ICBC’s conduct in this case was so high-handed, reprehensible and malicious that it offended the Court’s sense of decency. The conduct of ICBC was high on the scale of blameworthiness. The defendant ICBC is a public insurance company. As an insurance company it is expected to act in good faith. As a public company, its employees are also expected to meet high standards of professional conduct.
One of ICBC’s key purposes and reasons for existence is to serve the residents of British Columbia, by providing compensation when someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident. The corporation does not serve the residents of this province when it uses tactics of intimidation to discourage civil claims.(para 383 of Arsenovski v. Bodin, 2016 BCSC 359).
The ICBC investigator focused on the claimant as being “recent immigrants” who had just applied for “refugee status” and the fact that they were on “social assistance”. He contacted someone at Canada Immigration and “passed the information on” regarding “medical fraud”, and advised that the claimant was under investigation for “insurance fraud”.
This fraud claim was ultimately found to be bogus and ICBC was punished with a $350,000 punitive damage award. The judge did not mince words,
 Given ICBC’s role as motor vehicle insurer for a majority of drivers in British Columbia, there is a need to ensure deterrence of behaviour of this sort on its part. It cannot be said that an award of punitive damages will cause it financial hardship. An award that is too small could be seen as simply the cost of doing business. ICBC stood to gain an advantage from its conduct.
The judge found that the claimant would likely not have had any prior experience or knowledge of the Canadian legal system or of British Columbia’s no-fault accident insurance system. She would not have known how in the future she would be treated, given that she was flagged by the state as a possible criminal. Given her vulnerability, the malicious prosecution have ICBC would have damaged her, “personal sense of security, a critically important and invaluable aspect of life in Canada.”
More posts to come on this case in the following weeks!