British Columbia law requires that every driver in the province carry auto insurance provided by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (more commonly known by its acronym, ICBC). ICBC’s Basic Autoplan is the mandatory insurance coverage required for British Columbia drivers, although drivers can buy additional coverage if desired.
If you are insured with ICBC and involved in a car accident and the other driver is uninsured, underinsured, or unknown (as in a hit-and-run accident), you can still make a claim for compensation with ICBC.
The compensation you receive in these types of accidents depends on which driver is at fault for the accident, and you must take certain steps to ensure that your claim is not barred. This post explores these topics in more detail.
The coverage provided by ICBC’s Basic Autoplan can be divided into two broad categories: No-Fault Benefits, which are available regardless of who was at fault in causing an accident, and third-party liability coverage, which is available to you when the other driver was at fault (or is available to the other driver if you were at fault).
With ICBC’s Basic Autoplan insurance, you are entitled to “No-Fault Benefits” provided under Part 7 of the Regulations to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. No-Fault Benefits are available to an insured regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident. No-Fault Benefits include:
You are entitled to No-Fault Benefits even if the car accident is your fault and regardless of whether the other driver is uninsured, underinsured, or unidentified. Consulting with a lawyer can help ensure that you comply with notice and reporting requirements to secure your entitlement to these benefits.
Basic Autoplan insurance also provides a minimum of $200,000 in third-party liability coverage. Third-party liability coverage pays out for an injured person’s injuries and property damage if the other driver was at fault. This coverage also applies in car accidents where the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. Most drivers elect to carry $1M to $2M in third-party coverage.
Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act sets out how claims should proceed against uninsured or underinsured drivers when those drivers are at fault for an accident.
If you know the identity of the driver who caused your accident, then you should provide written notice to ICBC as soon as possible. In these circumstances, ICBC may negotiate with you to settle the claim or proceed to trial in lieu of the uninsured or underinsured driver. Compensation may include pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, loss of housekeeping ability damages, wage loss, and reduction in future earning capacity.
Claiming for an amount in excess of $200,000 is complicated and will require an injured party to show that he or she has made efforts to collect compensation from the at-fault motorist. If you can show that the at-fault driver cannot pay the amount even after the matter has gone to trial, then you can proceed in arbitration against ICBC for payment under underinsured motorist protection (often called “UMP”).
In hit-and-run car accidents, you must take certain steps under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act to prove that the accident occurred and that you have made all reasonable efforts to identify the hit-and-run driver. You must provide written notice to ICBC about the accident as soon as possible, but no more than six months after the accident occurred.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, taking steps such as posting an advertisement in the newspaper, signs at the accident site asking for witnesses, canvassing potential witnesses near the accident site, and reporting the accident to the police immediately and following up on their investigation may be considered reasonable steps to learn the identity of the driver.
UMP and hit-and-run claims in British Columbia are complicated and often require quick action to ensure your claim can succeed. Missing a deadline or lacking critical evidence can spell disaster for your claim and leave you holding the bag after an accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured, underinsured, or unknown driver, you should work with a lawyer to make sure your claim is handled properly.
The lawyers at Preszler Law Firm routinely handle ICBC claims involving uninsured, underinsured, and unknown drivers. They also provide free case evaluations to help injured British Columbians understand what their rights are and what remedies are available to them following a car accident.