Know Your Limits: Catastrophic Injuries Under the New Ontario Auto Insurance Rules

It didn’t take long for the new rules on auto insurance to start affecting Ontarians. Adam Bari was in a motorcycle crash in Delhi, Ontario on June 1st, 2016 – the day the new rules came into effect. The difference between what he could have received for compensation under the old rules, and what he actually received under the new rules could mean bankruptcy for his family. If the accident had happened 12 hours earlier, the Bari family would have been eligible to receive up to $2 million in benefits, instead of $86,000 – an amount quickly being eaten up by the care Bari needs after nearly being pronounced dead at the scene of an accident in which his motorcycle was t-boned.

Catastrophic injury classification the main sticking point for Bari family

Under the new auto insurance rules, certain types of brain injuries, like the one that Bari received, may no longer be considered catastrophic since the tools used to determine the severity are no longer used – specifically, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). Bari’s GCS results would have put him in the “catastrophic” category under the old auto insurance rules. While the new guidelines provide more clarity for other types of injuries in certain circumstances, the new guidelines may also make it more difficult to meet the catastrophic definition, in particular for brain injuries, and to be eligible for higher limits of benefits. Since Bari’s injuries did not meet the definition of a catastrophic injury, the maximum benefits that he is entitled to are $86,000.

What do you recommend for my auto insurance?

One of the biggest changes to automobile accident benefits that occurred on June 1, 2016 was the change to the catastrophic injury definition and the fact that it may be harder for an injury to be deemed catastrophic. As such, we are greatly concerned that people who are seriously injured in an automobile accident will now only qualify for the significantly lower non-catastrophic limits.

We recommend raising your coverage to $1 million for non-catastrophic injuries, and $3 million for catastrophic injuries, which are the highest limits available. This will help fill the gap  in coverage, particularly in the areas under the new rules which don’t have clear definitions, such as brain trauma. See our post about frequently asked questions on the new rules for more.

Bari’s case isn’t necessarily indicative of what is going to happen to everyone under the new rules, but it is clear simply by looking at the old definition of what qualifies as a catastrophic impairment and what qualifies now can lead to a large gap in the amount of benefits available to you.  We urge all Kennedy auto insurance clients to raise their coverage in order to ensure that their families can concentrate on rehabilitation rather than money in the event of an accident.