REGINA – The Saskatchewan government is moving forward with changes to its auto injury coverage that it says will help people after a crash.
Don McMorris, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, says the changes will close loopholes that left some people unable to sue.
One change would allow an innocent party or family to sue for pain and suffering or bereavement damages if an impaired driver was killed while causing a collision.
Injured people would also be able to sue if they were hurt by someone fleeing from police or street racing.
The government also aims to update amounts paid for living expenses and to cover costs of special equipment such as wheelchairs.
“My initial thought is that it’s legislation that has a minor impact on the everyday person,” he says. “I don’t think that these changes, even if implemented in Ontario, would help the majority of people.”
In Ontario, the family of an impaired driver killed while causing a collision cannot sue for pain and suffering or bereavement damages, says Singer, but they can claim accident benefits.
“There is a death benefit and funeral expenses that can be claimed by the family against the driver’s own insurer,” he says, noting the issue is not black and white. “They have the right to bring an accident benefits claim, but the insurance company may defend it on the basis of an exclusion due to impairment.”
Singer says, “To me, there are such a small number of cases that would fall into that category … I don’t think it would make a big difference.”
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for change in Ontario’s auto insurance landscape, says Singer.
“The changes that need to be made in Ontario are to reduce the statutory threshold back to where it was years ago,” he says. “In August, the government again increased the statutory deductible. We’re going in the wrong direction.”
Due to the recent changes, the deductible is now $36,540 on all awards under $122,000, says Singer.
Legislation to make the changes in Saskatchewan will be introduced this fall, but likely would not be passed until the spring after the provincial election on April 4.
– With files from AdvocateDaily.com