ICBC increases fairness of basic insurance rates

ICBC increases fairness of basic insurance rates

ICBC is updating basic insurance to increase the accountability of drivers who cause crashes by changing how much an at-fault crash affects their basic insurance rates. This will help to alleviate the pressure on future rates paid by customers who don’t cause crashes.

Going forward, drivers who cause multiple at-fault crashes will lose their safe driving discounts faster than they do today. ICBC is applying to the BC Utilities Commission to have these changes take effect May 6, 2018.

“We believe that drivers who cause crashes should pay more than those who don’t,” said Barry Penner, ICBC Board Chair. “There were 20,000 more crashes last year than in 2015. With the escalating pressures being put on insurance rates – from more crashes, more claims and higher costs per claim – we’re making sure at-fault drivers are held more accountable for the costs they add to the system here in B.C.”

Right now, it’s possible for some drivers who have achieved the maximum discount to have caused two, or even three, crashes and have the same discount on basic insurance as a driver who has never caused a crash. Under the new system, long-term safe drivers will continue to have their discount protected if they’re at-fault for one crash but that won’t be the case if they have multiple at-fault crashes.

“This change will help us ensure our safe driving discount is applied more fairly and continue to benefit our customers who make smart and safe driving decisions,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC President and CEO. “Drivers who make good driving decisions should pay less than drivers who cause multiple crashes.”

Starting today, drivers who cause crashes will have their discounts calculated based on the updated approach for policies renewed after May 6, 2018. This way, drivers will have plenty of warning and a chance to change their behaviour. The increased accountability changes will not apply to at-fault crashes that are on a driver’s insurance record prior to today. The vast majority of ICBC customers – those who don’t cause crashes – will not see any change.

All drivers will continue to earn credit towards discounts for every year they’re crash free. In addition, just like today, customers who cause a crash will regain their previous discount if they go three consecutive years without being responsible for a crash.

This update follows other measures ICBC and government have already taken to help alleviate the pressures on insurance rates, including:

  • Increasing penalties for distracted driving and continuing to combat this issue.
  • Focusing on stopping and deterring fraudulent and exaggerated claims.
  • Doubling basic premiums on certain high-value vehicles (personal vehicles worth more than $150,000) so the average ratepayer is not covering the cost of repairing these expensive, luxury cars.

ICBC is committed to working with the B.C. government to provide our customers with fair and affordable rates. As was announced last month, ICBC’s board of directors is commissioning a third-party review to look for options to keep future rate increases in line with the rate of inflation as much as possible. The terms of reference for this review were finalized on January 26, 2017. The review will identify key factors impacting basic insurance rates and provide a broad range of options available to limit future basic rate increases to the rate of inflation.

In the meantime, this update to basic insurance will ensure the safe driving discount is applied more fairly.

Media contact

Sam Corea

Limitation Period Not Postponed Where “Injuries Prove to be More Severe Than Initially Believed”

Today the BC Court of Appeal published reasons for judgement upholding the dismissal of a medical malpractice claim that was brought out of time.

In today’s case (Bell v. Wigmore) the Defendant “ performed a syringing procedure, irrigating and flushing” the Plaintiff’s ear.  The Plaintiff alleged this was done negligently and as a result the Plaintiff went on to suffer from long term dysfunction.   The Plaintiff started the lawsuit almost 6 years after the incident when the applicable limitation period was two years.

The case was dismissed at trial and the Plaintiff appealed arguing the limitation period should have been postponed because in the initial period “he had every reason to believe that his injuries were transient and relatively minor”.

The BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal finding there was no good reason to postpone the running of the limitation period.  In reaching this conclusion the Court provided the following legal summary:

23]        The mere fact that injuries prove to be more severe than initially believed will not serve to postpone the running of the limitation period: Peixeiro v. Haberman, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 549; Craig v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2005 BCCA 275. On the other hand, where it can be shown that the injuries were not, initially, sufficiently serious that a reasonable person would seek advice concerning a lawsuit, the running of the limitation period may be postponed to a time when the seriousness of the injuries became evident.

