Auto Insurance legislation – Have the scales of justice been weighted against car accident injury victims?
In recent years, many auto injury lawyers feel there has been a trend towards legislation that deteriorates the rights of those injured in motor vehicle accidents. There have been many changes – but here a few that immediately come to mind:
Ontario Regulation 34/10 – New SAB’s
Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule (SABs) that came into effect September1, 2010 amending the catastrophic impairment definition and reducing catastrophic and non-catastrophic benefit limits along with non-earner benefits.
Ontario 2016 Auto Insurance Reforms
- Further amendment to Catastrophic Impairment Definition
- Cutting rehabilitation and care or those catastrophically impaired in half
- Coverage limits for medications were at $50,000 and rehabilitation and attendant care was at $36,000. These benefits have now been combined and reduced from $86,000 for both to $65,000 for both.
- Benefits for those who are not employed at the time of the injury have been maxed out at 2 years. Before the June 1st changes these non-earner benefits were payable for life.
- Rehabilitation periods for non-catastrophic injures cut in half from 10 years of coverage to a meager 5 years.
Change from FSCO to AABS/LAT/SLASTO –
The License Appeal Tribunal that replaced the FSCO has now eliminated the option for mediation in accident benefit disputes – leaving no option to launch a lawsuit against the insurance company.
Some say that it comes down to ethical and informed decision-making. In the past, when major changes to automobile insurance legislation was being proposed – the Ontario Government would seek input from a wide variety of industry professionals, stakeholders and consumer advocates. But many recent policy changes have come as a complete blindside to those representing the rights of car accident injury victims.
Ontario law requires that all motorists have auto insurance. Mandatory auto insurance is meant to protect Ontario drivers and passengers in the event of an accident; But when legislation significantly reduces benefits and rights to compensation to a point of alarming proportion – many people are left wondering; Who are these laws meant to protect?
Contemplation and Conversation
Legislators say that many of these new auto insurance laws are directed at reducing automobile insurance premiums and thus benefit the consumer. But if you pay slightly less and get much, much less – does that really mean you have saved? Are the savings in premiums in balance with the benefits that are being removed?
“Good intentions don’t always result in good laws. These laws may appear to have good intentions — although in many cases they actually do more harm to the consumer than good.”
When many of these policies are examined, many industry professionals and lawmakers feel that the practical outcomes of recent legislation have not benefited Ontario drivers – but instead have only further boosted record profits being made by insurance companies.
In January of 2016, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO -the government body that regulates the insurance sector) issued the a report that showed approved rates only decreased on average by 0.15 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.
In response to this FSCO report, Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP Jagmeet Singh was quoted saying:
“The profit margins right now of the insurance companies, when it comes specifically to the auto insurance product, are phenomenal and it’s out of those profits that the government should bring the premiums down,”
In a independent report by York university and commissioned by Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) it was estimated that estimate that Ontario drivers may have overpaid for auto insurance by between $3 and $4 billion over the period 2001 to 2013.”
At the Kahler Personal Injury Law firm we advocate for legislation that supports our legal profession and its true purpose of protecting those who have been injured. We support legislation that is in the best interest of injured plaintiffs – not those of the lawyers representing them or the insurance companies looking to reduce injury compensation . We want legislators to pass auto insurance laws that put drivers and their passengers first. When they don’t; those injured in accidents are dealt a second blow.
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