Citing a “serious problem” facing the car insurance industry, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) made sweeping changes to its auto accident policies earlier this year.
ICBC states that these changes were necessary because B.C. crashes, injury claims and repair costs had reached an all-time high. But the new policies may be leaving drivers wondering what’s going to happen to their claims if they’re hurt in a car accident.
To learn more about these changes, please view our comprehensive guide on the most notable ICBC changes of 2019.
Changes in ICBC Insurance
ICBC has made several changes that will affect how claims will be handled throughout the province.
One of the changes is a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering compensation for accident victims who are judged to have “minor injuries.” This includes injuries like sprains, strains, cuts and whiplash.
At first glance, the minor-injuries rule might seem to have some logic to it. However, concussions also fall into this category — a concerning fact considering they are still considered traumatic brain injuries that can have far-reaching consequences.
Another change expanded the role of B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The tribunal, which was established in 2012 to resolve small claims, will now hear certain motor vehicle claims as well. The tribunal can decide which claims are minor or not. It also can decide accident cases with values up to $50,000.
Claimants have the right to have an attorney represent them before the tribunal. They are also entitled to appeal to the B.C. Supreme Court if they disagree with the CRT’s decision.
The ICBC changes went into effect on April 1, 2019. Any accidents that occurred before that date will not be subject to the cap. Also, the cap will not affect reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages and other “economic losses” suffered in an automobile accident.
Who Benefits From The ICBC Changes?
There’s no question that the ICBC changes will have a significant impact on car accident claims. It begs the question of who really benefits from the new policies — and the answer is ICBC, not you.
The minor injuries classification system is particularly concerning. Many injuries that fall into that category can result in serious complications and long-term medical problems. For example, a soft-tissue injury to ligaments may not sound serious, but it can destabilize joints around the spine and lead to vertebral ruptures and degenerative joint disease.
In addition, the $5,500 cap on pain and suffering diminishes a victim’s ability to collect full and fair compensation for their emotional distress and other “noneconomic” losses that accompany a crash. Rather than punishing the negligent driver, the cap penalizes the accident victim instead.
Here’s what you need to know during this transitional period: Warnett Hallen LLP will continue its tradition of providing strong, competent legal representation to car accident victims. We won’t be intimidated by a new system that makes it more difficult for claimants to get the compensation they deserve. We’ll just fight harder.
Contact our ICBC lawyers online or by phone to arrange a free consultation today.