Auto Insurance 101: How to make sense of Accident Benefits
Learn what’s covered if you’re hurt in an auto accident.

Your auto policy doesn’t just cover damage to your vehicle. It’s also there to help you recover if you’re injured in an accident (regardless of who’s at fault) through Accident Benefits. Good news, right? But just knowing you’re covered isn’t enough. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand exactly what you’re covered for.

How you’re covered
These are your standard accident benefits:

  • Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care (catastrophic and non-catastrophic injuries)
    This covers you for medical expenses related to your injuries that not covered elsewhere such as physiotherapy or prescriptions.
  • Income Replacement
    Not getting paid because you were hurt in in accident and don’t have coverage elsewhere? Your insurance company will replace a percentage of your weekly paycheque.
  • Death and Funeral Benefit
    If you pass away because of an auto accident, your family is taken care of with a lump sum payment and expenses for your funeral.

This coverage is mandatory in all provinces and territories except Newfoundland and Labrador. In Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, it’s included as part of your government auto insurance plan. For the rest of Canada, these benefits are included in your policy through a private insurer.

Live in Ontario?
In addition to the coverages above, you have a few more standard accident benefits included in your policy.

  • Caregiver Benefit
    Need help as the primary caregiver for your children because you’re seriously hurt in an accident? You’re covered for catastrophic injuries (in other words, any injury which causes you to lose the use of an arm or leg, vision in both eyes, or a serious brain injury).

  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefit
    Housekeeping or regular maintenance like mowing the lawn can become impossible if you’re seriously hurt in an accident. It’s taken care of for catastrophic injuries. 

In Ontario, you can also choose to upgrade any of your standard accident benefits coverages (listed above) or purchase optional benefits.
Here are a few helpful tips for when to consider an upgrade:

  • Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits (for non-catastrophic injuries and catastrophic injuries)
    If you don’t have any other coverage outside of your auto policy for medical expenses, it’s a good idea to increase your limit since these bills can really add up.
  • Income Replacement
    Make more than $20,000 per year? You should think about increasing your income replacement limit.
  • Caregiver Benefit
    Standard coverage only applies for catastrophic injuries. If you’re the primary caregiver in your household, upgrading means you’ll be covered for all injuries.
  • Dependent Care Benefit
    If you’re employed and typically rely on childcare, you may need extra help caring for your children because you’re seriously hurt in an accident. You’re covered for the cost to hire someone.
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance expenses
    Even minor injuries can make regular maintenance and housekeeping difficult, upgrade so that you’re covered in the event of any injury.
  • Indexation
    Everyone should consider this! In the event of a long-term injury the value of your income replacement and medical care benefits will be adjusted to compensate for inflation.
  • Death and Funeral
    For those of you who don’t have any other coverage outside of your auto policy for death or funeral expenses, you might want to increase this limit.
  • Bonus: Priority of Payment Waiver
    If you choose to upgrade any of your Accident Benefits coverages, you’ll automatically be covered by your own policy even if you’re hurt in another vehicle (which may otherwise only cover you up to the standard limits). 

In June 2016, the Ontario government made changes to the standard auto insurance policy. Here’s a quick summary of those changes in our article: Regulatory Ontario auto insurance changes explained.

Live in Quebec?
In Quebec, you’re covered by the SAAQ (Societe d’assurance automobile du Quebec) auto insurance plan anywhere in the world, regardless of whether you are responsible or not. But, you also have the option to purchase additional Accident Benefits coverage to supplement this. Learn more in our article: What you need to know about the SAAQ.

Want to learn more about your policy? Check out Auto Insurance 101: What is perils coverage and why should I care? to make sense of your physical damage options.