Setting Goals for a New Year
January is a time for reflecting on the year to come and for setting goals. It’s a chance to consider the year just passed and to sift through the things that really matter in life – and those that don’t.
So often in my legal practice I interact with families who tell me that they had no idea how our Ontario automobile insurance system actually works once an accident has happened. I am regularly told by clients that if they knew in advance how the system operates they would have made different choices when it comes to the type and level of insurance they had in place for their cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and ATVs. Unfortunately, most families find out too late how things really work in order to make changes in their insurance coverage that would have helped them weather the after-math of a serious personal injury or death.
Right now, in my opinion, we have a chronic problem of Ontarians not having enough insurance coverage. Did you know, for example, that a person injured in a motor vehicle accident, who does not otherwise have access to short-term or long-term disability benefits (either from an employer or a private disability policy), will only be paid 70% of their gross income after a motor vehicle accident, which is capped at $400 per week (unless optional benefits have been purchased) while their claim unfolds? Ask yourself what the implications would be to you and your family if your income was reduced to that level for an indefinite period of time?
Did you know, as a further example, that nearly three years ago, the provincial government reduced the standard accident benefits coverage provided on a motor vehicle insurance policy, in some instances, by almost half? For example, a person with a very serious, catastrophic injury, used to have access to $1,000,000 for medical and rehabilitation benefits and a further $1,000,000 for attendant care benefits. Today, that same catastrophically injured person has access to only $1,000,000 for both categories.
The important point I am making is that there is a level of unawareness – of simply not knowing – that is literally adding insult to injury for hundreds of Ontario families each year. Take a few minutes this month – at the start of a new year – to understand your policy. If you do not understand it, ask your broker or agent for help. Do some calculations about what your own income situation would look like if an accident happened based on the coverage you currently have in place. And if all else fails, call me with your questions, or for a referral to a knowledgeable insurance professional who can help guide you.
I have long said that I’d be happy to meet you, but preferably not as a client; that would only mean that something bad has happened to you or your family. Make one of your goals for a new year to review your insurance coverage and to ensure that you are as protected as you can be in your own circumstances. You won’t regret it.
All the best for a healthy and happy new year.