Can I trust ICBC to do the right thing?
Yes, you can trust ICBC to do the right thing, but it is important to understand that ICBC is an insurance company and the right thing for an insurance company to do is to make all available arguments to minimize the amount it pays out on claims.
Cases such as Jacobs v. ICBC, 2000 BCSC 1267 clearly demonstrate the profit maximizing goal of ICBC. In that case the claimant, Corinna Jacobs, was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident when the bicycle she was riding collided with a motor vehicle. At the time Corinna was an eleven-year-old foster child who had been apprehended under the Family and Child Services Act after a court order was made that she was in need of protection from her biological parents. In the accident Corina suffered a depressed skull fracture and brain injury, two fractures of the right wrist, an undisplaced fracture of the right femur and a fracture of the right tibia. ICBC took the position that Corinna was not entitled to insurance coverage as she did not qualify as an “insured” because she was not a member of the household of her foster mother who was an insured. The court disagreed and held that Corina was a member of her foster mother’s household, but the point that is important for the present discussion is that this case clearly demonstrates that ICBC is an insurance company, not a charity organization, and it will make all available arguments to minimize the compensation payable to accident victims, even 11 year old foster children with brain injuries.
It may well be unfair to fault ICBC for taking positions such as it did in the case of Corinna Jacobs. Arguably, ICBC is given a statutory mandate to only pay benefits where they are due according to the wording of the legislation and ICBC should make all available arguments to minimize insurance premiums for all British Columbians. Indeed, many insurance premium paying motorists would complain if ICBC took an overly sympathetic approach with too many accident claimants and started paying out benefits where they were arguably not due. Therefore, rather than faulting ICBC for being “unsympathetic”, claimants should appreciate that ICBC is an insurance company and should deal with them as such. In many cases this will mean hiring a lawyer and dealing with ICBC on its own terms by having your lawyer make all viable arguments to maximize your recovery while ICBC makes all available arguments to minimize your recovery. The game is the game, play within the rules, and speak to your elected official if you think the rules should be changed.
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