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