Six Answers To This Vitally Important Question
In 1974, the government created ICBC – the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia – to make sure every driver in the province is protected by basic auto insurance. This not only protected the driver, it also protected passengers and the public. If anyone was injured in an accident, they could make a claim to ICBC to have medical expenses, loss of income and other financial impacts covered. Before ICBC, injured people could be holding the bag for all their expenses and losses if the driver at fault had no insurance. At DBM, we believe that basic universal coverage is a good thing.
But over the years, the nature of ICBC has changed. What started as a program to serve the needs of the people of BC has become, to many observers, a program that tends to focus on the needs of the corporation.
This is especially true in how claims are now handled. The current process can be cumbersome and confusing. Here are 6 reasons why DBM maintains that the program, 43 years later, must be updated.
- Benefits and “no-fault” coverage are far too low. For example, an employed person who is disabled through an accident can only get up to $15,600 per year for a maximum of two years. That doesn’t come close to replacing lost income for most people. In fact, it is close to welfare rates.
- Injured people may not get fully reimbursed for medical treatment until a final settlement is reached, sometimes years later. That is a wait that many families can’t afford.
- Universal, no-fault death and funeral benefits are not enough. The maximum amount was set well over 10 years ago and hasn’t changed or been adjusted for inflation. Costs have risen while the benefits haven’t.
- ICBC used to use mediation to help settle claims, and it worked well for the corporation and for British Columbians. But in 2008, ICBC walked away from that process and started taking a tougher line on claims. This has meant more claims going to trial.
- Trials are expensive. ICBC settlements and costs have risen by as much as 45% as a result of ICBC’s change in its claims philosophy and processes. From DBM’s experience, it’s pretty clear that these expensive and time-consuming trials aren’t in anyone’s best interests, especially yours.
- ICBC also lost a large number of senior claims staff. Claims are now assessed by committee, without an individual senior evaluator taking direct responsibility for decisions. In DBM’s experience, committees don’t always pay as much attention to counsel’s recommendations as we would wish.
The personal injury lawyers at DBM firmly hold to the idea that, with or without legal representation, claims can be more effectively, and more fairly settled, outside a trial situation.
At DBM, we support the ICBC’s mandate to make sure everyone on the road is insured, but we also believe that the corporation should work hard for the benefit of injured British Columbians so they can move forward after the trauma and recovery of being in an accident
If you have been in an accident, you might want to call a personal injury lawyer to help you get through ICBC’s claims process to make sure you receive the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. Hopefully, without going to trial.