OTTAWA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER -The long-awaited five year review on car insurance was released today by the Superintendent of FSCO. FSCO is the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the body that oversees insurance in Ontario.
In the report are 39 recommendations for the reform of auto insurance. The changes are focused mainly on creating savings from statutory accident benefits. Statutory accident benefits are the no-fault benefits available after an accident, regardless of fault. Many people think they are too expensive and too cumbersome.
We are still reading the 5-year review, however, one important recommendations urges the government to consider easing the restrictions on the ability of injured victims to sue the people who caused an accident. The Superintendent suggests:
1. Reducing the deductible on non-pecuniary general damages from $30,000 to $20,000. This is very important! Right now if your damages for pain and suffering are less than $100,000, the insurance company does not have to pay the first $30,000. Talk about a “tax on pain”;
2. Reducing the deductible on Family Law Act claims from $15,000 to $10,000.Also important. If your loved one loses your care and companionship, the insurance company does not have to pay the first $15,000. Given that these awards are very low to begin with, the deductible often wipes the damages out altogether.
3. Eliminating the $15,000 deductible on fatal accident claims; This one should be pretty obvious!
4. Revoking the regulation defining the “Verbal Threshold”. Right now you can only sue if you have a serious and permanent injury The Verbal Threshold are those words “serious” and “permanent”. (The requirement is more complicated than that, but this is a blog post so that will have to do!) A few years ago the government published a regulation that attempted to narrow who could sue by defining “serious and permanent” in a restrictive sense. The regulation was particularly restrictive for injured people who were not in the workforce, such as retirees, homemakers and the unemployed.
If these changes came to pass, Ontario would have a more fairer tort claim system. Tell your member of provincial parliament that you support the tort reform proposed in the 5-year review! They need to hear from you.
UPDATE: As I continue to research the recommendations by the FSCO Superintendent, I note other interesting recommendations.
Insurance companies may like these:
• a single health professional to direct a claimant’s rehabilitation. The concept is that this will reduce the chance of a multiple treating professionals making interventions in the claims process. Simplify.
• capping the cost of completing forms (including any assessment required to complete the form) at $200, and capping all other assessment costs at $2,000. This one can be tricky. You can’t get treatment if you can’t get it approved. You can’t get it approved if you don’t get an assessment. You don’t get an assessment if the practitioner won’t do one for the insurance company’s rate;
• limiting availability of in-home assessments to seriously injured claimants only. Hmm…What does serious mean? In home visits by occupational therapists are sometimes the life line for injured victims; and
• converting mandatory housekeeping and home maintenance expenses and caregiver benefits into optional benefits that can be purchased or not. This suggestion makes sense as long as the insurance brokers who sell accident benefit policies are well educated on advising their customers about the options.
In addition to the reduction in the thresholds discussed in the post below, accident victims will like:
• Further consultation with experts in the field to amend the definition of “catastrophic impairment.” This definition is tricky and somewhat mysterious. The level of accident benefits you receive after an accident depends on whether or not you are “cat”. And yet, unless you are paraplegic, quadriplegic, blind or in a few other specific categories, it sure is tough right now to know if you qualify for the higher level of benefits.
• The accident benefit forms and application process will be simplified. Halleluja! The forms are basically impossible for anyone without a law degree. And even then…; Many, many people show up on my office doorstep simply because they cannot complete the forms. I suspect a pleasant offshoot of this reform for insurance companies will be fewer lawyer involvements.
Have you been involved in an Ontario accident and obtained injuries? An Ottawa personal injury lawyer knows the most up-to-date information on your insurance benefits. For more information, contact the Ottawa lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 860-4529.