What Coverage Does ICBC Provide?
Third party Legal Liability Coverage (compulsory)
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) is the compulsory insurer in B.C. for third party legal liability coverage up to minimum limits of $200,000. That means that every motorist in B.C. must purchase at least the first $200,000 of coverage from ICBC. Many motorists carry higher limits (2 million is not uncommon), and motorists may purchase this extra coverage from ICBC or a private insurer. Third party legal liability coverage is simply the coverage motorists buy to protect them against claims from other people.
ICBC also provides coverage to victims of accidents as a result of the fault of a motorist who is uninsured or a hit and run motorist.
First Party Coverage (Optional)
This is coverage that you purchase yourself for your own protection or the protection of your automobile. This is typically coverage on your own automobile for accidents or incidents where there is no one else at fault. Broadly speaking, this is collision, comprehensive or specified perils coverage for such situations as single vehicle accidents, theft, vandalism, loss of use coverage, windshield damage, etc. A decision to purchase this coverage is a personal one. You can also purchase much of this type of coverage from a private insurer. A deductible (your portion of the claim) may apply. You should ask your insurance agent at the time of purchasing coverage for all details of first party coverage available.
Accidental Benefits or No Fault Coverage (Compulsory)
This coverage is compulsory and forms part of your premium dollar when you purchase ICBC third party legal liability coverage. You may also have this coverage if you hold a valid BC drivers license.
This coverage provides payment for you or your passengers of reasonable medical and rehabilitation expenses, some income replacement (known as total disability), funeral expenses and death benefits depending on the circumstances of the deceased at the time of the accident. This type of coverage can also apply to victims of accidents who are cyclists or pedestrians.
This coverage has many rules and regulations that apply. For example, the maximum amount payable for total disability is $300 a week. You may also have to apply for unemployment insurance sick benefits which reduces ICBC’s responsibility. You should ask your injury lawyer for all details of this coverage in the event of a accident claim.
Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP)(Compulsory)
This portion of the basic coverage provides protection (up to a maximum of $1 million for each insured person) against bodily injury or death, in an accident caused by a motorist who does not carry sufficient insurance to pay for claims.
Summary of the Four Areas of Coverage
In summary the four broad areas of coverage provided by ICBC are:
- Third Party Legal Liability to protect you against claims from others;
- First Party Coverage to protect you or your automobile for physical damage;
- Accident Benefits or No Fault (compulsory) to provide you coverage for medical, rehabilitation, funeral expenses and perhaps income replacement;
- Underinsured Motorist Protection (compulsory) to provide additional coverage for you or your passengers if the motorist involved does not have enough coverage.
There are restrictions on all of the above coverages. There are also other coverages that exist through ICBC that may come into play in more unusual circumstances. Again, individual circumstances may dictate restrictions and involvement of other coverages. Ask your personal injury lawyer for details and an explanation.
Who handles your claim with ICBC?
Claims adjusters may be either employed by ICBC or independent adjusters hired by ICBC. Their level of experience and knowledge varies. Although they have a duty to explain all available coverages to you, you have to remember that they are working for ICBC. They generally are much more knowledgeable than you and may or may not share this knowledge with you. You can bridge this gap by hiring an injury lawyer who is equally or more knowledgeable than the ICBC adjuster. The ICBC adjuster has a built-in conflict of interest. On the one hand, he or she is charged with the responsibility of fairly handling your first party claim. At the same time he or she is protecting the rights (and dollars) of the other driver who is potentially responsible in law for your accident injuries. The claims adjuster knows that should you hire a personal injury lawyer, he or she will probably pay out more money than if you did not. The decision is yours.
When do I have to make a decision about hiring a personal injury lawyer or dealing with ICBC’s adjusters?
All motor vehicle accident claims have time limits. The general rule is if your claim is not initiated within two years of the accident, your claim is statute barred unless you start legal action before that two year period. First party coverage has stricter and shorter time limits. In some circumstances, such as claims against municipalities, there can be very short limitation periods. Ask a lawyer immediately after an accident what limitation periods may apply to your injury claim. If you miss a limitation period you probably will be prevented from pursuing an injury claim.
Make sure you find out from the adjuster or your injury lawyer if you have complied with all the limits and documentary requirements. For example, when you are claiming against a hit-and-run motorist, there is an ICBC requirement that the accident be reported to the police in the first 48 hours and you must give ICBC under this coverage notice of claim within six months of the accident. Worried about legal fees – read the Worried about Legal Fees page.
Where are ICBC adjusters located?
There are ICBC claims offices in Kamloops and all over the Province of B.C. There are independent claims adjusters in most of these areas as well. ICBC has a “major loss claims” department in their head office in Vancouver. Your claim may be controlled from there depending upon the severity and complexity of the case. You may be dealing with a local adjuster, but he or she may not be making the decision on your ICBC claim.
How do the ICBC adjusters decide the value of your ICBC claim?
ICBC adjusters decide the value of your ICBC claim on the facts from their perspective. The proposed settlement may be fair in their minds, but perhaps not in your mind or the mind of your injury lawyer. The ICBC adjuster will generally have different evaluations of your case. That is, they will have a cost if they are successful in dissuading you from hiring a lawyer and they will have a separate amount of what it might cost ICBC if you retain the professional advice of a personal injury lawyer.
Why is there a difference in the size of my injury claim dealing directly with ICBC as opposed to retaining an accident lawyer?
There is a difference between dealing directly with ICBC on an injury claim and having an injury lawyer dealing with ICBC on your behalf. Usually a higher amount is paid out by ICBC if there is a lawyer representing the accident victim. The reason is simple. The ICBC adjuster must deal with an injury lawyer skilled in these types of injury claims and therefore someone who has substantial knowledge and experience in determining if the proposed settlement is fair.
Why should I hire the MacIsaac Group to act on my behalf?
There are now law firms comprising the MacIsaac Group located on Vancouver Island, in the Interior and North East of British Columbia, and in Central Alberta. The lawyers of the MacIsaac Group practice throughout the province and are well known for representing the injured public. The MacIsaac Group injury lawyers use a team approach in pursuing the personal injury claims of their clients. This means that in addition to the lawyer who will act for you on your claim, he or she will have available the services of other lawyers in the firm as well as the services of specialized investigators and consultants who also have extensive experience in ICBC claims. The team approach is a feature which is highly successful in obtaining full compensation for the personal injury client.