B.C. drivers are well-aware that ICBC holds a monopoly over auto insurance. What may not be so apparent however, is what that can mean in a motor vehicle injury claim.
If you’re injured in a car accident and found not to be at fault, you have 2 ICBC claims:
- The “Part 7”, or “No- fault” Benefits. This is payable no matter who was at fault. It covers or contributes to medical and rehabilitation costs, wage and homemaking ability loss.
- The Tort claim. This compensates for pain, injury, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you may assume ICBC will fully look after you. Don’t be so sure.
Because of its monopoly, ICBC has dual roles under the Part 7 and Tort claims and operates under a legally authorized conflict of interest. How?
Under Part 7, ICBC must facilitate your treatment and cover your expenses, costs, and losses.
With the Tort claim, ICBC pays your damages under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Of course, the lesser paid out, the better. Conflict of interest? You bet.
Your once friendly ICBC adjuster, who helped and sympathized with you under your Part 7 claim, now has the job of ensuring that ICBC pays you as little as possible. Remember, your adjuster works for ICBC, not for you. It’s the adjuster’s job to keep claim costs down for the insurance company.
No matter what you think (or have been told) what your case is worth, before settling your Tort claim directly with ICBC, consider this:
- Your ICBC adjuster works for ICBC. As with all insurance companies, your adjuster’s job is to minimize all payouts.
- ICBC’s adjusters and managers receive bonuses for keeping claim payouts below certain thresholds.
- It is to ICBC’s advantage to get you to settle as quickly as possible. Claim values grow when injuries do not resolve quickly. It is also to ICBC’s advantage that you not hire a personal injury lawyer who understands the peril of settling too soon, and can assess what your claim is truly worth.
- Your adjuster has no obligation to advise you of your legal rights in your Tort claim against the at-fault motorist.
- If your symptoms persist, only a qualified lawyer will be able to adequately deal with complexities such as medical and vocational experts, loss of income, loss of future earning potential, and cost of future care.
- You wouldn’t buy anything without some information about its market value (house, car, stereo etc.). Why would you accept the value of your claim from someone whose job is to settle for the lowest possible amount?
Under ICBC’s system, having an adjuster purport to look after your interests is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. A conflict of interest—authorized by law or not—is still a conflict of interest.
If you are injured in an accident and decide to deal with ICBC yourself, keep in mind that when it comes time to settle your Tort claim, your friendly adjuster may just have other interests in mind.
You need someone truly on your side. Why settle for less?
Einfeld Law is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury law firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other negligence claims involving bodily injury. We have successfully litigated many ICBC and other insurance claims, including out of province, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other bodily injury claims. We have collected millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We never act for ICBC or other insurance companies.