What is ICBC?
Everyone who drives in British Columbia is required to have auto insurance through ICBC (the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). People can get other types of auto insurance coverage through private insurers, but everyone must purchase ICBC’s Basic Autoplan for minimum protection.
Here’s what it covers:
Basic Auto Plan
Helps you, passengers, and family members with medical costs, wage replacement and other losses stemming from a crash. (Limit: $300,000 in medical costs and $740 per week in lost income).
Covers you if the accident is your fault and someone brings a claim against you. (Limit: $200,000 for their injuries and vehicle damage).
Basic underinsured motorist protection (UMP):
If the person who hit you doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages, your UMP can kick in to cover the difference.
Up to $200,000.
Coverage for accidents in parts of Canada or the U.S. where you can’t make a claim against the at-fault party due to local laws prohibiting it.
ICBC Changes in 2019
The biggest and most important is the $5,500 cap
on pain and suffering for minor injuries.
A minor injury per B.C. law is a physical or mental injury (chronic or not) that:
- Does not result in a serious impairment or permanent serious disfigurement
- Is one of the following:
- An abrasion, contusion, laceration, sprain or strain
- A pain syndrome (not “incapacitating”)
- Psychological or psychiatric condition (not incapacitating)
- Concussion (not incapacitating or persists over 4 months)
- Whiplash associated injuries (“WAD” injuries) involving the neck, upper, shoulder, and mid and low back
- Prescribed injury or in a prescribed type or class of injury
An incapacity is a mental or physical incapacity that is not resolved within 16 weeks after the date the incapacity arises and is the primary cause of a substantial inability to perform:
- Essential tasks of their regular employment, occupation or activities of daily living despite their best efforts.
A serious impairment is a physical or mental impairment that is not resolved within 12 months from the date of the accident and:
- Results in substantial inability of the victim to work or participate in activities of daily life despite their best efforts to make accommodations
- Impairments are primarily caused by the accident and are persistent
- Not expected to improve much
A permanent serious disfigurement is permanent disfigurement that significantly detracts (as set out in the new rules) from a person’s physical appearance.
- It is not enough that a disfigurement detracts from a person’s appearance — it must “significantly detract.”
It appears that most of the above criteria must be met before the injury will be removed from the “minor injury” category.
Other ICBC Changes
(Effective April 2019)
Creation of a Civil
All disputes for ICBC settlements for up to $50,000 will be resolved through a Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT can make minor injury determinations, assess fault (for claims of up to $5,000) and decide what types of accident benefits victims are entitled to. Again, awards for pain and suffering for minor injuries are capped at $5,500. The remainder of claims will go to small claims court or the B.C. Supreme Court for resolution. Any accidents that occurred before April 1 will still go to the other courts.
One Unexpected Accident Could Change Your Life
If you haven’t been in a car accident in British Columbia, consider yourself lucky. ICBC data shows that crashes have spiked throughout the province, rising from 260,000 to 350,000 during a recent five-year period.
Thankfully, most crashes are fender-benders and everyone walks away safely. But it only takes one accident to throw a family’s entire life into financial upheaval.
A car accident can result in:
Take a Quick Quiz
1.) How do you feel about the new cap changes?
- Extremely poor
- Extremely well
2.) Do you feel confident you could financially handle medical expenses in the event caps did not cover your expenses?
- Definitely not
- Definitely could
3.) If you have ever been in an accident, did the cost to you exceed the current $5,500 pain and suffering cap?