Under Compensating


Could Workers Comp (WSIB) under compensate you?

Contact NAL Insurance and see what your other options could be in the case that you were injured and unable to work.



Here’s a scary workers’ comp story to tell your grandkids. Once upon a time, an Ontario-based owner-operator suffered a work-related injury. The Workers’ Compensation (WCB) people wanted to determine how much he should be paid while he was off work so asked him to submit the previous year’s tax return. In spite of being injured, the owner-operator was a clever man who managed to write off a lot of stuff. His net income was zero. So was the WCB payout. As Bogdan Szybalski, an account exec with insurer Hugh Wood Canada Ltd. says: “WSIB [Ontario’s version of the Workers’ Comp board, otherwise known as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board] collects premiums based on your gross income but they pay out according to your net. There’s something wrong with that.”
There’re quite a few things wrong with WSIB, it would seem. In addition to the way it assesses an independent worker’s net income, WSIB is seriously limited in its definition of on-the-job mishaps. For an owner-operator, it’s often hard to tell what is or isn’t a workplace injury. Not only that but if you are an independent operator and covered only by WSIB (or the equivalent in
other provinces) you might have a healthy percentage of your lost income replaced by WSIB, but you probably won’t ever recover other losses; i.e., truck payments, contracts, goodwill, you name it.
It can all go down the tube. Who hasn’t heard the one about the owner-operator who fell off his truck and broke his pelvis? The way the story goes, he had his medical bills taken care of, he received 75 percent of his income, and he had enough to live on, but he hadn’t taken out a payment-protection policy so he ultimately lost his truck and had to declare bankruptcy. Also, truck insurance companies are increasingly insisting that a company’s owner-operators carry coverage beyond what WSIB provides. Fortunately, there are quite a few alternatives available, so he who is willing to pay can relax. Further, fleets are finding that drivers are attracted to companies that offer upgraded benefits. Offering an owneroperator the chance to join a group plan, with the discount that being a member of a group brings, is a driver lure. It’s also often good for the carrier. According to Glenn Caldwell, a national accounts sales manager for the National Truck League of Canada, if a fleet was to insist that owner-operators maintain full WSIB coverage, “chances are they would need to pay the owner-operators an additional two percent to cover the costs and I’m not sure where this additional revenue would come from.
“Many owner-operators who are required to carry WSIB currently spend over $300 a month for coverage which really only covers workplace injuries.” Caldwell maintains his company can set
up 24-hour coverage for owner-operators for between $100 and $130 a month. Zig Swiercz is Manager of Compensation & Benefits at Mississauga, Ont.-based TST Solutions L.P., which 10 years ago decided to require its owner-operators to opt into their WSIB alternative plan. “The rates charged to the owner-operators were significantly lower than what they were paying for WSIB,” he says. “And they were providing at least equivalent coverage. In addition, we did not look at their tax returns as the benefit was based on a percentage of their revenue.”