Second Thoughts: Considering Changes to the Definition of Catastrophic Impariment

MPP Dwight Duncan is considering drastic changes to the definition of Catastrophic Impairment under the standard auto insurance policy based on the Report of the Catastrophic Impairment Expert Panel to the Superintendent of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.  The changes being considered will make it much more difficult for seriously injured accident victims to be able to access the care and treatment they require.

These changes ought not to be made for the following reasons:

1)      The bar is being set too high –  the medical panel assumed that to be considered “Catastrophic”, you have to have an injury that is essentially the same as being wheelchair bound.  This will prevent many seriously injured accident victims who would qualify under the current definition for benefits from being able to get necessary treatment and care.

2)      The Medical Panel’s work is not complete.  This Panel, despite its limited membership, limited resources and rushed timelines, is recommending, and the Government is now considering, drastic changes even though their work is not yet done.

3)      We have 15 years of experience with the current definition of Catastrophic Impairment.  The Government is considering adding  4 new, complicated tests, and eliminating the one that is the most simple and the easiest to use (the Glasgow Coma Scale).  They are considering adding a requirement that people MUST be accepted into an inpatient hospital rehabilitation program, when there are very limited beds available.  All of this will throw our system into disarray, and create disputes and costly litigation.

4)      The definition of catastrophic is not a medical decision, it is a policy decision based on three considerations: fairness to the most seriously injured people in the Province; affordable premiums for the motoring public; and reasonable profits for insurers.  Benefits for all non-catastrophic victims were drastically cut in September of 2010.  As a result, auto insurers in Ontario are poised to make significant profits which will relieve any upward pressure on premiums.  In fact, insurer profitability has already begun to dramatically rebound before the effect of the September changes have begun to take hold.

Patrick Brown


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