Ontario auto insurance changes hit pedestrians, cyclists

Anyone who doesn’t own a car, and the insurance that goes with it, is going to have fewer resources to deal with injuries if they are hit by a car, as a result of changes to auto insurance just introduced by the Province of Ontario.

In an effort to reduce auto insurance costs, the Province has cut in half the amount of medical and rehabilitation benefits coverage that drivers are required to purchase. Drivers will be able to purchase more if they want to, although in all likelihood few will do so. This move is presented as a calculated risk for the drivers themselves — they are gambling that they will not need as much medical assistance if they get in an accident.

The problem is, if a driver hits someone on foot or bicycle who does not own a car, and therefore does not have automobile collision insurance, it is the driver’s insurance that pays for the medical and rehabilitation needs of the victim. And now, most drivers will have half as much coverage as they used to — meaning that non-drivers who are hit by a car now have recourse to only half as much insurance money to cover medical and rehab needs as they used to. While it may still be enough to cope with injuries in many cases, for serious injuries that may result in long-term physical problems the new amount could well be inadequate to cover the the expenses the victim needs to pay to recover full health.

Lawyer Patrick Brown explained the consequences of this change in a blog post when these proposals were first introduced.   Brown noted:

Perhaps the greatest injustice of this new law falls upon children.  Parents of a child can increase their benefits to ensure added protection is given to their child if the child is struck down by a car while walking or riding his/her bike.  However, parents of a child who do not own a car and do not have car insurance, will not be able to give their child this added protection.

Non-drivers can’t choose how much coverage they get. Yet although the Province was warned of the consequences to non-drivers, it did not make any adjustments to the final proposals to take them into account.

photo by Doug McGregor


  1. Actually, Dylan, you miss an important point. Non-drivers actually can choose how much coverage they get; they simply need to buy their own insurance.

  2. I love how this all came about because the Province didn’t want to stand up to the gouging by the insurance companies.

    This was the easy solution. Considering most Ontarians drive, and only those living in a big city tend to not have Cars, this was a win win for everyone but a few. Lucky voters stay happy (those that don’t end up needing the coverage), Insurance companies stay happy, the problem isn’t actually solved.

  3. Isn’t medical costs covered by OHIP anyway? I’m confused on this. So what does the automobile insurance cover that OHIP does not cover?

  4. If we actually cared about children:
    – we’d have far lower speed limits
    – nobody under twenty-five could drive
    – few people over seventy could
    – hands free devices would also be banned from use
    – there’d be no street parking
    – we’d have usable transit
    – traffic would be properly policed
    – there’d be an enforced three-foot rule for cyclists
    – all walk signals would be in advance of the green
    – there’d be no right turns on red
    – child care workers would be well paid
    – more health care dollars would be spent on children, than on palliative care
    – low-income housing would not be aggregated in ‘no go’ zones
    – we’d have school lunch programmes
    – higher education would be free
    Ergo, we don’t care.

  5. @WK Lis: OHIP does not cover physiotherapy, which is the primary cost-burden when rehabilitating from vehicular accidents. Physio can cost 100$+ per visit, and depending on your injury you may have to attend for weeks or months.

  6. Can’t I buy injury insurance that’s not tied to car ownership?

  7. Dylan,

    have you consider the other side of the story: currently the cost of things like physiotherapy is spiralling out of control, mainly not because the victims need them, but because the care-provider feel free to use it as a cash-cow, often against the best interest of the victims? Also, why is that if I am to replace a bumper, it costs me under $500 if I pay cash, but $1500 if it is covered by insurance?


  8. The province has always pandered to suburbanites, probably because that’s where its influential people live. Our politicians tell us there’s no money to build the rapid transit infrastructure we need to grow or electrify GO lines to maintain the quality of life in urban communities, but every year a highway is widened or a new one planned and built at massive cost.

  9. it sounds very evil the whole thing.

    With all these changes, why does the government mandate insurance at all if the accident coverage is so diluted.

  10. accident benefits are your rehab, caregiver, income replacement. most immediate medical needs are met by ohip. drivers having fewer “medical insurance” through car insurance has nothing to do with pedestrians. the driver’s are under insuring themselves if they are in an accident. not a pedestrian.

  11. OHIP doesnt cover physical therapy?
    yeeesh… what’s the point if major things arent covered?

  12. So if OHIP doesn’t cover physiotherapy and that is one reason why car insurance is so high, then logic says that OHIP should cover physiotherapy so the cost of car insurance will go down. After all pedestrians don’t normally carry car insurance for the physiotherapy coverage.

  13. ‘Mark G’, why should a pedestrian or cyclist have to pay any insurance against a risk that is entirely created by someone else: drivers? Complete BS argument.

  14. @geronimo – there are pedestrian/cyclist accidents, not to mention cyclist/cyclist – my grandfather died after being hit in one of the latter, and due to a red light running courier I was a hairsbreadth from one of the former at Richmond and Bay (I literally felt the wind from the idiot’s passage). I suppose you “don’t care” about that?

