Toronto, Ontario – Family members of victims killed in car crashes are asking the Ontario government to stop allowing insurance companies to keep deductibles taken off their legitimate losses, and for removal of rules that limit compensations to seniors, children and homemakers.
Family members of four crash victims, along with an injured survivor, held a joint press conference on Friday asking for changes to provincial regulations so that insurance companies will have to pay them compensation to which they are entitled.
“Our family feels like it has been victimized twice,” said Stephen Nelson of Woodstock, Ontario. “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.”
Glenna Nelson was killed in a 2004 crash after a truck driver struck the car in which she was a passenger, forcing the car off the road. The Nelsons say they were deprived of $165,000 of their legitimate losses through the operation of deductibles, allowing the insurance company of the truck driver to keep the money.
Other speakers at the press conference included Adrienne Seggie, the mother of a teenage boy killed as a pedestrian by street racers in 2006; Linda Cowles, whose mother was killed in 2007 when the car in which she was a passenger was struck by a Toronto Transit Commission bus; and Julia Rushnell, whose parents were killed in a 2004 crash when their car was struck by a transport truck.
The victims’ families are asking the Ontario government to change the deductible and remove the limits on claims for pain and suffering. In 2003, the deductible was increased on pain and suffering awards that did not exceed $100,000 from $15,000 to $30,000, allowing insurance companies to keep an additional $15,000 from crash victims. The deductible for fatal crash claims not exceeding $50,000 was increased at the same time from $7,500 to $15,000. The families say that both changes were done to increase profits for the insurance industry.
They are also calling on the government to revoke the “verbal threshold”, a test that limits the rights of even seriously injured victims from receiving full compensation for their pain and suffering. Rules added to the threshold in 2003 discriminate against senior citizens, children and homemakers, making it more difficult for them to receive reasonable compensation for their losses. In cases where the victims cannot prove entitlement, the insurance company of the wrongdoers is not required to pay anything to the victim for pain and suffering or health care costs in a claim against the wrongdoer.
At the press conference, 92-year-old Margaret Allison said that she and her husband were seriously injured when the driver of another car ran a red light, but with costs for home care and medical assistance piling up, she has been told that she and her husband’s injuries might not meet the threshold test of “permanent” or “serious”, which would relieve the wrongdoer’s insurance company of any obligation to compensate them for their losses.