Tag Archives: insurance

Protect the ones you love: Buy Additional Auto Insurance

Written by: John McLeish


Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have gutted accident benefits available to injured Ontario drivers and their families. The most dramatic cuts affect those who suffer serious injuries. The protection Ontario drivers and their families once enjoyed, through a basic auto insurance policy, has been stripped away.

There are two ways you can protect yourself and your family. The first way is to purchase additional uninsured and underinsured coverage. The price of this extra coverage is cheap and the benefits if you, or a family member are seriously injured, through the fault of someone else, are enormous.

How does purchasing additional uninsured and underinsured insurance work?  If another driver causes serious injury to you or a family and only has $1 million in liability insurance, and your injuries and losses are assessed at more than $1 million, you can be fully compensated for all your injuries and losses from your own insurance company.

Below is an example which demonstrates the minimal extra cost of purchasing this additional insurance for a family of 4 who own 2 cars. 

Driver Scenario:

Driver Location: Downtown Toronto
2 drivers each age 46 – each with over 25 years licensed in Ontario
2 children, non-drivers
Neither driver has at-fault claims or convictions in their driving records

Vehicle 1 – 2016 Acura ILX
Vehicle 2 – 2015 Buick Verano

Cost of Purchasing Additional Insurance
Amount of Liability, Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage* Yearly Premium Cost of Additional Coverage
$1 million $2,914.00  
Increase to $2 million $2,990.00 $76.00
Increase to $3 million $3,020.00 $106.00

*This also includes basic AB coverage

The second way of protecting yourself and your family is by purchasing additional accident benefits coverage. It is as equally affordable as purchasing the coverage above.

We all think that a serious injury from a car accident will never happen to us or a family member. That is what all the thousands of Ontario drivers, who are seriously injured in car accidents every year, think.   Do the smart thing to protect the ones you love, before it is too late – purchase extra coverage at relatively low cost.


Practical Strategies Webinar: Auto Insurance Law Impacting You and Your Clients

The Practical Strategies webinar aired on April 30, 2013.

This webinar will update you on how lawyers and health care providers are coping with the evolving challenges of working in the constantly changing auto insurance system. You will learn strategies that will benefit you and your clients, including:

  • Establishing “incurred expense” and “economic loss” in attendant care claims.
  • Recent developments in catastrophic impairment.
  • Common pitfalls in clinical note taking and report writing.
  • Preparing for giving evidence in the Courtroom.



Court Ruling: Defendant Rental Car Company Must Remain in Action

Mr. Smith suffered serious injuries in a single vehicle collision involving a rental car owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Mr. Smith was a passenger in the car and the driver of Mr. Smith’s vehicle held her own insurance policy with liability limits of $1 million.  Enterprise brought a summary judgment seeking to be released from the action, because Enterprise could not be liable for any amount over $1 million.

McLeish Orlando successfully defended the motion on behalf of Mr. Smith.

On October 16, 2012, Justice McCarthy of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Enterprise was required to remain a party to the action. Justice McCarthy agreed with the plaintiff’s position that the 2006 amendments did not modify the applicable principles of vicarious liability or joint and several liability. Specifically, his honour made the following findings:

  • Legal liability for the accident and legal liability to pay the claim are “distinct considerations.”
  •  Section 267.12 of the Insurance Act clearly contemplates the “continuing legal exposure” of a lessor for vicarious liability.
  •  The plaintiff clearly had a right of action in vicarious liability against Enterprise and that right of action was not displaced by the operation of section 267.12.
  •  The provisions of the Insurance Act did not prevent the plaintiff from maintaining an action against Enterprise.

The Smith decision is significant in that it establishes that rental companies must remain parties to an action despite the availability of other insurance. This is especially important to plaintiffs as there will still be an owner’s insurance policy available if the driver’s insurer denies coverage during the litigation.  This ensures that the plaintiff will not be left without an insurance company to satisfy a judgment.

The full text of the decision may be found online at CanLii Smith v. Smith, 2012 ONSC 5872 (CanLII).

Insurance Bureau of Canada Misinforms Officials, OTLA Taking Action

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association has recently sent out a newsletter to every MPP in Ontario regarding the Insurance Bureau of Canada misinforming officials about insurance premiums, claims cost and profits.

McLeish Orlando stands behind  OTLA in ensuring that MPP officials are well informed. See below for the newsletter sent out by OTLA.

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Ontario Court of Appeal Confirms: One Assessment of Damages, Multiple Deductibles

The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision In Martin v. Fleming earlier this week.  The issue in dispute was whether a plaintiff who was injured in multiple collisions and is having both actions tried together to allow for a global assessment of damages is subject to one deductible for each claim.

In its brief reasons, the Court of Appeal agreed with the motions judge who held that the each collision or accident attracts a separate deductible:

The plain meaning of s. 267.5(7) is that the court determines the amount of general damages in an action by first determining the general damages in that action and then reducing that amount by the amount of the statutory deductible.

