Think you're covered? Perhaps you want to think about optional benefits...

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Automobile insurance coverage changed dramatically on September 1, 2010, when changes to the Standard Automobile Insurance Policy came into effect. Under the September 1, 2010 changes coverage for expenses related to medical treatment, housekeeping, attendant care and caregiving, previously offered in the standard automobile insurance policy, were significantly reduced or in some cases eliminated entirely.

To balance out these drastic cuts, the government offered a number of optional benefits to consumers to who wished to increase their insurance protection. There are optional benefits which allow you to increase your level of benefits in all areas of coverage. In theory, the optional benefits are a great solution for consumers who wish to continue to receive the same or better protection under their automobile insurance policies without being affected by the cutbacks to the standard policy. However since the changes were implemented there is evidence to suggest that there has been very little interest on behalf of consumers in the optional coverage.

According to the FSCO Auto Insurance E-newsletter which published on August 30, 2011 the subscription rate for these optional benefits is extremely low. Below is an excerpt from this newsletter which outlines a survey done by FSCO with respect to the optional coverage: Survey Results: Optional Coverages In January 2011, FSCO asked the largest private passenger auto insurance insurers in Ontario to complete a survey in order to understand consumers purchasing habits regarding optional coverages. The survey covered policies written between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. The 24 insurance companies surveyed represented 78 per cent of the Ontario market, based on written premium. Following is a summary of the percentages of policyholders that have purchased optional coverages:

  • Increased death and funeral 4.76 per cent
  • Increased income replacement ($600) 0.26 per cent
  • Increased income replacement ($800) 0.13 per cent
  • Increased income replacement ($1,000) 0.17 per cent
  • Increased medical and rehabilitation to $100,000 1.31 per cent
  • Increased attendant care to $72,000 1.22 per cent
  • Increased medical and rehabilitation to $1.1 million and increased attendant care to $1.07 million 1.04 per cent
  • Caregiver, housekeeping and home maintenance 0.64 per cent
  • Dependant care benefit 0.25 per cent
  • Indexation 0.29 per cent
  • Ontario Policy Change Form (OPCF) 48 - Added Coverage to Offset Tort Deductibles 0.19 per cent

Clearly insurance consumers have not jumped on the optional benefits bandwagon. One can speculate on the reasons why consumers have not opted for the options, however the most likely culprit is lack of knowledge; both of the existence of these optional benefits and the consequences of not having them. Unfortunately, most consumers do not realize the impact of the decision not to purchase optional insurance until it is too late and they are faced with a devastating accident related injury and a very limited amount of benefits. Given the above it is most definitely a worthwhile exercise to take the time to have a discussion with your insurance broker so that you fully understand what coverage you currently have and what options are available to you to increase your protection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Related Articles Gluckstein eNews September 2010 September Auto Insurance ReformAuto reforms and changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule as of September 1, 2010. Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers is dedicated to our clients understanding these new changes and easing them into this transition. Gluckstein eNews March 2010 Auto Insurance ReformHighlights of the Government of Ontarios changes to automobile insurance regulations that will become effective on September 1, 2010. Includes the 7 new regulations, changes to SABs, Tort Claims and more...


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