What ICBC’s New Enhanced Care Coverage Means for You

Under ICBC’s new Enhanced Care coverage, you will only be able to make a personal injury claim in very limited circumstances. However, you can still retain a lawyer and get legal advice, should you want to.

What is ICBC’s new Enhanced Care coverage?

On May 1 2021, ICBC’s new Enhanced Care coverage came into force. It is the most significant change to auto insurance the province has seen for 40 years, and has far-reaching implications for victims of motor vehicle accidents.

So, what’s changed?

In short, ICBC has moved to what it describes as a ‘care-based insurance model’. The corporation says this will make insurance premiums much more affordable, with policy-holders expected to save 20% on average. ICBC intends to achieve this by all but eliminating legal fees.

To understand just how different this is from the previous model, you need to understand how ICBC claims worked in the past.

How it worked before May 1 2021

Until now, anyone who was injured in a motor vehicle accident was entitled to claim ICBC Part 7 benefits. This entitled you to up to $740 in wage loss payments, up to $300,000 in care and recovery benefits, along with other payments – all of which were capped at a set limit.

The innocent party was also entitled to make a personal injury claim, which in legal jargon is called a tort claim. This allowed them to claim for additional damages, over and above what was awarded under Part 7 benefits. This ensured they could recover all of their lost expenses. They were also awarded compensation for their pain and suffering.

How it works after May 1 2021

This system has been completely overhauled.

The good thing is that you can still claim benefits, regardless of who was at fault. The major difference is that there is no cap on care and recovery benefits. ICBC says that care will be provided for as long as you need it. You can also claim up to 90% of your net income in wage loss benefits, up to $100,000 per year. High earners have the option to purchase additional insurance, while students, the unemployed and retirees are also entitled to new benefits.

However, the downside is that you are now unable to make a personal injury claim, unless the driver responsible for your accident is convicted of certain Criminal Code offences. For example, if you are hit by a driver who was over the legal drink-drive limit, you can sue him/her and obtain greater damages. Otherwise, it’s up to ICBC to decide how much you get.
Unless you can afford a lawyer, you’ll have to present your case to ICBC yourself. You aren’t automatically entitled to a representative or an advocate. This makes for a very uneven playing field, as ICBC is a giant corporation with its own legal team.

Furthermore, the new system penalises those who are not at fault for motor vehicle accidents, causing them to be left out of pocket. This is because you will not be entitled to recover 100% of your losses, as you would with a tort claim. Nor will you be awarded compensation for your pain and suffering.

What if you dispute your claim?

Critics have expressed concerns about the new care-based system. Opponents say it takes away people’s legal rights and forces them to seek benefits from ICBC – a corporation which is known for cost-cutting measures. ICBC has addressed these fears, with their website stating that:

“Under Enhanced Care, ICBC will be required, by law, to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and endeavour to ensure that every person is informed about, and receives, all the benefits to which they are entitled.”

Even so, there is no escaping the fact that ICBC is a provincial insurer and not an independent third party. If you dispute your claim, then you can make an appeal to the Fairness Officer, which has the authority to review ICBC’s decision and make recommendations. You can also take your case to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) or the B.C. Ombudsperson.

Can I speak to a lawyer?

Furthermore, there is nothing from stopping you seeking advice from a lawyer. Although you can only pursue a claim in limited circumstances, you can still contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and get a professional opinion. And of course, if you have been injured by someone who committed an illegal offence, you could be entitled to sue the driver at fault.

Vancouver personal injury lawyers

The new rules have changed the landscape of ICBC claims. Despite this, our Vancouver personal injury lawyers are still here to help you. If you would like to talk to a lawyer about your accident, please contact us at John Mickelson Law Corporation.

Either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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