Global assessment is a methodology for determining damages where damages from multiple accidents overlap. Even where the court undertakes a global assessment, it must still determine the amount of general damages attributable to each action. It is in keeping with the wording of the provision and the scheme as a whole that, once the court has allocated the general damages for the individual action, it then reduces that amount by the amount of the statutory deductible.

I conclude that the statutory deductibles apply to each action. The plaintiffs’ motion is therefore dismissed.

While the decision can result in unfairness to a plaintiff, it was largely expected given the language in s. 267.5(7) of the Insurance Act.

Court of Appeal: Trial Judge’s “Unorthodox” Charge to Jury “Got the Job Done”

Deanna Zurek suffered soft tissue injuries in a rear-end collision.  After a trial, a jury awarded her non-pecuniary general damages, damages for past loss of income, and damages for future care costs.  However, it awarded her no damages for future loss of income.  Ms. Zurek appealed, citing the trial judge’s erroneous charge to the jury as the reason for the jury’s failure to award damages for future income loss.

The Court of Appeal released its decision in Zurek v. Ferris on November 5, 2010.  The Court agreed with Ms. Zurek that  many of the trial judge’s comments to the jury  were unnecessary and “not germane to the issues the jury had to decide.”  It characterized the charge as “unorthodox.”  Despite these comments, the Court held that the charge as a whole was fair.  It cited the following examples of the trial judge’s attempts to have the jury resolve the issues using relevant evidence:

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Dog Bite Attacks In Ontario – Three Rottweilers maul 5 year-old girl

On Friday, October 12th, 5 year old Victoria Dehan was playing with Rottweiler puppies in her family’s barn in Pelham, Ontario when she was suddenly attacked by three adult Rottweilers.  Victoria is now in critical condition at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.

Victoria has undergone two surgeries since the attack.  Her condition is reported to be improving.  We wish Victoria a fast and full recovery.  Our thoughts are with the Dehan family.

In Ontario, dog owners are responsible for keeping dogs under proper control and if they do not, the owner may be responsible for any harm caused by the dog.  Every year there are over 300 reported dog bite incidents in the City of Toronto alone.

The impact of a dog bite can cause significant physical and psychological injury to an individual who is attacked.

What many people do not know is that the insurance policy a dog owner has on his home or apartment will, in many cases, pay for claims arising out of injuries their dog causes.

Is a Carjacking An “Accident”?

On February 26, 2000, Michael Downer pulled into a Scarborough gas station in his Jeep.  He left the engine on the Jeep running while he sat in the driver’s seat and separated money from his wallet to pay for gas.  When Mr. Downer looked up from his wallet, he saw 3 or four young men around his jeep.  The men began hitting Mr. Downer while pulling him out of the vehicle.  Mr. Downer put the Jeep into reverse to get away from the men.  One of the men tried to force the gear into park while Mr. Downer reversed out of the gas station and then drove off.  A short time later, he became aware that he had suffered injuries in the incident.

Mr. Downer’s insurance company brought a motion to dismiss Mr. Downer’s claim for benefits on the basis that he had not suffered his injuries in an accident.

Was the carjacking an accident?

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Avoiding (Legal) Potholes on Your E-Bike

It’s that time of year again. The time when hard-core cyclists say to themselves, “Do I really have to share the bike lane with those scooter-like things?” Like them or not, e-bikes are back on the roads after their annual winter migration to storage. If last year was any indication, the number of e-bikes on the road this spring can be expected to increase yet again.

While the year-round cycling purist may look over the dropped handlebars of his retro fixed-gear bicycle at the e-biker with disdain, e-bikes look like they are here to stay. E-bikes represent a viable commuting option for “suits” who can’t show up to work sweaty and who, unlike me, don’t have the luxury of keeping a wardrobe at the office. They are also a more feasible option for people with physical limitations or who just need a bit of help on steep hills.

To encourage the use of e-bikes, the government allows riders to operate them without a driver’s licence and without the need to purchase insurance. For people who want a cheap, green, and non-sweaty mode of travel there aren’t any apparent drawbacks to using an e-bike – unless your e-bike is not really an e-bike. How do you know if what you are riding is in fact an e-bike? The government certainly hasn’t made it easy. Finding the complete definition means you have to look at the provincial Highway Traffic Act and the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. That’s a pretty heavy onus to place on someone who just wants to ride a bike with a bit of a power boost.

More importantly, why should you care whether your e-bike fits the definition? As long as you’re riding a machine that suits your needs, who cares if it’s technically an “e-bike” or not, right? Wrong. If your machine turns out not to be an e-bike, you could be operating a motor vehicle without insurance. And the consequences of operating a motor vehicle without insurance are significant.

The first obvious consequence of riding a motor vehicle insurance is a ticket under the Highway Traffic Act or the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. This could lead to substantial penalties. But a ticket and its accompanying penalty pales in comparison to what could happen if you are involved in a collision while operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Most significantly, you lose the right to sue. You might think that you aren’t looking to get rich off a lawsuit. But, suing for injuries in Ontario is not about getting rich. If you are severely injured, you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care expenses that are not covered by OHIP. You might also be unable to continue working, or only be able to work in a part-time or reduced capacity – for the rest of your career. If you lose the right to sue, you alone will bear the responsibility for these losses. Even if the driver of the other vehicle is 100% at fault.

