Are you getting what you paid for from your auto insurer?

Auto insurance premiums continue to rise in Ontario at the same time, benefits are being reduced and limited. In today’s Toronto Star, Ellen Roseman outlines how since September 1, 2010, automobile insurers are classifying 80 percent of all injuries as “minor injuries” which automatically limits all medical and rehabilitation benefits available to an injured victim to $3,500. This $3,500 limit also includes the costs for travel to appointments, administration costs and assessments. The $3,500 is completely inadequate and does not provide nearly enough coverage for those who are injured in automobile accidents. Consider that you are likely paying at a minimum of $1,000 a year in premiums and likely much more. It is unlikely that you will ever need to access your auto insurance benefits but consider that even after paying over $10,000 in auto insurance premiums over a 10 year period, when you actually need the benefits you will be told that your benefits are limited to a total of $3,500. Does this seem fair or just?

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Ontario’s Highest Court Slaps Echelon General Insurance Company’s Hands

The Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision on October 18, 2011 which ought to serve as a warning to automobile insurers that unfairly deny necessary benefits to their injured clients. In McQueen v Echelon http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2011/2011ONCA0649.htm, the Court was asked to consider whether or not an award of damages for mental distress in the amount of $25,000.00 ought to be upheld. It is noted that the award for mental distress caused by the insurer actually exceeded the value of benefits that the insurer had refused to pay to its insured.

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Local Lawyer George Bonn’s Small Part in a Significant Case

In a recent exit interview conducted by the Globe and Mail, Justice Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to talk about some of his favourite or most momentous cases, while sitting with Canada’s highest court.

Justice Binnie recalled the case of Whitten v. Pilot Insurance, a civil case about punitive damages. The case was in front of the Supreme Court on appeal by the plaintiffs, whose 1 million dollar punitive damages award by a jury at the Superior Court had been overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

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When a Minor Injury is Not So Minor

Last year, on September 1, 2010, changes were imposed on Ontario’s no fault benefits regime that drastically reduced the benefits available to individuals involved in car collisions. The changes were largely a result of vigorous lobbying on behalf of the insurance companies. Perhaps the most devastating change had been the reduction of medical and rehabilitation benefits. Now, if an individual has sustained what the new legislation refers to as a “minor injury”, no more than $3,500.00 in medical and rehabilitation benefits is available.

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