The ICBC, or Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is British Columbia’s Crown auto insurance entity. It was originally a non-profit dedicated to providing affordable auto insurance, but it has switched to a for-profit status in more recent years. All vehicles registered and driven in British Columbia must be covered minimally by the ICBC’s basic auto insurance plan. Premiums are based the same way as any other insurance company, accounting for the client’s driving history, location, and vehicle. The vast majority of vehicles are covered, although “luxury models” worth $150,000 or more are no longer covered. Anyone who is involved in a car accident that involves property damage or personal injury is obligated to report the accident to the ICBC.
Filing a damage claim
The general practice is to file a vehicle damage claim as soon as possible after an accident that requires the ICBC’s attention. This is typically within a 24-48 hour window, unless circumstances prevent it. The process of reporting a claim is not particularly difficult. You’ll need some basic information beforehand including the plate numbers of all involved vehicles, the license numbers of all involved parties, and the insurance information for any vehicle(s) not covered by the ICBC. Additionally, if any vehicle is damaged beyond use, the location of the repair service it was sent to can speed claims along.
You’ll also need to specify the type of claim you are making. Vehicle damage claims can be made by a registered owner or operator of a vehicle. Collisions, glass damage, and emergency expenses are generally covered. You may also file a claim if you have witnessed an accident. This can be particularly important in criminal cases involving a hit and run or a theft.
Personal injury claims
Injury claims are a bit different than damage claims, though they follow a similar process initially. The claim is first reported by phone or online same as any other, but the differences start with speaking to an adjuster in detail about exactly what happened. This is also an opportunity to question the adjuster about next steps in the claim.
Of course, medical treatment is the biggest difference in a personal injury claim. Treatment should be sought as soon as possible after the accident. This is important for multiple reasons. Firstly, it gives your healthcare team the best chance to adequately treat your injuries, but it also helps prove that suffered injuries were due to the crash instead of outside sources. Regardless of who was at fault, the ICBC will cover medical treatments up to $300,000 dollars. There is a change coming to pain and suffering caps in April 2019, however. The maximum payout for this will be $5,500 after a crash. Previous payouts were often close to $16,000.
In some cases, especially those that could involve big payouts, it is a good idea to seek the help of an ICBC claims lawyer. This is partly because the ICBC is eager to settle claims quickly, which may result in less compensation than you deserve, and they will typically use any statements from a claimant against their claim when possible. It’s important to remember that you are not obligated to sign any written forms submitted to you by the ICBC, and having a lawyer’s assistance puts you in a much better position when speaking with an adjuster.
A lawyer will also be aware of any extra steps that may need to be taken in certain cases to ensure that a claim goes through properly. They will also be able to help with properly valuing your claim. For example, some accidents can cause injuries that don’t show symptoms until days later. If you quickly signed an ICBC statement, you’ll be barred from making a claim for these injuries if they manifest later. A lawyer can also be a great help in proving fault in an accident, as well as making sure all legal deadlines are met.
While the process of filing a claim is fairly simple, having a lawyer on hand will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve in complex cases.