That’s why it is so important to know what an e-bike is. Here are the key points you need to know to ensure that what you are riding is really an e-bike:

•It cannot be capable of going faster than 32 km an hour on level ground;
•It must have operable pedals affixed to it;
•You must be able to operate it “solely by muscular power”;
•The power output of the motor must be 500W or less; and
•It must have a label stating (in both official languages) that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle.
Take a look around the streets of Toronto and you will see many bikes that match this description, with the exception of the pedals. Because so many e-bike users never actually use pedals to operate the e-bike, they remove the pedals and store them under their seats. If you are considering doing this, don’t. The moment you remove your pedals, they are inoperable. That means that you are no longer riding an e-bike. You’re just operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

There are good arguments for removing the pedal requirement from the definition of an e-bike altogether. If the goal is to encourage people to use small, green vehicles, why should it matter if they have pedals? It’s not as if you are ever required to actually use the pedals on your e-bike. But regardless of the validity of arguments for changing the definition, the fact is that the law as it stands requires pedals. So, until the legislation is changed, keep those pedals on your e-bike. That way, I can avoid painful discussions with prospective clients who have lost their right to obtain badly-needed compensation for health care expenses and lost income. And riders of e-bikes and pedal-powered bikes can turn their attention back to the endless debate about whether e-bikes belong in bike lanes with the fixies.

Fight Continues for Access to Benefits for Severely Injured Accident Victims

The Ontario government is completing a review on what constitutes a “catastrophic impairment” when a person is injured in a car accident.  The definition is critical: a person who has suffered a catastrophic impairment is entitled to access much greater levels of benefits for care and treatment.  This is not akin to a lottery ticket.  A catastrophically injured person must still prove that the benefits are reasonable and necessary.  All the definition does is raise the ceiling so that the most seriously injured accident victims may gain access to the treatment and care that they legitimately need.  Last week, an expert medical panel completed a review of the definition of catastrophic impairment.  The recommendations are based on a technical review.  In yesterday’s Toronto Star, Dale Orlando wrote an article urging the Ontario government to consider not just rigid technical definitions but also to consider the real needs of severely injured individuals.

The text of the article is reproduced below:

‘Catastrophic impairment’: What’s at stake

Published On Sun Apr 17 2011

Dale Orlando
President of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association

“If any changes are to be made to this definition of injury, the government should ensure that everyone who needs the additional level of coverage has access to it. It is important to remember that, just because someone is deemed to be catastrophically impaired, that does not confer an automatic right to benefits. They must demonstrate need on an ongoing basis in order to receive benefits from their insurer.”

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McLeish Orlando Applauds Toronto Star for Balanced Coverage

In an earlier post, we criticized a Toronto Star column for biased coverage of recent auto insurance changes.  The column, which was written by Joel Cohen, a representative of the auto industry, presented misleading and unsupported facts about accident victims.  We printed Dale Orlando’s response to the column on our blog and urged the Star to do the same.  To its credit, the Toronto Star did publish Dale Orlando’s response.  A link to his response can be found here (Mr. Orlando’s letter appears below the first letter).

We applaud the Toronto Star for presenting an alternate viewpoint on this important issue.

Insurers Must Advise Insured Persons of Rights When Refusing Benefits

When an insurance company denies accident benefits to an insured person, the insurer must advise the insured person of his or her right to dispute the denial and of the most important points in the process.    A recent court decision has confirmed that if an insurer falls short of this requirement, it will not be able to rely on the limitation period that begins with that denial.

In Yifru v. Certas Direct Insurance Company, Certas Insurance denied Ms. Yifru’s claim for non-earner benefits on June 23, 2003.   Certas advised Ms. Yifru that she could dispute the decision by applying for mediation within two years of the denial.  However, it did not advise her that she had any further options if she and Certas failed to settle her claim at mediation.

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Ouch! Injury Victims Get Whacked Twice with Assessment Costs: Changes to Ontario Auto Insurance as of September 1, 2010

[This is the fifth of a five part series by Patrick Brown on upcoming changes to auto insurance]


Injured accident victims will have a significant amount of their benefits reduced due to assessment costs.  Despite the dramatic slashing of benefits reported in my previous blogs, consumers will also face further reductions based on the fact that the cost of assessments will come out of the amount of benefits available.

For example, if a consumer is injured in a car accident and the injuries are not considered to be catastrophic, they presently have $100,000 in benefits for medical and rehabilitation treatment. Any assessment costs to obtain the benefit are over and above the $100,000.

Under the new standard policy without buy ups, the consumer will only have $50,000 available in benefit dollars.  That $50,000 includes assessments costs.  Therefore, if $5,000 is paid for an assessment to obtain the benefit, then the amount available to the injured person is reduced down to $45,000.  Continue reading