There seems to be a great deal of confusion about so-called “Section B” benefits.
Section B benefits are also known as “AB Benefits” or “accident benefits.” People are not sure exactly what they are entitled to, who pays, whether accessing these benefits counts as an insurance claim, and so forth.
I will attempt to address some of the more common questions I encounter.
1) What are section B benefits and what is available?
When you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident (this means any accident involving a motor vehicle, even if you were a pedestrian), you are entitled to medical benefits. Click here for a definition of “motor vehicle.”
You’re entitled to medical benefits REGARDLESS of whose fault the accident was. Section B benefits provide a maximum of $50,000 of medical coverage up to two years from the date of the accident, whichever expires first. They also provide up to $400/week of disability benefits, again to a maximum of two years after the accident.
Depending on the initial diagnosis, 10 or 21 visits will be covered by direct billing. After that, you have to pay, and then you’ll be reimbursed. Certain modes of treatment, which are deemed “questionable” by the insurance industry and/or the Government of Alberta have strict limits set on them – these include chiropractic, massage and acupuncture. In practice, this means that the only commonly-used mode of treatment that you can really use up to $50,000 is physiotherapy.
2) Who pays?
The insurer of whatever vehicle you were the occupant of (whether as a driver or a passenger) must provide you with section B benefits, regardless of whose fault the accident was. “Fault’ determines compensation, not medical benefits. If you were a cyclist or a pedestrian, the insurer of the motor vehicle you collided with provides the benefits.
3) Does using accident benefits count as a claim in my insurance history?
Many people worry that their insurance premiums will go up if they use these benefits. This is not the case – these are no-fault benefits and using them will not affect your insurance rates.
There are many other issues and questions that simply cannot be addressed in a short blog, such as the resistance of many insurance companies that keeps people from utilizing these benefits fully.