Drivers in British Columbia are well-aware of the fact they live in a province where ICBC holds a monopoly over automotive insurance. What may not be so apparent however, is what that can mean in a motor vehicle injury claim.
If someone is injured in a car accident and found not to be at fault, s/he has two ICBC claims:
- The “Part 7”, or “No- fault” Benefits claim; payable no matter whose fault the accident was, and intended to cover or contribute to medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, wage loss, and loss of homemaking ability.
- The Tort Claim; intended as compensation for pain, injury, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
“Great” you may say. “The accident wasn’t my fault. ICBC is my insurance company, and it will look out for me, right”?
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.
In the Part 7 claim, you are seeking payment under your insurance policy and the ICBC adjuster has the job of facilitating treatment and covering your applicable expenses, costs, and losses.
In the Tort Claim however, you are seeking damages under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In this claim, ICBC no longer represents you, and must defend the at-fault driver.
The once friendly and sympathetic adjuster who helped you under your Part 7 claim now has the job of ensuring that ICBC pays you as little as possible. S/he is now working against you, and will use anything you have told ICBC to minimize payment for your injuries.
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—not for you. Despite the fact ICBC is your insurer, the adjuster’s job is to minimize payouts to you.
- ICBC’s adjusters and managers have received 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 typically grow when injuries do not resolve quickly.
- 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 just may have other interests in mind than your own—something that shouldn’t take you by surprise now that you are aware of the Great Conflict Conundrum…
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.