ICBC hit with $900M proposed class action lawsuit

Court filing alleges B.C. drivers have been over-charged for insurance, accident victims under-compensated

Eric Rankin · CBC News ·

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in B.C. Supreme court which, if successful, could mean every provincially-insured driver and injured crash victim in British Columbia will be in line for a share of almost $1 billion.

The civil action, launched against the B.C. government and the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC), packs a one-two punch.

It alleges a secret agreement has allowed the B.C. government to skim hundreds of millions of dollars from ICBC to pay doctors’ fees for injury victims — instead of billing the province’s taxpayer-funded Medical Services Plan.

And the lawsuit claims the claw-back by the province of up to $60 million a year from ICBC has driven-up the public insurer’s annual operating costs — contributing to rising driver insurance premiums and lower injury pay-outs to crash victims.

The accusations come after revelations the previous B.C. Liberal government raided the insurance corporation’s surpluses to fill provincial coffers— something Attorney General David Eby has promised to end, declaring the practice “treated ICBC like an ATM.”

The proposed class action claims the newly revealed medical drain on the Insurance Corporation also “raided ICBC’s budget”— taking medical fees from the insurance corporation, which passed the cost to drivers and injury victims.

It alleges the “unlawful scheme” has been used by every provincial government since the creation of the public insurer in 1973 — including Eby’s NDP.

The action seeks to recover an estimated $899,724,536, plus damages and interest.

‘You can’t trust them’: Brayden Methot

The lawsuit has been filed by the prominent Murphy Battista law firm on behalf of two types of plaintiffs: the “ratepayer class,” representing all insured drivers, and the “accident class,” representing injury victims.

Brayden Methot, 29, is the lead plaintiff for those severely hurt in crashes.

He says the civil action sends a message to the provincial government and the public auto insurer.

“Thanks for ripping me off,” he says.

Methot was rendered a quadriplegic in a roll-over crash near Kamloops in 2014 and has struggled to survive on the $1,300 a month he receives in benefits.

He lives in Williams Lake with his parents.

Methot was awarded $160,000 for his injuries, but believes doctors fees were deducted.

The lawsuit alleges “ICBC wrongfully represented to [accident victims] they had reached the limit of their accident benefits, when they had not.”

“I thought you could trust ICBC to look after these things while I [was] in the hospital,” says Methot. “I’m already overwhelmed with the injury. And knowing that they take advantage of somebody that’s in my situation … you can’t trust them for sure.”

‘I want my money back’: Bob Rorison

Bob Rorison, 70, is the second lead plaintiff, and represents all B.C. motorists who have paid compulsory auto insurance through ICBC.

“I want my money back,” says Rorison. “And everybody in British Columbia deserves their money back if they purchased insurance from ICBC.”

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Seniors, disabled will be impacted as insurance crisis takes up to 1000 taxis off the road

Seniors, disabled will be impacted as insurance crisis takes up to 1000 taxis off the road

Senior citizens and others who rely upon Accessible taxis are at risk of losing this service as Ontario’s taxi industry is facing a crisis in insurance coverage.

“The number of taxi cabs which are being parked and taken completely out of service is horrendous,” says Marc Andre Way, President of the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA).

“In Hamilton alone, City Council members have been notified by licensing staff that 25 per cent of licensed taxis are now parked because they cannot obtain insurance. Communities across Ontario are facing dire circumstances on account of this insurance crisis.”

Toronto’s Licensing division reports that already 719 licenses have been returned to them. The number of “parked” cabs could climb to as many as 1,000 or more in the weeks ahead as insurance renewals are denied.

This crisis means that riders who require Accessible Taxis for medical appointments and other travel may soon be unable to receive on-demand Accessible taxi service; even standard, non-Accessible taxis may be unavailable.

The CTA, working with Philomena Comerford of Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers who are experts in the taxi insurance field, have proposed at least a partial solution to this crisis: they are asking Ontario to amend Regulation 664 to allow Loss Transfer for taxis as is allowed for other vehicles.

“Amending Regulation 664 will not cost the province any money and does not require legislation, it is a simple regulation change which will encourage insurers to stay in the taxi market,” says Way.

“We suggested this idea during Ontario’s Pre-Budget consultations, although in fact, the change could be made at any time. We hope Ontario will consider amending Regulation 664 as at least a partial solution to the taxi industry insurance crisis before it begins to have a serious negative impact on senior citizens and those who require accessible taxis.”

The CTA works with its members across Canada to:

  • improve service standards by sharing information with each other including best practices from proven operators in certain aspects of their business model.
  • introduce new technology or new services to make their businesses more competitive.
  • provide access to suppliers that can reduce operating costs.
  • deliver consistent customer service across the nation regardless of city or locale.

SOURCE Canadian Taxi Association

Related Links

www.cantaxi.ca/

ICBC profits should not be used to cover other government costs

VICTORIA _ British Columbia’s New Democrat government is planning to table legislation this week to prevent governments from diverting surplus funds from the province’s public auto insurer to cover other government expenses.

Attorney General David Eby said Monday the legislation would ensure future surpluses remain with the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. Surpluses from the Crown corporation’s optional capital funds should be used to enhance programs that offset premium costs for drivers, he said.

