Relatives of Auto Fatalities Call for Change to Ontario’s Auto Policy Deductible

Relatives of victims killed in automobile crashes are calling on the province to stop enabling insurance companies to keep deductible portions of monies paid on policy claims for their loved ones.

The group of relatives has the support of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association along with the Ontario Bar Association’s Auto Insurance Reform Working Group, and both organizations sent representatives to a news conference where the initiative was announced.

They are also asking that rules limiting insurance compensation to seniors, children and homemakers be removed.

“Our family feels like it has been victimized twice,” Stephen Nelson, whose mother died in in a crash, told the news conference. “The pain of losing my mother was terrible, but the pain of being denied compensation from the wrongdoer to increase insurance company profits, depriving my family of what is rightfully ours, has been unbearable.” A truck slammed in to the vehicle in which is mother was a passenger and the driver’s insurance company subsequently withheld $165,000 worth of deductibles.

Likewise, Julia Rushnell says an insurer withheld upwards of $300,000 in deductibles following the loss of her parents, John and Jean Naumann, in a 2004 automobile crash.

In 2003, deductibles for pain and suffering awards under $100,000 were doubled, allowing insurance companies to withhold more monies from accident victims, the group contends. The deductible for claims under $50,000 involving death was also doubled.

“The insurance industry enjoyed record profits after the deductibles were increase in 2003 and these deductibles were called a ‘tax on pain’ by former Associate Chief Justice Hon. Coulter Osborne,” Patrick Brown, president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, told the news conference.

In a report on Civil Justice Reform, Justice Osborne raised concern about the deductible increases, suggesting they work to restrict access to the courts by providing an “economic disincentive to make a claim.”

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