Significant Changes to Your Accident Benefits Coverage
After September 1, 2010, you have far less coverage if you have the misfortune of being involved in a motor vehicle collision. Your insurer may have informed you by now that you will have “more coverage options” when it comes time to renew your automobile insurance policy. The fact is, consumers will now have much less protection than they previously had, unless they purchase ‘Optional Benefits’ coverage.
The changes to the standard policy come in the form of changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). Some of the changes to the SABS that will affect all of us include the following:
- Medical & Rehabilitation Benefits: the basic coverage for non-catastrophic injuries has been reduced from $100,000 down to $50,000.
- Housekeeping Benefits: these benefits have been eliminated except in cases of catastrophic injuries. These benefits were formerly available to all claimants for at least two years, up to $100 per week.
- Caregiver Benefits: these benefits have been eliminated except in cases of catastrophic injuries. These benefits were formerly available to people who were substantially unable to engage in caregiving activities at $250 per week for the first person in need plus $50 per week for all other persons in need of care.
- Attendant Care Benefits: these benefits have been reduced in cases of non- catastrophic injuries, from $72,000 to $36,000 over two years.
- Assessment Costs: All fees and expenses for conducting assessments, examinations and preparing reports are to be paid out of medical & rehabilitation limits (excluding insurer examinations and accounting reports for income replacement benefits). These expenses were formerly paid by the insurer out of a separate category of benefits with no monetary limit.
- Maximum Cost of Assessments: Absolute cap of $2,000 for any assessment or examination. There was formerly no cap on the costs of assessments and examinations.
- Minor Injuries: People who suffer what is defined as a ‘minor injury’ will be entitled to medical & rehabilitation benefit limits of only $3,500. This concept of a ‘minor injury’ is new and it did not formerly exist. Most injuries that do not include a fracture, internal injury, or a head injury may be classified as a ‘minor injury’.
These changes only apply to crashes that occur after September 1, 2010. However, if you are in a crash after September 1, 2010, but before you renew your automobile insurance policy you are entitled to the majority of the benefits available before September 1, 2010. It is important that you are aware of when your policy renewed to determine your rights.
Purchasing Optional Benefits from your insurer is now even more important. Optional Benefits can restore your accident benefits coverage to their former levels. You can purchase Optional Benefits at any time and not just on the renewal date of your policy. Make sure you speak with your insurance broker or agent regarding the Optional Benefits available to you and how you can protect your family in the event of an auto crash.
There are additional changes to the SABS that will affect all consumers, however the major changes are listed above. Fortunately, the levels of benefits available in cases of catastrophic injury have not been reduced.
To learn more about the changes to the SABS, please contact Oatley, Vigmond and ask for a copy of our Automobile Insurance Manual, 6’th Edition.
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