Eby said the previous B.C. Liberal government took $1.2 billion in surpluses from ICBC between 2009 and 2016, which eroded its financial stability and led to higher premiums.

“I believe we need to do all we can to prevent future government from diverting surpluses away from ICBC,” said Eby at a news conference. “The previous government treated ICBC like an ATM, year after year.”

The government also recently announced plans to curtail legal costs in the public insurance system by limiting the ability of injured people to sue at-fault drivers after a crash. The NDP said the change will lower premiums by about 20 per cent or an average of $400 in annual savings per driver in 2021.

Eby said its measures to bring stability to ICBC are forecast to produce surpluses starting this year. He said preventing the diversion of optional capital funds will benefit drivers.

“When that money is inside ICBC in its capital accounts, it can help reduce rate costs through investment income,” he said. “When it’s taken out of ICBC and put into government’s account it reduces government’s borrowing costs, but it also deprives ICBC of the ability of using that investment income to reduce rates.”

The Opposition Liberals were not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2020.

ICBC and police remind drivers to “take a break” from their phones

February 27, 2020

Since 2014, more than one in four fatal crashes on B.C. roads have involved distracted driving, which is why ICBC and police continue to combat this dangerous driving behaviour that claims 76 lives each year.*

This month, drivers will be hearing one message – take a break from your phone when you’re behind the wheel. Not only is it dangerous, but the costs can add up quickly.

One distracted driving ticket is $368 plus four penalty points ($252) for a total of $620. And this number vastly increases to more than $2,500 if you get a second distracted driving ticket within 12 months. Yet tough penalities haven’t deterred some drivers, with an average of 1,335 drivers receiving multiple tickets every year.**

If you want to save your money for something more fun, remember to leave your phone alone while driving.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement during March, and community volunteers are setting up Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to leave their phone alone. The campaign also features advertising and social media support.

Drivers can do their part by avoiding distractions while driving and encouraging others to do the same. Activate Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature or what’s similarly available on other devices. Free ‘not while driving’ decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to support the campaign and encourage other road users to leave their phones alone.

You can get tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in our province – it’s the number one cause of crashes. Police officers see distracted drivers on the roads in every community. We are stepping up efforts making sure people leave their phones alone while driving.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs & Driver Licensing

“Using electronic devices, like smartphones, is one of the most common and riskiest forms of distracted driving. Safer roads start with every driver making a conscious decision to focus on the road and leave their phones alone. Let’s all do our part to create a safer driving culture in B.C.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Every year, on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, nine people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 29 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2014 to 2018. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

**Annual average based on 2016 to 2018 ICBC data.

 

#JustDrive – SGI: 284 impaired driving offences reported in January

Feb 25, 2020

Getting arrested for driving impaired is a terrible way to start off the new year, as 284 people found out in January.

The January spotlight found police across the province reporting 231 Criminal Code charges for impaired driving and 53 roadside administrative suspensions.

While many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, it’s important to commit to drive sober or plan a safe ride home when you know you’ll be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Saskatchewan has tough consequences for impaired drivers, and impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads.

Distracted driving tickets decline for third consecutive month

The number of reported distracted driving offences continued to trend lower in January after seeing significant drops in both November and December. Police reported 509 tickets issued last month (including 405 for cellphone use).

Remember, distracted driving penalties increased Feb. 1, but police officers were keeping a close eye on distracted drivers long before the change, and will continue to focus on this issue.

In January, police in Saskatchewan also reported the following:

  • 428 tickets related to seatbelts and car seats and,
  • 5,563 tickets for speeding and aggressive driving.

February’s Traffic Safety Spotlight continues to be on distracted driving. Avoiding a big ticket (plus demerits, and vehicle impoundment for a repeat offence) is easy. Leave the phone alone, be wary of other behaviours that might distract you, and #JustDrive.

ICBC unveils new road safety school resources

ICBC unveils new road safety school resources

As part of ICBC’s commitment to promoting a safe driving culture in B.C., ICBC has developed new road safety learning resources to help teachers give children and young adults the foundation they need to stay safe.

Designed for students from preschool to grade 10, teachers can now download road safety resources for free at icbc.com. The material is divided by grade level, and each grade has a teachers’ manual and handout booklet for students.

“I’m impressed with all the materials available to us,” said David Evans, teacher, South Island Distance Education. “There are activities and worksheets for all grade levels and ties back to the new learning standards. Thank you for helping us improve ways to be safer in our community.”

“Whether it’s learning how to safely cross the road, or understanding the rules of a four-way stop, road safety is important for all British Columbians,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president of public affairs and driver licensing. “As part of our commitment to promoting a safe driving culture in B.C., we’ve developed these road safety resources to help give children and young adults the tools they need to stay safe, now and in the future.”

The new material is downloadable, searchable and easily printable in its PDF format. The redesigned school materials align with the Ministry of Education’s new curriculum guidelines, which include:

  • incorporating Core Competencies, Big Ideas, and Learning Standards through the Know-Do-Understand model
  • focusing on personal safety, personal awareness, and personal/social responsibility
  • integrating the First Peoples Principles of Learning perspectives

Learn more about these resources available to educators at icbc.com/4teachers.

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