If you are travelling from Ontario to another province in Canada or to the United States, you should be aware that your Ontario Accident Benefits coverage may not always apply.
Accident Benefits Coverage While Driving Your Own Vehicle:
If driving your own vehicle from Ontario in another province or the U.S., your Ontario Accident Benefits Insurance coverage will apply if you are involved in an accident. Similarly, if you rent a vehicle, you will have coverage under the Ontario Accident Benefits so long as you have purchased
If You Are in a Rental Vehicle
Most Ontario auto insurance companies offer the option of additional coverage in the event that you are injured in an automobile that you don’t own. The coverage comes in the form of an endorsement known as "Legal Liability for Damage to Non-Owned Automobiles." It is also referred to as the "Rental Vehicle Insurance Endorsement" or "OPCF 27." The OPCF-27 endorsement provides coverage for Liability, Accident Benefits, Uninsured Automobile and Direct Compensation Property Damage coverage described in your policy when an insured person drives other automobiles.
If You Are in Another Person's Vehicle
If you are a driver or owner of a vehicle that is registered in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred, you may not have access to Ontario Accident Benefits. Section 59(1) of the SABS provides that entitlement to Accident Benefits for an accident in a foreign jurisdictions as set out in s. 2(3) is granted ONLY if a person meets the definition of insured within jurisdiction, and dies or sustains injury AND no benefits are received under the law of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred.
Among the criteria for eligibility for Accident Benefits is the following the applicant was not an owner, driver, or occupant of an automobile registered in the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. As such, if you are the driver or passenger of a vehicle registered in the State or Province where the accident occurred, you will not be allowed to claim Ontario Accident Benefits. Your rights for first party insurance benefits will be governed by the law of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred. This is significant, as some US states have much lower benefits available than Ontario. For instance, if you are visiting Florida, and are injured while a passenger or driver of a local Florida registered vehicle, you will not be able to claim Ontario Accident Benefits. This could have serious consequences to your ability to recover your losses following an accident as Florida only provides for $10,000 for PIP / medical and rehabilitation. Ontario benefits, on the other hand, provide as much as $1Million in coverage in the case of a catastrophic injury.
If You Are a Pedestrian Hit by a Car in the US or Another Province
If you are an Ontario resident with auto insurance coverage in Ontario, you will likely have the option of electing Ontario Accident Benefits if you are struck by a motor vehicle in any Canadian Province or US State.
Before Making an Election of Benefits Get Advice From an Experienced Lawyer
Generally, your election of benefits is final and cannot be reversed once made. That is why it is important to speak with a lawyer that has experience in cross border accident claims.
Andrew Iacobelli is an experienced personal injury lawyer who established Iacobelli Law Firm with offices located in Ontario, Canada as well as offices in Florida, U.S.A. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of personal injury victims in claims involving serious injuries and wrongful death.