[24]        In Brooks v. Jackson, the plaintiff experienced a hemorrhage following the birth of her child. She was advised that “she should expect to be unwell for approximately two years, the length of time it would take to get her blood back and recover from the delivery.” Some four years later, she was diagnosed with Sheehan’s Syndrome, and soon after determined that the syndrome could have been brought on by the hemorrhage.

[25]        This Court found that the limitation period did not start to run until the plaintiff was diagnosed with Sheehan’s Syndrome:

[32]        In my opinion, a reasonable person in the position of Ms. Brooks would not have sought legal advice or further medical advice prior to the diagnosis of Sheehan’s Syndrome. She was advised in January 1998 she had no physical sequela from the delivery and she was satisfied with the answers Dr. Jackson gave to her questions. A reasonable person, in those circumstances, would not seek legal advice to determine whether there was a cause of action against Dr. Jackson. Ms. Brooks had no reason to believe that the temporary loss of blood had caused a permanent injury of a qualitatively different nature. It is my view that a reasonable person would not have sought legal advice until realizing the damage was more than transient in nature. Accordingly, the running of time in the limitation period was postponed until Ms. Brooks was diagnosed with Sheehan’s Syndrome, and the limitation period had not expired prior to the commencement of the action.

[26]        Brooks does not stand for the proposition that the running of a limitation period is postponed whenever a plaintiff has reason to believe that a condition will eventually subside. The question of whether a reasonable person would seek further advice turns on a number of factors. A court must consider the apparent severity of the injury and the duration and magnitude of its impact on the plaintiff’s lifestyle. A court will also consider whether, in the circumstances of the case, the plaintiff had good reason to suspect that someone was at fault in causing their injuries.

[27]        In Brooks, legal and medical advice, if taken early on, might have led the plaintiff to understand that she had a reasonable cause of action. It would not, however, have been reasonable for her to take such advice, as she was unaware that she had suffered serious harm, and had little reason to suspect that the harm she had suffered was a result of negligence.

Distracted driving returns as the traffic safety spotlight for the month of March.

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‘Giant denial’ about fraud risk in corporate Canada, warns ex-RCMP investigator

‘Giant denial’ about fraud risk in corporate Canada, warns ex-RCMP investigator

Shane McNeil,

Canadian businesses are in the midst of “a dangerous combination of overconfidence and naiveté when it comes to detecting fraud,” according to a new survey.

Half of Canadian businesses “either suspect or know for certain that their business has experienced fraud or scams in the last year,” according to a survey by Ipsos Reid conducted on behalf of tax and business consultant MNP.

However, the same study revealed that 80 per cent of the businesses polled are confident they can put a stop to it. The number of businesses that feel “at least somewhat” able to deal with fraud was even higher at 90 per cent. Twice as many respondents believed fraud was an industry problem than those that believed it was an issue with their own companies.

“This kind of ‘it won’t happen to me’ optimism puts the advantage in the hands of criminals and makes Canadian businesses tremendously vulnerable,” said Greg Draper, MNP’s vice-president of valuations, forensics and litigation support, in a release.

“The reality is that no organization is immune from either internal or external fraud.”

Draper, a former RCMP investigator, added there is a “giant denial” in Canada when it comes to preventing business fraud.

“Fraudsters will go to great lengths to assume the identity of company executives or trusted vendors; spoofing company email messages, researching employees who are responsible for money management and using language specific to the company being targeted,” said Lynn Danis, criminal intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in a release. “Ultimately, fraud prevention falls on the business.”

The survey polled a combination of small business executives and C-suite execs from companies with 100 or more employees over a 10-day span in January.


Double Costs Awarded After Trial Judgement Nearly Doubles Plaintiff Formal Offer

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, awarding a Plaintiff double costs after obtaining judgement nearly doubling her pre trial formal settlement offer.

In the recent case (Risling v. Riches-Glazema) the Plaintiff was inured in a motor vehicle collision and prior to trial made a formal settlement offer of $315,000.  The Defendants rejected the offer and proceeded to trial where damages of $622,500 were awarded.  The Plaintiff sought and was granted post offer double costs.  In agreeing these were warranted Mr. Justice Affleck provided the following reasons:

[7]             In my view:

a)              The plaintiff’s case was well known to the defendants at the time of the offer. The plaintiff had been examined for discovery on two occasions; had attended two medical examinations at the request of the defendants, and a mediation had taken place in June 2016;

b)              the offer was made one week before the trial began which gave the defendants a full opportunity to consider it;

c)               the offer had a relationship to the claim and could not be characterized as a “nuisance offer”; and

d)              the offer was expressed in plain language and thus easily evaluated.

