The new Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) came into effect September 1, 2010. Among the key amendments, there has been a reduction of medical and rehabilitation benefits from $100,000.00 to $50,000.00. In some cases, this will be further reduced to $3,500.00 under the new Minor Injury Guideline (MIG).
The MIG applies to accidents that occurred on or after September 1, 2010, and replaces the Pre Authorized Framework for Grade I and II whiplash associated disorders. Section 268.3 of the Insurance Act requires that the MIG be considered in any determination involving the interpretation of the SABS.
An insured person’s impairment comes within this Guideline if the impairment is predominantly a minor injury. “Minor injury” is defined in the new SABS as a “sprain, strain, whiplash associated disorder, contusion, abrasion, laceration or subluxation and any clinically associate sequelae”. Each of these conditions are further defined to specify the severity of each to move it out of the “minor injury” category. For example, “whiplash associated disorder” is defined as “a whiplash injury that does not exhibit objective, demonstrative, definable and clinically relevant neurological signs, and does not exhibit a fracture in or dislocation of the spine”.
The objectives of the MIG are to speed access to rehabilitation for persons who sustain minor injuries in auto accidents, improve utilization of health care resources, provide certainty around cost and payment for insurers and regulated health professionals, and be more inclusive in providing immediate access to treatment without insurer approval for those persons with minor injuries.
Many accident victims may now find their benefits reduced to $3,500.00 and if they do not have a tort claim, they may have little alternative for additional medical coverage. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario expects the MIG to capture 30%-40% of accident claims.
Section 18(2) provides for an exclusion from MIG if the insured person’s health practitioner determines and provides compelling evidence that the insured person has a pre-existing medical condition that will prevent the insured person from achieving maximal recovery from the minor injury if subject to the $3,500.00 limit. This exception raises the question of what the courts will consider to be “compelling evidence”.
- Kristen Dearlove, Student-at-Law