Major changes are underway for British Columbia auto insurance with a new no-fault system set to take effect on May 1, 2021. The new insurance model, called enhanced care, is supposed to reduce insurance rates by 20 percent, which averages out to $400 per driver annually. But there are many flaws in the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s (ICBC) no-fault plan. People who are injured by reckless drivers will not be able to take the legal action necessary to be compensated fairly for their losses and ICBC will have full control and decision-making authority over the process.
What Is No-Fault Insurance in Vancouver?
No-fault auto insurance means that the ICBC policyholders will receive benefits for their injuries and wage loss after a crash, regardless of who was at fault. Under enhanced care, victims will not be able to sue the at-fault driver, except in cases where the driver is convicted of a particular Criminal Code offense, like driving while intoxicated. Instead, claimants who have disputes about their payments will have to go through the recently established Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), an ombudsperson, or an ICBC fairness officer to have their complaints heard.
This plan puts injured people at a distinct disadvantage. If no one is “at fault” for an accident, then the negligent driver has no consequences for his or her bad decisions except for an increase in his/her premiums. In addition, most car accidents are not due to criminal conduct, leaving accident victims very few options for a fair recovery.
In a statement, the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia note that the shift to no-fault insurance is “a deliberate taking away of the right of British Columbians to receive fair access to the courts and a fair settlement to those injured on our roads.” At Warnett Hallen LLP, we agree with this opinion.
What Is Covered Under No-Fault Insurance?
According to ICBC, enhanced care means better care and coverage after a car accident. For example, consumers will now have access to a maximum of $7.5 million in medical and rehabilitation compensation versus the current $300,000. This, according to ICBC, will better serve accident victims over the course of their lifetimes. Payments for lost wages due to a car accident will increase to $1,200 a week from $740.
However, the majority of payments for pain and suffering and non-tangible damages, like lost enjoyment of life, will not be part of enhanced care. British Columbians already experienced a drastic drop in awards for pain and suffering last year, when ICBC capped them and limited them for those with “major injuries.” Now, the tables are being turned on consumers again, further restricting how much they will be able to get when they need it most.
To receive ICBC no-fault insurance benefits, you must be either be:
- An owner of an ICBC-insured vehicle
- Anyone in the vehicle owner’s household
- A British Columbia resident who has been properly issued a valid driver’s license and members of that individual’s household
- Any vehicle occupant who is licensed in B.C.
- Any vehicle occupant not required to be licensed in B.C. but driven by a person with a valid B.C. license
- A pedestrian or cyclist who crashes with an ICBC-insured vehicle
- A B.C. resident who is entitled to bring an action due to a hit-and-run or accident with an underinsured motorist
Why is ICBC Making This Reform?
The government shift to no-fault insurance is an effort to move away from a litigation-based insurance model. ICBC estimates that the changes will save $1.5 billion in legal fees, allowing that money to be put toward rate cuts, more benefits, and faster claims processing.
However, the shift also means that accident victims will only receive what ICBC thinks they are entitled to rather than what they might actually deserve.
Contact a British Columbia Car Accident Lawyer
During this time of unprecedented change, you need a car accident lawyer who understands the ICBC system and can help you navigate it. Put the Vancouver car accident lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP to work for you. We have decades of experience going up against ICBC when accident victims are denied full and fair settlements. We’ll be with you every step of the way, both now and in the future.
Call or contact us now for a free consultation.