Quiet Changes Cause a Loud Disturbance

Some insurers want Feb. 1 changes to auto insurance benefits applied retroactively. The Ontario government quietly changed the law in December, 2013 effective February 1, 2014 reversing an earlier decision made by the unanimous penal of Judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The insurance industry does not want to pay proper compensation to the caregivers of the accident victims. If your child or a spouse was bedridden because of the car accident and you left your job to look after him/her, your compensation would be limited to the amount of your income. Even if you now work 24/7 your pre-accident (part-time or full time income) will limit how much the insurance company has to pay you. The caregiver can effectively work below the minimum wage. Parents or spouses may have left their jobs to provide attendant care: including feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, transportation to and for clinics, purchasing and and administering medications, or cooking, but they cannot be compensated for their work appropriately because of this new law.

Since attendant care benefits are not available for victims who suffer only minor injuries in car crashes and are significant only for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries, this will harm the most vulnerable victims. This is incredibly mean-spirited. The insurance companies are laughing all the way to the back as the seriously injured car accident victims being robed off essential care yet once again. This approach will certainly lead to numerous disputed claims and delayed payments for attendant care accident benefits. Claims will face lengthy delays as they proceed through the mediation and arbitration or court challenges. The government agency that mediates these disputes was forced to hire another unregulated agency to deal with the backlog. The government passed this regulation without any advance notice or public consultation. This law must be reversed. Neglecting to take this step would show bad faith by the provincial government towards accident victims and a lack of regard for procedural fairness.

I view this reduction in accident benefits as insurance industry attempt to keep its billion dollar profits and shielding themselves to the government’s promise to reduce auto insurance premiums by 15 percent. I don’t remember NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s demand for a 15 percent premium reduction in auto insurance rates being tied to reductions in auto insurance coverage. I don’t recall Premier Kathleen Wynne announcing the 15 percent reduction as part of a package which included less insurance coverage. After all, ANYBODY can promise and deliver an insurance rate reduction WHEN coverage is reduced. Perhaps she believes voters will only remember her demands for the premium reduction and will ignore the fact the reduction is being used as an excuse to reduce coverage and thus harm accident victims and their families.