Fundamental changes have arrived to the auto insurance system in B.C., starting April 1, 2019, in efforts to stem the tide of mounting losses at ICBC and rein in costs.
As of that date, anyone injured in a crash will have access to significantly improved benefits to support their care and recovery.
Also as of April 1, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) has expanded its services to help British Columbians who are injured in motor vehicle accidents to resolve injury claim disputes with ICBC and other insurers.
Amendments to the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation clarify the changes to ICBC benefits and processes that came into effect on April 1, 2019 for people who are injured in motor vehicle accidents.
In addition to increased limits in disability benefits, funeral expenses, and death benefits, people can also receive increased medical and rehabilitation benefits, even if their injuries were sustained before April 1, and they can also recover costs for necessary medication.
The amendments also establish a 60-day time limit for people to submit receipts for medical care or rehabilitation expenses to ICBC. Previously, people had up to two years to submit their expenses to ICBC.
The long limitation period made it difficult for ICBC to determine if expenses were reasonable and necessary at the time they were incurred. This left people at risk of spending significant amounts of money on expenses that could be found to beineligible for reimbursement.
The new limit gives people a reasonable amount of time to submit their receipts while ensuring ICBC receives the information it needs to accurately assess the severity of claims, provide additional supports to injured people as needed, and better forecast future costs.
Exceptions may be allowed in cases where people cannot meet the deadline due to the nature of their injuries or other factors.
These amendments to ICBC’s Accident Benefits are estimated to be a net increase of approximately $200 million annually. However, these expenses will be offset by the savings from all the new changes, which are estimated at more than $1 billion annually after full implementation.
To allow more money for care and treatment, effective April 1 there is also a limit of $5,500 on pain and suffering payouts for injuries that fall under the minor injury definition, and a new independent dispute resolution process to help settle injury claims.
Customers with concerns about ICBC’s determination of their injury as minor will have a new, independent dispute resolution option through the Civil Resolution Tribunal, which will now resolve motor vehicle accident injury claim disputes valued at $50,000 or less.
For ICBC disputes, the CRT will also help determine—based on evidence from both parties—whether an injury is “minor” according to legislation, entitlement to accident benefits, and responsibility for the crash.
The CRT helps parties reach an agreement when possible. Where parties can’t agree, the CRT can make binding decisions that are enforceable as court orders.