Fundamental changes in BC’s auto insurance system starts April 1

David Eby

‘The previous government took money out of ICBC, instead of fixing ICBC’ – Eby

 

David Eby

STARTING April 1, anyone injured in a crash will have access to significantly improved benefits to support their care and recovery, says ICBC.

In addition to the doubling of overall accident benefits to $300,000, that came into effect January 2018, those injured in a crash will see even more improvements beginning April 1 which will make ICBC’s accident benefits the most generous amongst those in other tort-based systems across Canada.

The additional improvements to accident benefits will come into effect for any new claims made on or after April 1, 2019:

  • A new benefit of $1,000 for necessary medical supplies and services, which were previously not covered, such as naturopathic treatments, compressions stockings or therapy equipment.

  • $740 a week to supplement lost income for customers injured and unable to work – a 147-per-cent increase.

  • $280 a week for support around the house, such as cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping – a 93-per-cent increase.

  • $7,500 to help with funeral costs – a 200-per-cent increase.

  • Up to $30,000 in death benefits, to be paid to surviving family members – a 67-per-cent increase.

ICBC will also pay more for treatments and cover more types of treatments for both new and existing claims starting April 1, 2019 – including acupuncture, chiropractic care, clinical counselling, psychology, kinesiology, registered massage therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

These improvements 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 changes, estimated at more than $1 billion annually after full implementation.

To allow more money for care and treatment, effective April 1, there will also be 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.

ICBC says B.C.’s minor injury definition is clear, comprehensive and fair. It balances increased care and fiscal responsibility. Regardless of who is responsible for the crash or the severity of the injury, those injured in a crash will have access to the significantly improved benefits put in place to support their recovery process.

A medical practitioner – not ICBC – will diagnose a customer’s injuries and ICBC will use this to assess whether the injury falls under the minor injury definition found in the legislation and regulations amended last year. 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, starting April 1.

ICBC says changes are necessary to close the gap between the premiums being collected from customers and the cost of the claims paid out each year. ICBC is projected to suffer another significant net loss this fiscal year. The B.C. government and ICBC will continue to look for ways to make improvements for the benefit of all British Columbians.

Attorney General David Eby said on Tuesday: “Today’s changes are coming at least five years too late. Because the previous government took money out of ICBC, instead of fixing ICBC, taxpayers have now covered in excess of three billion in losses at ICBC to date.

“While more is yet to come, April 1 marks the first day of real change for B.C. taxpayers who have been covering the costs of the previous government’s ICBC negligence.

“These generational changes have involved historic levels of work both inside and outside ICBC to achieve, and I am grateful to everyone involved in this important work. We will be monitoring these changes carefully to ensure ICBC can deliver affordable, high quality car insurance to British Columbians.”

Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO of ICBC, added: “The changes mean the value of basic insurance coverage has significantly increased – providing more treatment and support if you’re injured in a crash. This is a monumental change and one that will help make sure B.C. has a car insurance system that works for all British Columbians, today and in the future.”

 

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