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Ontario’s Accident Benefits System Changes Now in Effect – Part 4

Further to our various previous blogs, including on March 9, 2010, the changes to Ontario’s SABS (statutory accident benefits Schedule) have now come into effect.

Much has been written on the topic, including the recent Globe and Mail articles on August 10, 2010 and July 15, 2010.

The changes come as part of the government’s designated 5 year review plan.  Given the insurer’s financial difficulties over the past years with the cost control of handling claims, including the rising cost of handling each individual claim, changes were expected.

These changes will create problems for those injured in accidents who fall under the “Minor Injury Guideline” but who have ongoing, persistent problems and do not have their own private medical plans (i.e. extended health coverage through work) or sufficient savings to seek treatment on their own.

It is anticipated that the majority of people hurt in car accidents will be deemed, under the new SABS, to fall under the Minor Injury Guideline wherein their treatment under the Accident Benefits schedule will be $3,500.  This cap only applies to the Accident Benefits portion of an accident claim and not to the tort aspect of an accident claim.

You can purchase more insurance coverage, at the time of renewing your policy.  Under this new Accident Benefits schedule, your insurance broker will have to spend more time explaining the implications of your coverage (and your decision whether to buy additional coverage), given the reduction in basic coverage in all insurance policies.

The new Accident Benefits schedule also places a more paperwork responsibility on physiotherapists and chiropractors – very often the primary caregivers for people injured in accidents.
There are many questions that lawyers, experienced in this area of law, have which arise from the interplay of Minor Injury Guidelines, the reduction in benefits, the restrictions on claiming benefits and the use of service providers, along with the issues facing counsel when presenting both the Accident Benefits claim as well as the tort lawsuit.

Ontario’s insurance system regulating car accidents continues to become more and more complicated, requiring lawyers to specialize in the area in order to keep up with the nuances and challenges of properly presenting a claim on their client’s behalf.