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Changes to Accident Benefits DO Impact Cyclists!

Nga Dang
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When someone is injured by a motor vehicle, statutory accident benefits provide funding for treatment, attendant care and various other needs. On June 1, 2016, significant changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule will come into effect. To obtain further details of the changes, please click on the following link: https://singerkwinter.com/practice-areas/insurance-claims/accident-benefit- claims/

These changes will drastically decrease the amount of accident benefits available to an accident victim. The total accident benefits for treatment and attendant care available for victims who are moderately injured are reduced by 25%, and for victims who are catastrophically injured by 50%. The result for treatment and attendant care: non-catastrophically injured victims will be limited to $65,000, andcatastrophically injured victims will be limited to $1,000,000. This may seem like a lot of money, butgiven the high costs of treatment and care when OHIP is not there to pay for it, these benefit limits are not enough.

What many cyclists do not realize is that these changes impact cyclists just as much as operators of motor vehicles, if not more. When you, a cyclist, are struck by a motor vehicle, you may access accident benefits through an automobile insurance policy in which you are an insured person (ie. your own, your spouse’s, your parents’, etc), or, if you are not insured, through the policy of the motor vehicle that struck you (there are options which will not be discussed here). As a cyclist, because your bodies have limited protection, a collision between you and a motor vehicle will often result in more serious injuries to you, even in what would be considered a “minor” collision. As a result, significant treatment and care are often needed by an injured cyclist and benefits will run out fast.

On the somewhat bright side, there are optional benefits that can be purchased at an additional premium that will increase the available accident benefits to meet your needs in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident. The optional treatment and attendant care benefits will increase the non-catastrophic limits to $130,000 and the catastrophic limits to $2,000,000. What’s the cost for this increase? Minimal. How minimal is “minimal”? I called my automobile insurance company to ask about the additional premium I would have to pay to buy these optional benefits – it will cost me $69 per year, which amounts to $5.75 per month. This is a small price to pay to double the benefits.

People who have never been injured in a collision do not realize how significant of an issue this is. I cannot count how many times someone who had just been injured in an accident has said more or less the following to me: “I never knew how limited the accident benefits were under my policy and that I could purchase optional benefits; had I known I would have purchased them.” Don’t let that be you! To try to avoid this, here are some tips:

1) Stay safe follow the rules of the road!

2) Ensure the optional benefits are purchased!

If you have your own automobile insurance policy or if you are an insured under someone else’s policy, take the necessary steps to ensure that optional benefits are added to that policy. This is both beneficial to you and your family members.

3) Spread the word!

Most people are not aware of optional benefits’ existence or how little it would cost to purchase them. It is to everyone’s benefit to purchase the optional benefits. Given the limited public awareness, most people are driving around with limited accident benefits. If you were to unfortunately get into an accident with one of these motor vehicles and do not have your own insurance, you would be limited to the significantly reduced benefits.  Therefore, the more people out there who become aware of and buy the optional benefits, the less likely cyclists will run into the issue of treating injuries with insufficient accident benefits.

Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.  This post originally appeared on Biking Toronto on  June 6, 2016. 

This post is about making sure you’re aware of how changes to Ontario’s Accident Benefits impact cyclists, and how, with the right steps, you will be covered as much as possible, in case you are badly hurt on your bike.

The content of this article or blog posting is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to be a full or complete analysis of the topic. Before applying the concepts or any content of this article or blog it is imperative that you consult your legal advisor.

Neither the author of this article or Singer Kwinter can accept any responsibility for financial loss nor gain of any nature should the reader not take advice from their legal advisor.

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