Reading lawyer Mathew Nathanson’s recent opinion editorial on ICBC’s move to Enhanced Care Coverage, you might be thinking people injured in car crashes will be worse off than they are today. But the truth is you’d be wrong, very wrong.
Recognizing that insurance premiums are too high, our government is taking action to bring rates down. Under this new model, drivers will see savings on average, of 20 percent or approximately $400. We are able to do this by removing the expensive lawyer and legal fees from the system to focus on caring for those who have been injured in a car crash.
Under Enhanced Care coverage, if you’re hurt in a crash you will have access to significantly better care and recovery benefits than you do today—in fact, 24 times more care. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist, you will be eligible for up to a maximum of least $7.5 million in care and recovery benefits.
On top of that, if you miss work or school, you’ll be able to access wage loss payments that are 60 percent higher than what you could get today. If you’re catastrophically hurt, there’s a new permanent impairment benefit that could provide you with a lump sum cash payment of up to $250,000.
Importantly, under Enhanced Care, your doctor will be in charge of your treatment plan—not ICBC—and all of these benefits will be available for as long as you need them without having to go to court. This is why we have doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and other health-care providers in support of the new model.
With the insurance model we have today, huge sums of money go toward legal costs, and into the pockets of lawyers, instead of going to people hurt in car crashes. These costs increase every year, and it’s gotten to the point where the insurance system in British Columbia is no longer sustainable. Something has to change—we can’t keep asking British Columbians to pour money into the courts through higher and higher insurance premiums.
Under today’s system, ICBC is put into a position where it is wearing two different hats—one to care for the injured, the other to defend the driver who is at-fault. This creates an adversarial environment wrapped up in a legal dispute, instead of focusing on caring for those who have been injured in the crash.
With the new model, ICBC no longer needs to balance between helping you get better and preparing a defence for the driver at-fault. It no longer needs to fight those injured in a crash on behalf of the at-fault party, allowing the insurance corporation to focus on getting people the care they need.
By moving to Enhanced Care in May 2021, drivers will see their insurance premiums decrease by 20 percent. With soaring legal costs brought down to reasonable levels, we’ll also be able to keep insurance rates stable in the years ahead. This is a proven model—it’s been working in Manitoba and Saskatchewan for decades.
Mr. Nathanson mistakenly believes people who have disputes with their claim when we move Enhanced Care will have nowhere to turn. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal has been helping people successfully resolve disputes with ICBC since April of last year. Contrary to what Mr. Nathanson wrote, it is completely independent from ICBC. The tribunal is part of the public justice system and is required to apply the law and make enforceable decisions. And, if someone with a dispute doesn’t agree with a CRT decision, the B.C. Supreme Court can be asked for a judicial review. Also, the independent Office of the Ombudsperson continues to help resolve issues related to ICBC.
In addition to the CRT and the Office of the Ombudsperson, our government is setting up a new Fairness Office that will be independent from ICBC’s claims division. It will review and make recommendations to ICBC to resolve individual customer complaints and report out publicly on the type of and number of issues it has heard, along with its resolutions.
ICBC will be required by law to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and ensure that every person is informed about and receives all of the benefits to which they are entitled.
I encourage everyone to learn the facts about Enhanced Care by visiting ICBC’s website: www.icbc.com/2021.