Ontario's auto insurance reform needs more details: Herscu
By Kirsten McMahon, AdvocateDaily.com Managing Editor
News that the province plans to restore the default benefit limit for catastrophic injuries to $2 million is a “major change for the positive,” says Easy Legal Finance Inc. president and CEO Larry Herscu.
This announcement was part of the Progressive Conservatives' "Putting Drivers First" plan to reduce auto insurance rates, CBC News reports. The “sweeping plan” was revealed in the government's first spring budget earlier this month.
"When it comes to driving, it is clear that Ontario's auto insurance is broken, and drivers deserve better," said Finance Minister Vic Fedeli in his speech to the legislature, the article states.
“There was a tremendous impact when the previous government cut the limit in half in 2016,” Herscu tells AdvocateDaily.com. “You used to receive up to $1 million for medical and rehabilitation support and $1 million for attendant care for catastrophic injuries.
“Those categories were combined and reduced to a total $1 million, which was a huge change and unbelievably damaging to accident victims and their families.”
Easy Legal offers financial support to those who have been hurt in an accident to help them pay the bills while their lawyer fights for a fair settlement.
Herscu says Premier Doug Ford's government appears to have opened the door for further changes, but the details remain to be seen.
A spokesperson for the finance ministry told Canadian Underwriter, “The government will work with industry stakeholders and patient care advocates on implementation details, including the commitment to return to a default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured as the result of an auto accident,” without stating whether there will be two separate $1-million limits.
Herscu says further details are also needed around the concept of "Care, Not Cash” — which Fedeli said will be “the default clause to ensure that a driver’s auto insurance coverage will pay for treatment instead of costly legal fees.”
“This may be an indication of another fundamental shift coming down the pipe,” Herscu says. “In the absence of details, it is a significant point of concern. The trade-off is that while you may receive care for a longer period of time, you may not have a say in your treatment.
"Without more information, it is challenging to even know what the province is going to do. It creates more worries,” he says.
The government also announced it plans to introduce a Driver Care Card, which will streamline access to care, making the claims process easier to navigate.
In light of these proposed changes, Herscu remains cautiously optimistic.
"The default benefit limit increase is a gift — now we have to see what the take is in order to pay for it," he says.