  15. Mark, with due respect to your Grandfather, and sincere condolences, ‘data is not the plural of anecdote’: the leading cause of death for anyone under 35 is motor vehicle collision. There was one person killed by a cyclist in Toronto in recent years (who may have been your late grandfather, if he was resident in Toronto), and that cyclist should have had the book thrown at him/her, if it was his/her fault. So too should the drivers who kill about 50 each year in the city. Drivers – 50, each year; cyclists – one each decade. A factor of 500.

  16. Geronimo, for every 7 pedestrian and bicycle trips ,together, in Toronto there are close to 60 auto trips made. So you can’t really compare 50 and 1. Secondly, if cycling is so safe that 1 person is killed each decade (I highly doubt that number is correct) then it doesn’t sound like we even need to blame anybody!!! Thirdly, it’s not a question of how many die every year, but how many get injured and require expensive medical care.

  17. Geronimo: You ask ” why should a pedestrian or cyclist have to pay any insurance against a risk that is entirely created by someone else: drivers?”

    But… isn’t that true of almost any insurance? For example: When you buy house insurance against theft, aren’t you also paying against a risk that is entirely created by someone else: burglars?

  18. If the pedestrian or the cyclist is not at fault for the collision with an automobile, then they can launch a tort claim for bodily injuries – if they meet a threshold, as set by Ontario gov’t.

    This means IF they are seriously injured and they can prove the collision caused harm to their life, they can sue the at-fault driver’s liability policy.

    Also, if the person is determined to be catastrophically injured, the medical and rehab limit goes up to $1 million.

    Get your facts straight.

  19. You raise a good point – this has always been a gray area.

    I usually recommend that anyone who isn’t a driver (and ever those who are) look closely at their company supplemental health plan, or consider an additional plan if available – this often covers “extras” if you’re in a health emergency (single hospital room, ambulance coverage if you’re in a place where it costs money to get an ambulance trip, etc.).

    The legal system *should* (in theory) take care of the larger (compensation) issues, however for small extra cost it’s (usually) worth it if you need to use it.

  20. hi… I’m sovi from jakarta, Indonesia… have you ever visit to my country ? We have many beautiful places to be enjoyed …

  21. This is a travesty, because non-drivers are getting punished, when they should be rewarded for cycling or walking…leaving no CO2 trace behind them, like petroleum-burning vehicles.

  22. My son was just hit yesterday while stepping onto a crosswalk. The car was at a stop, but unaware to my son, the driver was paying attention to the auto traffic and accelerated. His foot was ran over and he went down under the car when the remainder of the car went over his legs. The driver did stop and was very upset and offered him a ride. Of course, both in shock, he refused. The driver insisted he paid for new pants and offered him some money. He didn’t even consider getting any personal information.

    He is currently in plenty of pain and waiting for x-ray/medical results. He has already missed two days of work at this point.

    As a full time University student and part time employee, only tryng to make ends meet, why woud he even consider having pedestrian insurance? He is also a student out of his home province so I am unaware of his options.

    The fellow who ran my son over was not a horrible person and did stop. It’s just unfortunate that neither of them were in a state of mind to get any information from one another. This would still make the accident a hit and run.

    We are not the type of family that would even dream of sueing another, but I am terribly worried for my son for both his injuries and his loss of wage. His job does require his full mobility.

    Does he have any options? Our province is all no fault and Provincial run. Does Ontario have the same?

  23. Guys, guys!

    Some points:
    1. Insurance is as high as we see it now because of unreal medical and repair pricing. Cut this twice and insurance cost will be twice as low. That’s what provincial goverment is trying to do now….

    2. Face it: We all wan’t coverage and don’t wanna pay for it… People are trying to get max money out of a minor accident….

    3. Evil here is medical care providers and repair shops that will have to do their job at lower price (thought it’s still higher then fair in my opinion)

    4. Hope that thing will work as planned – will see lower insurance rates and hopefully goverment-regulated pricing for care givers and repair guys in a future.

    5. And don’t be mommy boys…Physical care! Can’t live without mental rehabilitation!… c’mon already! your parents were driving with lower coverage and without seatbelts on rear seat alltogether. Ask them if they didn’t like it… I know people from countries where auto insurance is not mandatory at all and they are ok with that.

  24. I just got hit tonight on my bike…
    This is going to be painful!!!

    The guy that hit me basically raced in front of me at the light as he turned left. As I was in the intersection first!!!

    Doesn’t he have to sit behind the white line until the way is clear!!!

    The cops didn’t give him a ticket.
    Hence, no one is at fault.

    I haven’t a hope in hell now recouping the costs for my losses.

    What a very very scrwd up system we do run.
    Can pretty much get away with murder in this country. Just run over them!!!

    damn shame it has gotten to this state… all in the name of money!!!

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