Ontario group fears cuts to catastrophic injury insurance
The Ontario Legislature building sits in Queen's Park in Toronto. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS.)
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2012 2:29PM EDT
A group of Ontario lawyers and medical professionals claims the provincial government is about to change the way it pays insurance benefits to those who suffer devastating injuries in automobile collisions.
Andrew Murray, president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, says Ontario is set to slash the number of people eligible for catastrophic injury coverage in half.
The change would reduce the amount that auto insurance companies would be required to pay out to those suffering from the most devastating motor vehicle injuries.
While the government has not introduced the changes, Murray said they are contained in a report by the Catastrophic Impairment Expert Panel.
"Our desire to have this addressed now is related to our fear that we are about to witness a disaster," Murray told a press conference on Tuesday.
Currently, accident victims who suffer brain injury, paralysis or other "catastrophic" injuries are eligible for medical and rehabilitation benefits of up to $1 million. Those who would be denied under the new rules would be eligible for a maximum of $50,000 in basic benefits.
The change means less money would be paid out through car insurance companies and could result in lower insurance premiums.
Murray said that catastrophic impairment coverage is paid in about one per cent of all cases, meaning that while the change would be "disastrous" for a few hundred people, it would not be enough to affect insurance premiums in any meaningful way.
Murray said his association was seeking to secure a more inclusive definition of catastrophic impairment, which would allow more people to apply for assistance
Nick Gurevich, president of the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers, said the changes would disadvantage the most severely injured and vulnerable victims, including those with severe brain injury, spinal cord injuries, psychiatric and behavioral issues.
Gurevich said victims would be shortchanged on the amount of assistance they receive and would be forced to live a life "without independence or dignity."