In 2014, the provincial government passed the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act to fight fraud and abuse within the system. In 2015, changes to Ontario’s auto insurance product were outlined in the Ontario Budget. Measures were put in place not only to combat fraud, but to provide greater choice for consumers and help achieve the Ontario governments’ promised rate reduction targets.
In a nutshell, new regulations include lower accident benefit limits in standard insurance policies, new options to increase coverage, new procedures for payment and a mandatory Winter Tire Discount (up to 5%) offered by insurance companies across Ontario.
Auto reform changes come into effect this year: the winter tire discount is effective as of January 1st while most changes come into effect June 1st.
Why does any of this matter?
Car insurance can sometimes come with negative connotation – monthly expenses could be used elsewhere (for that vacation you need, for example). It’s perhaps only at renewal when you might think about the greater issues at play: insurance as a safety net, protecting against risk; insurance as a critical factor in individual and collective welfare. If you, a friend or loved one is involved in an accident, it’s at that point your outlook changes to one of appreciation. What would have happened if a policy hadn’t been in place?
The opportunity with this new set of measures is to step back and reflect on what you really need. Does your employer provide a Group Insurance Plan? Look into what your policy covers… most benefit packages are limited to $500/year per practitioner, which can be exhausted quickly even in cases of minor accidents. If you have children or elderly parents that depend on you, who would care for them if you were injured? If you had to hire someone to carry out household responsibilities, how would you subsidize the expense?
Standard policies are just that – standard. They don’t include benefits like dependant care, which reimburses additional expenses to care for your dependants. While auto insurance products are becoming more affordable for consumers, gaps might exist depending on your lifestyle. The good news is there’s opportunity to fill those gaps by increasing coverage or adding options to cover specific areas of your life. Purchasing appropriate coverage is an investment in your family, your children, your parents… ultimately it’s an investment in your lifestyle. What could be more important?
Watch for awareness mailers from your insurance company this March, and make sure to talk to your insurance broker to ensure you have the best possible coverage based on your lifestyle.