Written By: Robert Merkel
Insurance Committee
Originally Published in the November 1990
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.


What is wrong with insurance? Actually, I don’t mean the coverage. We can buy insurance for just about everything, including protection from the space junk falling on our heads. If we insured ourselves for everything that could conceivable happen to us, we would not only work for insurance, but would not even be able to make enough money to pay for all the coverage. Come to think of it, is there an insurance to cover us in case we starve death, because all our money was gobbled up by insurance? Interesting thought, but useless! To get back to my question, what is wrong with insurance? There is a problem and it has nothing to do with insurance per se. It is the working of the contract! Why do we have to lawyers to understand what coverage we have bought? Is there no way at all, to write an insurance contract for regular human beings to understand? I know the insurance company has to cover itself for every legal eventuality, but can this not be accomplished with words the normal earth walking homo sapiens can understand? Some of the words and phrases are not even in the dictionary; are the stuffed shirts, sitting in oxygen depleted boardrooms making them up as they go along?

At the moment companies are cutting each other’s throats to get our business. Would now maybe be the right time to ask for a contract that we can read and understand? Another interesting thought, but are insurance people listening?

To add to the nightmare, we now have “The Ontario Motorist Protection Plan”. What does it mean? I will try to give you the basic facts in a few, straight forward words.

You do not have to do anything; your policy is automatically converted to the new system. What is the new system? It will provide guaranteed accident benefits to all victims in an accident, regardless of fault. You heard the phrase “No Fault Insurance” before! That’s what it is all about…..It however, applies only to compensation for personal injuries under the accident benefit portion of your insurance. Your right to sue for damages is severely limited under the new system. In its place, the accident benefit section of your policy has been greatly enhanced and is guaranteed to all victims. What it simply means, you are receiving payments from your own insurance company for weekly income benefits, medical bills, funeral expenses and so on. Before, you had to wait for the “other guy’s” insurance and all the accompanying delays. It is therefore called a “first party” system of insurance. In other words, you deal only with the insurance company from which you purchased your coverage. Damage to your vehicle will only be paid if someone else was responsible for the accident, unless you have purchased optional collision coverage. The “No Fault” system does not mean that bad drivers will go unpunished, just watch their rates go up!!!

There will also be a new approach to vehicle damage. You will be able to recover to the extent that you are not at fault from your own insurance company (for damage to your car and contents). Say you were 60% at fault for the accident; you would receive 40% of your loss. If you have optional collision coverage, it will make up the other 60% for which you were at fault. I hope that I was able to give you the basics of the new system in a plain language.

Where I have problems, is the following: You still have an opportunity to sue for compensation for the most serious cases involving death, permanent serious impairment of bodily function caused by continuing injury that is physical in nature….Who decides what is serious? What may be serious to one may not be that serious to another. Do we have a panel of bureaucrats weighing the value of your right arm and deciding that since you are still walking; your injury is not of a serious nature? If it is left up to you when to sue, aren’t we right back to where we came from? I don’t know, but then again, I am not an expert.

In any event, without going overboard, make certain you are insured adequately and don’t lose your life’s work in an insurance law suit.


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