The recent amendments in statutory accident benefits (SABS) that took effect on June 1st, 2016, are just one reason why Ontario drivers and vehicle owners should review their auto insurance coverage. One of the key changes affecting anyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident is a reduction, by half, in maximum medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefits available in the event of catastrophic injury (as described in a recent article on changes to statutory accident benefits). Instead of receiving a maximum benefit of $1 Million each for medical/rehabilitation and attendant care, someone who is catastrophically injured can claim only up to $1 Million in total under their statutory benefits. There has also been a similar reduction in maximum allowable benefit available for anyone who experiences non-catastrophic injuries (when injuries exceed the minor injury guideline under SABS). All Ontario vehicle owners should have received recent notification of these changes from their motor vehicle insurance provider.
A reduction in the amount of money available to pay for medical care if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, is not the only issue that may affect your access to needed insurance coverage. Vehicle policyholders should be aware that they are not covered under their auto insurance policy if their vehicle is broken into and anything is stolen, that is not permanently affixed to their vehicle. This includes cell phones, computers, sports equipment, cash and other articles. To protect the contents of your vehicle, you require property insurance, which will ensure that your personal belongings are protected when you are on the road, not only when parked at home.
Another issue of which vehicle owners need to be aware is the fact that your vehicle insurance only covers you for the value of your vehicle at the time it is insured. This means that if you make modifications to your vehicle to improve its value, such as installing air conditioning or alterations to its appearance, you need to inform your insurer to make certain that you are properly insured.
If your motor vehicle is insured under a personal insurance policy, but is used for business activities such as to deliver food or packages, you need to advise your insurer to find out whether you have the appropriate coverage in place. In the event of an accident during the course of a commercial or business activity, you may discover that you are not covered for losses or liability if you only have personal insurance coverage. Some of the business activities that require business or commercial insurance coverage include: freight delivery, independent contractors who use their trucks to conduct their work, and taxi cabs. For example, a restaurant owner who uses their vehicle to pick up food items or appliances for their business requires commercial insurance. However, it is sometimes unclear whether some activities qualify under commercial or business activities, such as when you use a vehicle to pick up goods for school fundraising, or when carpooling. In such cases, it is a good idea to check with your insurer to find out whether your coverage will apply in the event of an accident.
We generally assume that in the unfortunate event of a car accident, we will be covered by our insurance if someone is injured or there is significant damage to property. However, sometimes vehicle owners are surprised to discover that their access to motor vehicle accident compensation is inadequate, doesn’t apply to their particular losses, or is unfairly challenged by their insurer. This circumstance can be devastating to accident victims and their families, both in terms of significant financial losses and lack of access to funds needed for recovery from serious injury.
In some cases where we believe that we have adequate and appropriate coverage for our losses, insurance companies may deny or minimize owed benefits. If you find yourself in a situation where your insurance benefits were denied or unfairly discontinued, or if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, call the Injury Lawyers of Ontario in your community. ILO lawyers are an affiliation of highly respected and skilled attorneys who provide honest legal advice and zealous representation for their clients. Call ILO for a free, no-obligation consultation in which you can have all your questions answered and learn how your claim or insurance dispute can be successful resolved.