Last updated Sep. 1, 2018.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is the province’s mandatory auto insurer. Every driver in the province is required to maintain coverage under ICBC’s Basic Autoplan, although that coverage can be supplemented with further insurance. Under the Basic Autoplan, an injured driver may have three distinct types of ICBC claims to pursue following a car accident in British Columbia:
Each of these types of ICBC claims is subject to its own set of rules and procedures. This post provides a brief overview of each type of claim, the special rules that govern it, and what you can do if ICBC denies your claim.
The first kind of ICBC claim is for damage done to your vehicle as a result of an accident. ICBC covers such vehicle damage only if:
After you file a vehicle damage claim, ICBC will make a determination of who caused the accident. If you were more than 25% at fault for the accident, then you generally need to pay a deductible and your insurance premiums may be affected.
If you disagree with ICBC’s determination of who was at fault for the accident, you can have your case reviewed by:
If ICBC is not paying a fair amount to repair or replace your vehicle, then it is important to gather evidence to show the true value of your vehicle. For example, autotrader magazines or “blue books” are useful in showing how much your vehicle is worth.
Unfortunately, you cannot start a lawsuit over the repair or replacement cost of your vehicle. You have to proceed to an arbitration, which is a less formal type of legal proceeding. It can be useful to talk to a lawyer to help you understand the arbitration process.
The second kind of ICBC claim is for Part 7 benefits. These benefits are available to almost everyone involved in an accident, even if the accident was their fault. Part 7 benefits help pay for your treatment and rehabilitation — such as physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic care — and a portion of your lost income if you are not able to work due to your injuries.
If ICBC refuses to pay for part of your treatment or your income loss, then make sure that you have provided them with a doctor’s note showing why you need more medical treatment or cannot work. If ICBC continues to deny a Part 7 expense, then the only way to reverse their decision is to start a formal lawsuit. It is best to consult a lawyer for help doing so.
The third kind of ICBC claim is a tort claim. Tort claims are only available to people who were not completely responsible for their accident. If the accident was partly your fault but also partly someone else’s fault, then you still have a tort claim.
A tort claim is a claim against the person who caused your accident, although ICBC will cover his or her legal fees and the amount of any judgment or settlement. Tort claims are pursued through out-of-court negotiations and, if those are unsuccessful, a formal lawsuit.
In a successful tort claim, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs and income loss not covered by your Part 7 claim; pain and suffering damages; loss of housekeeping damages; and out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries. Your tort claim is generally the largest and most important part of your ICBC claims.
ICBC will often offer settlements on tort claims that are far below what someone is actually entitled to in law. For example, they often offer people with whiplash injuries $15,000 or less to settle their case despite the fact that serious cases of whiplash can attract settlements of $80,000 or more in pain and suffering damages alone, let alone the damages for medical expenses and income loss.
It is important to speak with an ICBC lawyer – even if just during a free consultation – before settling your ICBC claims to make sure that you are being fairly compensated. Lawyers can often get you more compensation than you would be able to secure on your own in all types of ICBC claims, even after the lawyer’s fees are deducted.
The safest course of action for anyone injured in a car accident is to speak with a lawyer before ICBC makes a determination of who is at fault for your accident and before ICBC has assessed your case. Your lawyer is your advocate. He or she will make sure that ICBC has all important evidence and present legal arguments on your behalf to help ensure a fair result.
If ICBC has made an offer to settle one of your ICBC claims, or you would like a free consultation on what your ICBC claims may be worth, then call 1-800-JUSTICE today for a free consultation with a lawyer at Preszler Law.