compare it and the coverages to your old one. Compare the premiums as well. You may have gotten a premium reduction of a hundred dollars, but that came at a steep price in case of accident. Understand exactly what your coverage includes. Do you have income replacement? Do you know what your deductibles are? Have you gotten all the discounts you are entitled to (multi line, multi-vehicles, safe driver, snow tires etc.)?

If you are not satisfied with your premiums or your service, or if you have been with the same company for a long time then it may be worth your while to shop around for other quotes. Again, the time to do this is BEFORE you renew your policy. It doesn’t take very long to do, and can save you thousands of dollars a year depending upon your needs, and your coverages.

I know that I’ve focussed on this issue quite a bit, however, I deal with injured clients every day who are battling insurance companies for fair settlement of their personal injury cases. I cannot over emphasize how quickly the settlement amounts disappear once fees are paid, services provided, examinations/assessments conducted and therapies provided. Housekeeping, income lost, actual therapy and drug treatment costs escalate quickely even in minor injuries. In the case of catastrophic injuries the new $1,000.000 is not adequate for a lifetime of care.

It’s important to remember that OHIP pays only very limited benefits for physiotherapy or occupational therapy, that drugs and other medical devices are not covered in most cases, and that once you run out of insurance benefits you will need to take very hard decisions about care costs.

 FSCO published a fantastic summary of the changes and what they mean to you. I strongly suggest you read it and understand it.

Most significant changes

 
Whether you are buying a new policy or renewing an existing one, you should be aware of the most significant changes to statutory accident benefits:

 

Benefit

Current Policy

New Policy

Medical and Rehabilitation for non-catastrophic injuries

$50,000

 

These benefits have been combined and reduced to $65,000 total ?

Attendant Care for non-catastrophic injuries

$36,000

Medical and Rehabilitation for catastrophic injuries

$1,000,000

 

 

These benefits have been combined and reduced to $1,000,000 total ?

Attendant Care for catastrophic injuries

$1,000,000

 
Some important things to remember about these benefits:

 

  • If you have previously chosen to purchase optional benefits to increase these amounts, check your policy – they may have changed to reflect amounts available in new options.
  • Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits for minor injuries are fixed at a maximum limit of $3,500.

The optional benefits available for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care have also changed:

 

Current Optional Benefit

Optional Benefit available on or after 
June 1, 2016

 

Non-catastrophic injuries

 

Medical and Rehabilitation for non-catastrophic injuries $100,000

$72,000 and $100,000 options have been eliminated.

 

New: Combined Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care of $130,000** for non-catastrophic injuries.

 

If you have previously chosen to purchase these optional benefits check your policy or contact your agent or broker – they may have changed to reflect the amount available in this new option. 

 
 

?Attendant Care for non-catastrophic injuries

$72,000

 
 

Catastrophic injuries

 

?Not available

New: Combined Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care of $1,000,000 for catastrophic injuries only.?

 

 

The $1,000,000 Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care optional benefit for all injuries (non-catastrophic and catastrophic) remains unchanged. If you have previously chosen to purchase this optional benefit it will appear on your new policy.

The chart below illustrates the overall benefit limits available depending on which optional benefit or combination of optional benefits you purchase, if any:

Options:
Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care

Maximum for 
Non-catastrophic injuries

Maximum for
catastrophic injuries

Standard: No options purchased

$65,000**

$1 million

$130,000 combined (non-catastrophic injuries)*

$130,000**

$1 million

$1 million (all injuries)*

$1 million

$2 million

$1 million (catastrophic injuries)

$65,000**

$2 million

Combinations:

$130,000 combined (non-catastrophic injuries) 
+ $1 million (catastrophic injuries)

$130,000**

$2 million

$1 million (all injuries) + $1 million (catastrophic injuries)

$1 million

$3 million

*$130,000 optional combined (non-catastrophic injuries) and $1 million optional (all injuries) cannot be purchased together.** Duration of benefit is five (5) years for adults.

There are many other options available to purchase additional or increased benefits and coverages. The following chart lists some but not all of those and indicates if those options changed on June 1. You can also choose not to increase any benefit or coverage. If you have previously purchased any optional benefits, you should review your renewal documents as they may have changed.

Benefit/Coverage

Current Policy

New Policy

You can choose

Income Replacement benefit

70 per cent of gross income up to $400 per week.

No change

To increase the weekly limit to $600, $800 or $1,000 per week.

Caregiver benefit

Available only for catastrophic injuries: Up to $250 per week for the first dependant plus $50 for each additional dependant.

No change

To make the same amounts available in current policy for catastrophic injuries available for all injuries.

Housekeeping and Home Maintenance expenses

Available only for catastrophic injuries: Up to $100 per week.

No change 

To make the same amounts available in current policy for catastrophic injuries available for all injuries.

Death and Funeral benefits

$25,000 lump sum to an eligible spouse; $10,000 lump sum to each dependant; maximum $6,000 funeral benefits.

No change

$50,000 lump sum to an eligible spouse; $20,000 lump sum to each dependant; maximum $8,000 funeral benefits.

Dependant Care benefit

Not provided

Not provided

To purchase this benefit and add up to $75 per week for the first dependant and $25 per week for each additional dependant to a maximum of $150 per week.

Indexation benefit

Not provided

Not provided

To add an annual adjustment for inflation for many benefits according to the Consumer Price Index for Canada to your policy.

Third Party Liability

$200,000 minimum for claims as a result of lawsuits against you.

No change

Options exist to increase the minimum amount.

Tort Deductible

$36,905.40 deductible for court awarded compensation for pain and suffering (Jan 1-Dec 31, 2016).

No change

Reduce deductible by $10,000 regardless of annual indexation percentage increases.

 

 

What else is new? 

 
Other key changes include:

 

 

 

Minor Accident

Insurers can no longer use a minor at-fault accident that occurs on or after June 1, 2016 meeting certain criteria to increase your premiums.  The criteria include that no payment has been made by any insurer, that there are no injuries, and that damages to each car and property were less than $2,000 per car and were paid by the at-fault driver. This provision is limited to one minor accident every three years.

Interest Rate for

Monthly Payment

Plans  

The maximum interest rate that insurers can charge if you make monthly premium payments has been lowered from 3% to 1.3% for one year policies, with corresponding reductions for shorter terms.

Comprehensive Deductible

The standard deductible for Comprehensive coverage has been increased from $300 to $500. 
 

 

Non-Earner benefit

The six-month waiting period for people who are not working to receive benefits has been reduced to four weeks. Conversely, benefits can now only be received for up to two years after the accident.

Duration of Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits

For all claimants except children, the amount of time that you can receive this standard benefit is now five years for non-catastrophic injuries, and it will be paid only as long as you remain medically eligible.