Toronto Van Attack Victims May Have More Legal Options, Experts Say

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By Jacob Maslow

Victims in the deadly Toronto van attack may have a wider range of recourse options because the vehicle was covered under the province’s insurance system, lawyers say. Auto insurance is mandatory in Ontario. Pedestrians who were struck by the vehicle and their families will be able to access the rental agency’s insurance coverage. If that is not available or doesn’t fully cover the cost of damages, they have recourse through their own auto insurance policies.

According to lawyers, victims can make a claim against their personal car insurance policies if the vehicle driver’s coverage is not enough. Drivers in Ontario must carry at least $200,000 in underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage applies regardless of whether the policyholder was in their vehicle at the time of the incident.

The Insurance Act caps liability for rental insurers at $1 million, and that figure is further reduced by available insurance from other parties, such as the renter, lessee and others connected to the incident.

The van attack, which occurred on April 23, killed 10 people and injured 16. The driver of the rental van drove down a sidewalk on Yonge Street, running over pedestrians in the process.

Funds have been established for victims, but insurance policies may also help cover the cost of funeral expenses and rehabilitation for surviving victims and families.

If neither the driver nor the victim has insurance coverage, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund may be an option. The government-run organization is funded by the insurance industry and may provide benefits to victims.

Auto insurance has been a hot-button issue in Canada, both in Ontario – where premiums are some of the highest in the country – and in other provinces.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, reviews are underway to do something about high insurance premiums. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) recently stated that there was no need to postpone the Public Utilities Board (PUB) insurance review.

Hearings are set to start on June 4.

Amanda Dean, IBC’s Atlantic vice-president, says insurance premiums have been too high for too long.

Insurance rates have increased steadily over the last 14 years, when premiums were last reviewed. Changes will likely be introduced in the fall after the PUB review process is complete.

The IBC has made three recommendations: more stability is needed through implementation of minor-injury cap; changes need to be made to encourage competition; and better procedures must be put in place to improve the outcome of collision victims.

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