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Reduced Accident Benefits as of June 1st make Optional Benefits Even More Important

As of June 1, 2016, changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) came into effect, and these changes drastically altered the amount of accident benefits available to those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents. These changes will result in a greatly reduced level of benefits available to accident victims, making optional benefits even more important to understand and consider purchasing.

Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits and Attendant Care Benefits

Prior to the June 1, 2016, changes, those injured in a motor vehicle accident who have injuries considered to be non-catastrophic were entitled to up to $50,000.00 in medical and rehabilitation benefits for 10 years from the date of the accident, and up to $36,000.00 in attendant care benefits. Those with catastrophic injuries were entitled to up to $1 million in medical and rehabilitation benefits and up to $1 million in attendant care benefits. Under the new system, those with non-catastrophic injuries will be entitled to up to $65,000.00 for both medical and rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits, combined, and the entitlement has been reduced from 10 years from the day to the accident to five years from the date of the accident. Similarly, those with catastrophic injuries will be entitled to only a total of $1 million for both medical and rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits.

Non-Earner Benefit

The non-earner benefit is a benefit available to those who have suffered a substantial inability to carry on the normal activities of their daily lives as a result of the injuries they sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Under the previous legislation, the non-earner benefit was not available for the first 26 weeks following the motor vehicle accident, but once an individual applied for and began receiving these benefits, they could potential receive them for life or until they no longer met the legal test for entitlement to the benefit. Now, the non-earner benefit is only available for the first two years following the motor vehicle accident, with an initial waiting period of four weeks. In addition, prior to the changes, at the two year mark, the amount of the benefit increased from $185.00 per week to $320.00 per week. This change will no longer occur as the benefits are no longer payable past the two year mark. In addition, this benefit will now only be available to those who are 18 years of age or older, where previously it was available to those 16 years of age or older.

Optional Benefits

Given the greatly reduced benefits available to those injured in a motor vehicle accident, consideration should be given to purchasing optional benefits which will increase the benefits available under a standard policy of auto insurance. For an understanding of Optional Benefits, please see my previous article. However, the June 1st changes to the SABS, also brings changes to the optional benefits available for purchase. The optional benefit to increase medical and rehabilitation benefits to $100,000.00 and attendant care benefits to $72,000.00 have been eliminated. In addition to the optional benefits previously available to increase the non-catastrophic limit for medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits to $1 million, the changes to the legislation include a new optional benefit for a combined medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care of $130,000.00 or up to $1 million for non-catastrophic injuries. If the option for up to $1 million is purchased, the five year limit on the benefit no longer applies and is for the duration of the injured individual’s life. For those who sustain catastrophic injuries, the changes include a new benefit of up to an additional $1 million in medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefit.

Catastrophic Impairment

It should also be noted that significant changes were also made to the SABS with regard to the definition of catastrophic impairment.

The June 1, 2016, changes apply to situations where your policy of insurance was issued on or after June 1, 2016. If your accident occurs after June 1, 2016, but your policy was not renewed on or after June 1, 2016, then the previous legislation and benefit scheme applies to you. If you have been in an accident and have any questions about what benefits you may be entitled to, contact one of the Personal Injury Lawyers at McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP.