Auto Insurance Coverage: You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Till It’s Gone

Sometimes the full effects of changes to auto insurance legislation aren’t felt or understood until you have to make a claim. There are so many numbers, conditions and exceptions to keep track of, and it can be hard to truly appreciate these abstracts. Here is a recent news story that illustrates this concept perfectly.

34-year old Adam Bari was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on June 1, 2016. He was mistakenly pronounced dead on the scene, but survived, sustaining brain trauma, broken bones and internal organ damage, and was in a coma for about a month. The recovery and rehabilitation process has been long and grueling – not to mention expensive. His insurance benefits paid out $86,000.00 but those funds are nearly depleted. His family is now on the brink of bankruptcy.

The really dreadful part? Bari’s accident—which investigators determined he was not at fault for—occurred on the first day that changes to auto insurance rules came into effect in Ontario. Those changes reduced the maximum coverage from $2 million to $1 million, and changed the way that injuries are deemed to be “catastrophic”.  When announcing these changes, the Ontario government said that it was a way of reducing the costs of  insurance premiums.

That’s right—if Bari’s accident had taken place just 12 hours earlier, he likely would have qualified as “catastrophically injured” and been eligible for up to $2 million in compensation. But instead, he got less than 10% of that amount.

The Baris say they were notified of upcoming changes to premiums and benefits, but not the fact that injury assessment criteria were changing. Said Adam’s wife, Courtney Bari, “Our insurance broker didn’t even know. How are people supposed to know and prepare for something like this if your brokers don’t even know?”

To try to recover healthcare costs, the family is planning to sue the driver, who was charged with careless driving, and a GoFundMe page set up on their behalf has raised several thousand dollars.

So what, if anything, can we learn from the terrible situation that the Bari family finds themselves in? As we blogged about back in May, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association encourages policy holders to use the money saved on lower insurance premiums to purchase optional catastrophic injury coverage for medical, rehab and attendant care, and bring the maximum back up to $2 million.

That’s sound advice, but tragically, cold comfort to the Bari family.