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Can a Canadian driver collect Michigan No-Fault benefits after a car accident in Michigan?

November 28, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Auto insurance attorney explains No-Fault law options for Canadian drivers injured in Michigan

I’ve probably helped people from Windsor and other cities in Canada who’ve been injured in auto accidents in Michigan for nearly 20years. Canadians who come across the border to do their shopping at Somerset in Troy, or who are here on business and are injured in Michigan have an interesting option available to them that actually can make a huge difference in their legal case.

Canadians are justifiably proud of their health insurance system.  But if they are seriously injured in a car accident, they have an even better option. It often  makes sense for a Canadian driver who has been injured in Michigan in a car accident to opt to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits.  Michigan No-Fault has been described as the “best auto insurance coverage in the country,” providing the nation’s “best no-fault medical benefits of any state.”’

It also is a tremendous help for the lawyer in helping Canadian accident victims recover a better legal settlement, because of the challenges of getting objective testing like MRIs and CT scans, or referrals to specialists under the Canadian system.  These referrals, and objective proof of injury, are required to bring a case for a Canadian injured in Michigan under Michigan’s auto accident threshold law.

Fortunately for an injured Canadian driver, the laws in both Michigan and, at least, Ontario, Canada, are on her side.

Under the following two scenarios, a Canadian driver who was injured in a Michigan car accident is entitled to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits:

  • The driver’s Canadian auto insurance company is “certified” in Michigan.
  • The driver is covered by an Ontario auto insurance policy which allows her to “elect” to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits.

Michigan’s No-Fault Law guarantees the following insurance benefits for seriously injured car accident victims:

  • Unlimited, lifetime medical benefits that are reasonably necessary to the victim’s care, recovery or rehabilitation;
  • Lost wages reimbursement;
  • Household services reimbursement;
  • Coverage for attendant care expenses; and
  • Home and/or vehicle modifications. (MCL 500.3107)

The advantages of the Michigan No-Fault Law for Canadian drivers

If there is a very serious automobile accident, the advantages of recovering attendant care alone (one of the medical benefits under the No Fault act) makes it worthwhile for an injured Canadian to opt to collect Michigan No-Fault.

Here’s the law:  Under Michigan’s No Fault law, a non-Michigan-resident driver who is injured in a car accident is not entitled to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits for her accident-related injuries.

However, there is a “but.”  There is an exception to that rule for a non-Michigan-resident driver whose auto insurer “has filed a certification in compliance with section 3163” of the Michigan No-Fault Law. (MCL 500.3113(c))

The “certification” is a guarantee or promise by an auto insurer that, if its insured (who is a non-Michigan resident) is injured in a Michigan car accident, the auto insurer will pay benefits to its non-Michigan-resident insured in accordance with Michigan’s No Fault Law. (MCL 500.3163(1) and (2))

Here’s a link to the most recent “No-Fault Certification List” from the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, which identifies the auto insurers, including Canadian auto insurance companies, who are “certified” under Michigan’s No-Fault Law:

Ontario accident benefits regulation

Under Ontario’s accident benefits regulation, O. Reg. 403/96, s. 57, when a driver who is covered by an Ontario auto insurance policy is injured in a Michigan car accident, “the person may elect” to collect Michigan No-Fault benefits rather than the benefits provided under her Ontario auto insurance policy.

Specifically, the Ontario regulation provides:

“If, as a result of an [auto] accident in … the United States of America, a person … incurs an expense …, the insurer shall pay, as the person may elect … benefits in the same amounts and subject to the same conditions as if the person was a resident of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred and was entitled to payments under the law of that jurisdiction.” (O. Reg. 403/96, s. 57(1)(b))

Who pays for a Canadian driver’s benefits?

An injured Canadian driver’s  auto insurance company pays for the driver’s Michigan No-Fault benefits, under both of the scenarios described above.  This means that the vast majority of people coming into Michigan from Windsor and other cities in Canada on business or for shopping or sports are going to be covered.

The Michigan No Fault Law’s “certification” rule provides that an injured non-Michigan-resident driver, i.e., an injured Canadian driver, has “the right to receive [Michigan No Fault] benefits” from her “certified,” Canadian auto insurer. (MCL 500.3163(3))

And, the Ontario accident benefits regulation provides that “the insurer shall pay” for Michigan No-Fault benefits when an injured Ontario driver “elects” to collect Michigan No Fault benefits after a Michigan car accident. (O. Reg. 403/96, s. 57(1))

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