As we’ve discussed before, when you’re involved in a car accident in B.C., you may have as many as three distinct legal claims: a claim for Part 7 benefits, a claim for vehicle damage, and a tort claim against a negligent driver. By default, those latter two claims are only available if someone else was at fault in causing the accident.
But ICBC Part 7 benefits are the no-fault portion of B.C. auto insurance. That is, they are available regardless of who was at fault for the accident. You can be eligible to receive them if someone else was at fault, if you were at fault, or—in cases involving inevitable accidents—even if nobody was at fault.
This post takes a closer look at ICBC Part 7 benefits in British Columbia, explaining who is covered by Part 7 and what types of benefits are available.
Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation (from which the “Part 7” name comes) defines who is an “insured” for purposes of ICBC’s no-fault benefits. If a person qualifies as an insured under an ICBC insurance policy, then he or she is eligible for Part 7 benefits under that policy. For purposes of Part 7 benefits, the definition of “insured” is broad, including:
In other words, in general anyone injured or killed in a B.C. motor vehicle collision can qualify for Part 7 benefits.
ICBC Part 7 benefits include the following:
Each is explained in more detail below.
When an employed person becomes disabled as a result of a B.C. car accident, he or she can qualify for disability benefits under Part 7. In general, these benefits pay 75% of pre-disability gross earnings, up to a maximum of $300 per week.
ICBC will not pay disability benefits until you have received or been denied medical employment insurance benefits from the government.
To qualify for disability benefits, the disability must prevent the person “from engaging in employment or an occupation for which [he or she] is reasonably suited by education, training or experience.” Also, the disability must last for at least 7 days, and ICBC will not pay benefits for those first 7 days of disability.
A similar disability benefit (with similar limitations) is available for a homemaker who becomes “substantially and continuously disable[d] . . . from regularly performing most of [his or her] household tasks.” A “homemaker” is the member of a household who does most of the housekeeping for the household without being paid. The homemaker’s benefit is limited to $145 per week.
Part 7 disability benefits last for as long as you remain disabled, up to age 65. However, after the first two years (104 weeks), ICBC will reduce the amount it pays you by the amount you receive (or could receive) as Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.
For accidents occurring after April 1, 2019, disability benefits will increase from a maximum of $300 per week up to $740 per week. Homemaking benefits will increase from $145 to $280 per week.
When a person eligible for Part 7 benefits is injured in an accident, ICBC will pay all reasonable expenses incurred by the person as a result of the injury for the following services:
In addition, ICBC may pay for certain rehabilitation benefits, such as:
However, medical and rehabilitation benefits are limited. For accidents before January 1, 2018, that limit is $150,000. For accidents after January 1, 2018, the limit is $300,000.
In addition, ICBC often will not cover the entire amount of your treatment benefits. For example, you will typically need to pay $20 to $40 out of pocket for each physiotherapy session until April 1, 2019.
Starting April 1, 2019, ICBC will pay increased amount for your treatment so that you do not need to pay out of pocket for your treatment sessions. Also, you will be pre-approved for physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiology and counseling sessions.
If a person entitled to Part 7 benefits is killed in a car accident, ICBC will pay up to $2,500 for burial and funeral expenses.
ICBC will also pay a death benefit to the family of the person killed in a car accident if he or she left a surviving spouse, dependent child, dependent parent, or, if the person killed was a dependent child, a parent. The amount of this death benefit ranges from $500 to $5,000, depending on the age and family status of the deceased person.
In addition, ICBC will pay the following:
Starting April 1, 2019, ICBC will pay increased death, supplemental and survivor’s benefits.
As complicated as the above discussion may seem, the rules regarding Part 7 benefits are far more complicated still. ICBC can leverage its familiarity with those rules to try to avoid paying out what it owes to injured British Columbians. And those rules hide many traps for the unwary that can hinder an injured person’s ability to recover all he or she is entitled to.
Before you contact ICBC to start the process of making a claim for Part 7 benefits, you should consult an experienced ICBC claim lawyer for help understanding your rights and properly preparing your application.
The lawyers of Preszler Law Firm in British Columbia are experienced in guiding clients through the ICBC claims process. We work tirelessly to investigate and understand your claim and develop a strong case to rebut ICBC’s efforts to derail it. If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident in British Columbia, contact us today for a free consultation.