[8]             The final judgment of the court greatly exceeded the offer. The plaintiff submits her offer was a true attempt to reach a reasonable compromise of the claim and that the rationale for the double cost rule is to encourage parties to settle by taking a realistic view of the probable outcome of a trial. The plaintiff submits that rationale would be thwarted if in the present circumstances she is not entitled to double costs.

[10]         The defendants submit their limited understanding of the case made it difficult to quantify the claim and that, while the rationale for the rule for double costs is acknowledged, the defendants ought not to have been deterred from defending the claim for fear of a “punishing costs award”. Currie v. McKinnon, 2012 BCSC 1165 is relied on in support of that argument.

[11]         The defendants also submit that “no rationale for the offer was provided” in the plaintiff’s letter of August 15, 2016.

[12]         I do not agree that no rationale was provided. The plaintiff described the heads of damages she would advance at the trial and advised that the offer took into account “Part 7 Benefits paid or payable pursuant to Section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act”. Furthermore, the defendants had an opportunity on the mediation to canvas fully with the plaintiff’s legal advisers the extent of the plaintiff’s claim and the evidence at trial which would be advanced to support the claim.

[13]         I am also mindful that in Hartshorne the Court of Appeal expressed the view that the list of factors described in para. 27 of its reasons need not be relevant in every case.

[14]         Currie v. McKinnon does not help the defendants on this application. That case involved a personal injury claim with an award of damages which fell within the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court. Double costs were not awarded. In short Currie v. McKinnon is distinguishable on its facts from the matter before me to such an extent that it cannot usefully be called in aid of the defendants’ argument.

[15]         The plaintiff is entitled to the costs of this action including double costs from the date of the offer.

ICBC steps up fight against auto insurance fraud in 2017

ICBC steps up fight against auto insurance fraud in 2017

ICBC continues to fight insurance fraud in 2017, with a new education campaign to support its increased fraud prevention efforts.

Following December’s news that ICBC had generated its first results from a new high-tech tool which will help identify and target fraudulent claims, the corporation is now reminding British Columbians, through a new advertising campaign, of the serious nature and cost of insurance fraud.

“The goal of this information campaign is to show British Columbians that exaggerating an injury for financial gain is wrong,” said Chris Fairbridge, ICBC’s manager of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

Most claims are honest, but insurance industry studies estimate that fraudulent or exaggerated claims make up about 10 to 20 per cent of all claims costs. Applying those estimates means that fraud and exaggeration is costing ICBC customers up to $600 million a year, or more than $100 a year for each ICBC policyholder.

The 2016 public information campaign sparked a 70 per cent increase to ICBC’s fraud tips line in the first quarter. Overall last year, the fraud tips line received nearly 1,900 calls – a 66 per cent increase over the volume of tips in 2015.

“We want the public to better understand the role they can play so we can work together to best prevent fraud,” added Fairbridge. “Tips help us take action by investigating suspicious situations in order to protect the majority of our customers who file honest claims.”

In 2016, ICBC’s Special Investigation Unit completed close to 10,000 investigations.

ICBC expects fraud detection and enforcement activities to reduce ICBC’s basic insurance claims costs by $21 million for policies written over the next year. And ICBC estimates all of these activities, including use of the analytics tool, will save up to $44 million a year by 2019.

The most common types of insurance fraud include false claims, exaggerated claims and organized fraud. An example of a false claim is when an owner fabricates a story about their vehicle being stolen when it was actually disposed of by the owner. Exaggerated claims are when a driver or passenger embellishes a claim by overstating their injuries or the damage to their vehicle. And organized fraud is a planned event such as a staged collision.

