If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Ottawa, or anywhere across Ontario, you are entitled to no-fault accident benefits. These benefits include coverage for treatment such as medical and rehabilitation and an income replacement benefit, among other things. What benefits are available to you will depend on the nature of your injuries and also open how much coverage you have purchased.
While many vehicle owners purchase a standard policy, it is important to understand what accident benefits are available to you under a standard policy and whether, depending on your circumstances, you should increase your benefits.
This article looks at some of the accident benefits in a standard Ontario automobile policy and when it may be a good idea to talk with your insurer about purchasing additional coverage.
Medical and Rehabilitation & Attendant Care Benefits
Medical and rehabilitation benefits cover the costs of treatment if you are injured in an accident. The attendant care benefits provide coverage if you need to pay someone to take care of you.
Under a standard policy, individuals who have a minor injury are covered for a maximum of $3,500 for medical and rehabilitation benefits, with no attendant care benefits. For those with non-catastrophic injuries, the maximum coverage is $65,000 for both medical and rehabilitation and attendant care benefits combined. For catastrophic injuries, the maximum is $1 million for both medical and rehabilitation and attendant care benefits combined.
Depending on the injury, the standard amount may not be enough, especially if you need treatment that is not covered by OHIP or you do not have excess health coverage under another plan (such as work). As such, it is always a good idea to discuss with your insurer whether you should increase your medical and rehabilitation and attendant care benefits.
Income Replacement Benefits
It is equally important to consider whether to purchase additional income replacement coverage. Income replacement benefits provide individuals who are unable to work due to a motor vehicle accident with income replacement. Under a standard policy, income replacement benefits are calculated at 70% of your gross income, to a maximum of $400 per week. However, if your net income is greater than that covered by the standard policy, you should consider increasing your coverage, to a maximum to $600, $800 or $1,000 per week.
Under a standard policy, caregiver benefits are only available for those who are catastrophically injured, to a maximum of $250 per week for the first dependent, with an additional $50 per week for each additional dependent. However, you can purchase optional coverage so that caregiver benefits are available if your injuries are considered to be minor or non-catastrophic. If you are unemployed and responsible for the full-time care of any dependents, it is a good idea to discuss with your insurer the option of increasing your caregiver benefits.
Housekeeping and Home Maintenance
Under a standard policy, housekeeping and home maintenance benefits are only available if you are catastrophically injured. In that case, the coverage provides for a maximum of $100 per week for housekeeping or home maintenance. However, you have the option of purchasing optional coverage which would make the benefit available if your injuries are minor or non-catastrophic.
Death and Funeral Benefits
Under a standard policy, if you die because you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, then your spouse and dependents will receive certain benefits. Your spouse is entitled to receive $25,000, while each of your dependents will receive $10,000. An additional $6,000 is available for your funeral expenses. However, if you purchase optional benefits, the amounts your spouse and dependants receive will be double that of the standard policy amount, and the amount for your funeral expenses is increased to $8,000.
Ontario automobile owners also have the option to purchase indexation benefits. Indexation allows for adjustments to the accident benefits payments that are available, so they can maintain value in relation to inflation. This is particularly helpful with regard to income replacement benefits, which, if received over the case of multiple years, would decrease in value with inflation.
While it may seem tempting to purchase only the minimum coverage required, it is worthwhile to discuss with your insurer the costs and benefits of increasing your coverage. It is important to remember that depending on your needs and situation, the coverage provided in a standard policy may not be enough if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.
If you have questions about your coverage for a car accident claim, contact one of our Ottawa personal injuries for a free, no obligation consultation.
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