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Starting Monday, most ICBC claim disputes to be resolved online instead of in court

Last Updated Mar 29, 2019 at 3:34 pm PDT

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Anyone hurt in a crash on or after April 1 can process their claim online instead of fighting in court for months

Eby is expecting a legal challenge from the Trial Lawyers Association of BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you’re hurt in a crash, you will no longer have to wait up to two years to settle your claim — but there’s a $50,000 limit. That’s the latest on changes happening Monday, aimed at saving ICBC $1 billion a year.

Attorney General David Eby — who’s still trying to douse what he’s been calling a “financial dumpster fire” — says anyone hurt on or after April 1, 2019 can process their claim online, instead of fighting it out for months in court.

“The value of the claim is $50,000 or less. So, 80 per cent of the claims that are currently going to BC Supreme Court will be going to the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is a very significant piece and a very significant change,” Eby said.

“If you have an accident and the amount under dispute is $50,000 or less or your injury is classified as a minor injury because it’s a strain or a sprain — you haven’t broken a bone — then this is the way that disputes are resolved, from April 1st forward.”

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Eby says any crashes recorded before Monday will still be processed under the current system. “If you get in a collision at 11:59 p.m. on the last day of this month, you will still be in the BC Supreme Court process, under the old system.”

The basic charge for using this online method is $135. That fee could be waived if you can prove you can’t afford to pay it.

Eby is already expecting a legal challenge from the Trial Lawyers Association of BC. “[The association has] already been clear that they have retained counsel for the purposes of challenging this regime because they believe that you can only resolve disputes appropriately through BC Supreme Court. We don’t, obviously, agree with their interpretation of the law.”

He insists this streamlined process won’t just benefit ICBC customers. “There are people in B.C. who have optional insurance coverage that they buy through private insurance companies. It doesn’t draw a distinction between whether or not your insurer is a private insurer or whether it’s ICBC.”

Eby adds this process is gradual enough that it shouldn’t cause any system overloads.

“ICBC … for the last three fiscal periods, has lost about $1 billion — give or take,” Eby said. “We are told and we expect that this measure, combined with the limit on pain and suffering awards for minor injuries, will save $1 billion a year. This goes a very long way to addressing that gap at ICBC between the premiums they collect and the cost of injuries and resolving disputes.”

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But he admits it’s not the whole solution. “We have major changes coming in in September that make people more accountable for the decisions they make when they’re driving. If they’re driving while impaired, excessive speeding, distracted driving, causing at-fault collisions — you’re going to see significant increases in their insurance rates. If they are low-risk drivers with good records, they’re going to see significant decreases in their insurance.”