Oct 1, 2014
On September 1, 2010, the Ontario government made a number of sweeping changes to The Insurance Act that affected, among other things, the accident benefits available to anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident. One of the most underappreciated changes concerned “optional” (enhanced) accident benefits.
When optional accident benefits first became available to Ontario drivers in November 1996, few people took advantage of them, largely because insurance policies at the time provided adequate coverage for most accident victims. On September 1, 2010, however, optional benefits became the rule, rather than the exception.
One example is housekeeping and home maintenance benefits. If, for example, you are injured in an accident and have difficulty keeping your home clean and tidy to a reasonable standard you want, you will need to have pre-purchased this benefit in order to receive financial compensation that can be used to get the help you need.
Before September 1, 2010, this benefit was standard with your policy; the only restriction was that the maximum compensation available for housekeeping and home maintenance expenses was $100.00 per week. Today if you are injured in a car accident and are not catastrophically impaired, you must have purchased this benefit as part of your insurance policy prior to the accident in order to receive it.
It’s also worth noting that while the maximum amount you can receive is still $100.00 per week, access to this benefit is greatly reduced. In order to receive it, the individual helping you must either be doing so in the course of their regular employment (i.e. such as in the case of a professional housekeeper in your employ) or they must be someone such as a friend or family member who suffers an actual income or economic loss in order to help you.
Accident victims who don’t have a family member or friend who satisfies these criteria may be forced to employ a professional to come into their home to do the housekeeping and maintenance that they used to do. Unfortunately, at today’s market rates, that will quickly eat up the $100.00 per week allotment.
In cases such as this, optional benefits are not always better benefits.