British Columbians can further protect their wallets by reporting suspicious activities related to insurance fraud to ICBC’s toll-free tips line at 1-800-661-6844. Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous. For more information, visit

Here are some of ICBC’s 2016 fraud files:

Exaggerating the impact

A woman involved in a minor rear-end crash in 2013, which caused approximately $1,100 worth of damage to her vehicle, claimed more than $200,000 in pain and suffering and other damages. The B.C. Supreme Court judge had serious concerns about the woman’s credibility and found she “attempted to mislead the court and exaggerated the impact of the accident on her physical condition and her ability to work.” In the end, the judge awarded less than 20 per cent of what she was demanding in her claim. Because the judge’s award was less than what ICBC had offered before she took the case to trial, she is also responsible to pay two times ICBC’s legal costs.

Fraud – a serious offence in the courts

A Provincial Court case concluded in November 2016, where four people involved in a 2013 crash were all convicted for making false injury claims with ICBC. The fines ranged from $2,000 to $3,000 and three of the four were sentenced to one day in jail. The fourth received a sentence of three days in jail.

In this case, injury claims were presented to ICBC, even though two of the occupants who said they were in the vehicle involved in the crash, weren’t actually in the vehicle. In fact, only two people were in the vehicle along with two dogs.

Cell phone reports were used in this case indicating that those making claims were talking to each other at the time of the crash.

In his reasons for sentence, B.C. Provincial Court Judge, John Lenaghan said the case was “in many ways, a very serious offence because it is a fraud perpetrated upon everyone in the province who relies upon the Insurance Corporation.”

Who smashed up the BMW?

A 21-year-old man reported his mother’s 2010 BMW 750 had been vandalized while it was in his possession and parked at his relatives’ house in New Westminster when visiting them on the evening of October 31, 2016.

The man claimed he found the vehicle with smashed windows, dented exterior body panels, broken head and tail lights, slashed leather seats and a smashed dashboard and navigation system. The $35,000 car was a write off.

However, no one inside the house had heard any noise outside where the vehicle was parked during the two-hour period that the vandalism was said to have happened. And none of the four other expensive cars in the driveway had been damaged. And ICBC didn’t have any other reports of vandalism in the area.

The vehicle owner claimed that the BMW was in excellent working condition, but an inspection at ICBC’s Centralized Estimating Facility showed an engine-warning light on the dash. The mechanical inspection later revealed the car suffered from disintegrating drive clutches in the transmission, excessive oil consumption, excessive engine and transmission oil leaks and two engine fault codes that had set off the engine warning light. Follow-up discussions with the owner resulted in information that didn’t match the mechanical inspection of the car.

Due to false statements about the condition of the car, ICBC denied the claim.

Engaged couple engage in fake pedestrian crash

While out for a leisurely walk in East Vancouver, a man said a car struck him. He claimed a variety of injuries but didn’t have any witnesses and emergency vehicles didn’t attend the scene. The man was anxious to settle his injury claim and became angry when the ICBC adjuster said ICBC needed to talk to the insured motorist. Suddenly, a woman called to report a claim and admitted to striking the pedestrian. She didn’t have the name and said she didn’t know who he was.

The man tried again to settle his claim quickly, a further review showed the man had filed three previous pedestrian knockdown claims. Again, he said he didn’t know the driver. But when the Special Investigation Unit took on the case, investigators discovered Facebook posts that revealed the two were in fact a happy couple and were engaged to be married just two weeks before the incident. The man has abandoned his claim.

Trio of staged crashes

Three crashes in Surrey close to a local auto body repair shop raised the suspicions of ICBC investigators.

In a complex web of relationships and links involving six people, it turns out one of the claimants responsible for the first crash and claiming to be injured in the third crash works at the repair shop with another man who was claiming to be injured in both the second and third crashes.

A woman claiming to be hurt in the first crash and the man responsible for crash number two were dating each other. And another woman claiming to be hurt in the first crash called another man, claiming to be injured in the second and third crashes, to drive her home after crash number one.

After an ICBC investigation, it turns out the crashes were all staged and deliberate resulting in $58,000 in vehicle damage claims and injury benefits. ICBC has denied all of the injury claims and is now pursuing legal action to recover the costs of the damage and injury benefits paid.

Media contact

Sam Corea

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