We all want to avoid being severely injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, serious car accidents happen quite frequently in Ontario and adequate car insurance protection is critical in such circumstances.
While car insurance is mandatory in Ontario, there are important decisions to be made when purchasing automobile insurance that will help provide better protection if something does goes wrong.
Here are four tips for securing adequate car insurance protection when considering and purchasing automobile insurance.
Car Insurance Liability Limits
Liability limits protect you if you are sued for causing a car accident resulting in serious injuries to another person, including circumstances where you have lent your car to someone else (since owners are responsible for actions involving their vehicle under Ontario law).
Most insurers generally promote a standard $1 million liability policy, but that liability limit is totally inadequate.
Surprisingly, Ontario law only requires a $200,000 liability policy to be in place with your motor vehicle. That minimum $200,000 option, however, is never commercially sold because it is relatively useless.
It is long overdue that the minimum limits in Ontario be substantially increased from $200,000 to what I believe is the bare minimum of $2 million. In my view, it would be prudent to purchase a liability policy with $5 million of liability coverage (or at least $3 million) to protect you if you cause a serious car accident.
Family Protection Endorsement
When deciding your liability limits you are also typically deciding the extent of the Family Protection Endorsement limits that should apply.
The Family Protection Endorsement protects you and your family if you are injured through the fault of someone who has inadequate insurance to properly compensate you. In other words, if the person that caused the accident only has $1 million of liability limits, then you are only able to collect from their insurer that $1 million.
If your damages exceed that amount, then you will be faced with the unrealistic scenario of trying to collect off the at-fault person personally (through an asset collection process). Instead, by purchasing Family Protection Endorsement limits that exceed $1 million you can recover additional amounts from your own car insurer in those circumstances.
In Ontario we have a no-fault accident benefit system that provides anyone injured in an accident with the minimum benefits available depending on the severity of their injury.
The benefit limits have consistently been cut by the Ontario government in a purported effort to reduce auto insurance premiums in Ontario (thus hoisting responsibility on our OHIP funded health care system).
The current accident benefit limits (reduced by well in excess of 50% over the years) are wholly inadequate to address the needs of anyone seriously injured.
One solution is for motorists to buy optional benefits to enhance the minimum no-fault accident benefit coverage.
There are several optional benefits available.
The one that appeals to me, and that I recommend, is the one where non-catastrophic injuries (like fractures and concussions) qualify for access to essentially catastrophic impairment benefit limits.
Historically, accessing the catastrophic impairment definition – for example in circumstances where someone sustained a brain injury in an accident – was simple and straightforward and could be addressed within days or weeks following an accident. The new system post-June 1, 2016 delays access to the catastrophic impairment designation in most cases, especially by those suffering from brain injuries, resulting in the injured person and their family having very limited benefits available to them for an extended period of time. The solution is to purchase optional benefits that essentially treat you as catastrophically injured even when you suffer a mild brain injury or a fracture.
When purchasing car insurance it is imperative that you accurately report your living arrangements. Moreover, if circumstances change, you must notify your car insurer of those changes.
Too often we see issues arise with insurance companies trying to invalidate insurance polices on the basis that they were not aware that the person had moved to a city where higher insurance premiums would have applied.
Another example is when there are additional drivers added to the household (such as teenagers getting licensed or a new spouse, etc.), which changes the insurance dynamics and arguably the premiums that the insurer would have charged.
The insurers use these alleged misrepresentations to question their obligations resulting in major delays and uncertainties. Accordingly, it is important that you stay in touch with your insurer and that you properly disclose all relevant facts as circumstances change.
The personal injury trauma lawyers at Thomson Rogers have spent decades assisting thousands of injured Ontario motorists.
By following these four tips for securing adequate car insurance protection above you will put us in a much better position to help you if you need to retain our personal injury services.
At Thomson Rogers we offer free consultation so please feel free to reach out to us at any time. We are here to help.
Darcy Merkur is a highly regarded Ontario trauma lawyer helping accident victims such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, who have sustained catastrophic injuries.
Darcy is the first lawyer in Canada to be qualified as a Certified Brain Injury Specialist by the Brain Injury Association of America. In addition, Darcy has been recognized as a Certified Specialist in Civil Litigation by the Law Society of Ontario, is listed in peer-reviewed publications – Lexpert® and The Best Lawyers™ in Canada, is ranked AV pre-eminent in Martindale-Hubbell ® and is a partner at Thomson Rogers, one of Canada’s Top 10 Personal Injury Law Firms as selected by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.
Darcy can be reached at 416-868-3176 or by EMAIL.