Do You Have Underinsured Motorist Coverage? Make Sure You Have This Important Coverage Before You Travel To The United States
With travel for Canadians easing next month, many Canadians are expected to take a long awaited vacation to the United States. If you are a Canadian (Ontario resident) and you are insured on an auto insurance policy issued in Ontario, you generally will be afforded coverage in the event of a motor vehicle accident while travelling outside of Ontario. Section 1.2 of the OAP 1 (the standard Ontario auto insurance policy) provides as follows:
"This policy covers you and other insured persons for incidents occurring in Canada, the United States of America and any other jurisdiction designated in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, and on a vessel travelling between ports of those countries . . ."
When Canadians are travelling to the United States, there is a very high likelihood that you will be in a jurisdiction with lower auto insurance requirements than Ontario. In the province of Ontario, all motor vehicles are required to have a minimum liability insurance policy of at least $200,000. Many people have liability limits of $1 million or more. Conversely, in the United States, it is common for vehicles to have much lower liability insurance, Based on my experience, most US states require around $25,000 in minimum liability insurance. In Florida, where many Ontario residents travel for vacation, motorists are not required to have any insurance for third party bodily injury liability. That means, you could be hit by a car or truck in Florida and the vehicle has no insurance at all to pay for your injuries or losses. This can be financially devastating if your injuries are serious and require emergency medical treatment. We routinely see medical bills in the United States that are well in excess of $100,000 USD. So how do Ontario residents protect themselves if travelling in the United States? The answer is Underinsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you and your family in the event that a vehicle with little or no insurance causes an accident in which you are injured. Canadians injured in the United States in a car accident are fortunate if they have underinsured motorist insurance, because in that case your own insurance policy steps up and pays for your losses, including financial expenses and pain and suffering. In Ontario, the Underinsured Motorist coverage comes in the form of an OPCF 44R, also known as Family Protection Coverage. Most brokers in Ontario provide this coverage when you purchase car insurance, and you may not even know you have it. If you are not sure if you have underinsured motorist coverage, call your insurance broker immediately. This coverage is usually inexpensive and extremely important. Without it, you can find yourself in financial ruin if you are seriously injured in a car accident while travelling in the United States.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the United States, we may be able to help you navigate the insurance claims. These are complex cases and we have expertise in this area of law. We have successfully represented many Canadians injured in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in the USA. Call us day or night for a free consultation with a cross-border injury lawyer or request a free consultation here.
Andrew Iacobelli is an experienced personal injury lawyer who established Iacobelli Law Firm with offices located in Ontario, Canada and Florida, U.S.A. Andrew restricts his practice to the representation of personal injury victims in claims involving serious injuries and wrongful death in Canada and the United States. Andrew is the author of "Are You a Canadian Injured in the United States? Claim the Damages and Insurance Coverage the Right Way".
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