Motor Vehicle Coverage Travelling Outside Ontario

Have you travelled outside Ontario and wondered what kind of motor vehicle coverage you will have in the event of an accident? In this episode, Bill and guest-host (and Lerners’ partner) Kim Munro talk about how to protect yourself, and those you care about, when travelling outside Ontario in a motor vehicle.

Bill and Kim also talk with Andrew Murray about his recent involvement in a high-profile inquest case involving the death of an inmate inside the Windsor Jail. Inquests are part of the regular work done by lawyers on the Lerners’ injury law team. Andrew helps explain, in a way that is easy to understand, what an Inquest is and what purpose it serves in Ontario.

Bill and Kim also interview Chris Dawson, an associate lawyer in our group, who was raised in Essex County. Learn more about one of the up-and-coming lawyers in this area of practice.

Finally, in our regular Q & A segment, Ryan in Wiarton asks an interesting question about insurance replacement benefits paid by his own insurer and Sharon in Tilbury wonders what happens if she is injured in an accident but was not wearing a seatbelt.

Episode 3 Transcript

Episode 3 Q&A

Q: If I was hurt in an accident involving another vehicle and I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt do I still have a case?

A: The short answer is absolutely you have a case and you’re entitled to your accident benefits through your own insurer, absolutely. You also may have a claim against the at fault motorist. The seat belt issue is often a defence that is raised by the insurer for the defendants but it doesn’t, in most cases, mean that there will be no recovery.

Our court of appeal gives some direction on this, and the worst case scenario is there is a discount of about 25% in circumstances where not wearing a seat belt would have made a significant difference to the physical injuries that you sustained. So, while it isn’t quite this simple, somebody who goes head first through a windshield and suffers a head injury, will have a greater discount than a person who has a broken arm as a result of a collision where both people weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

And having said that though, make sure you wear your seatbelt.

Q: What is an income replacement benefit and how does it work? And, does the income replacement benefit pay in addition to his work benefits?

A: We see this a lot.  New clients are given a package of information by their insurance company, there are many, many pieces of paper in it, there’s a lot of information in there about all kinds of benefits, trying to sort them all out is difficult.

It really is difficult and I find that often times clients have no idea what their own auto policy provides and as you know, an income replacement benefit is one of the things the standard automobile accident benefits policy provides to individuals and they are absolutely entitled to an income replacement benefit from their insurer, their own insurer, if they have an inability to work as a result of the injury sustained in the accident.  Now the problem with the income replacement benefit, at least the standard coverage or standard benefit, is that it only pays $400.00, up to a maximum of $400.00 a week, so they are in most cases entitled to the income replacement benefit and hopefully if they don’t have optional income replacement benefit coverage, they have coverage through either their insurer at work, short term disability, long term disability, that type of thing.

Answer to part two of the question: Does the income replacement benefit pay in addition to his work benefits?

That’s a little more difficult question and in most cases, most cases and for most people I’m going to say that it does pay in addition.  It’s a complicated calculation and it’s one where you really want to talk to a personal injury lawyer and get some advice on are you entitled to both the income replacement benefit and the short term disability benefit and if not, how does the offset work and what is the exact calculation.

The gist of what you need to take away is that you can’t get more from the automobile insurer than $400 a week and if you have benefits from work or from a private policy, those benefits will typically pay first, and if there is some shortfall using the calculation just described, then the auto policy benefits may pay in addition to that.  One of the really important things for people to be doing is when you get your renewal notice from your automobile insurer, stop and read it, and look at it and think about whether the coverage that it provides to you for wage replacement will actually be sufficient in your circumstances.

Unfortunately, I often talk to people on the phone or when I meet with people and I ask them what coverages do you have through your own auto policy and most people have no idea. I think the focus that most people have when they’re purchasing auto insurance is how much is it going to cost me and they don’t think about what’s the coverage going to be in case I’m hurt in an accident and, let’s face it, we never think we’re going to be in an accident and we try not, I guess, to be in accidents, so it doesn’t cross our minds but it really should and we really need to ask our broker what coverages do I have.  Talk to the broker or the agent about what your income is, what benefits you have available through your employment and really be prepared in the event that something horrible happens like an accident that causes you to have an inability to do your job.

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