ICBC is a crown corporation.  A crown corporation is a public sector organization established and funded by our own elected provincial government.  ICBC was created to provide universal compulsory automobile insurance to British Columbian drivers.  As “compulsory” automobile insurance, ICBC has a monopoly over the entire province. There is simply no competition or choice.  If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you must deal with ICBC and only ICBC.

In ICBC’s Annual Reports, ICBC’s purpose is stated as follows: “ICBC is committed to providing customers with the best insurance coverage at the lowest possible cost.”

ICBC’s mismanagement has been at the forefront of negative publicity.  There have been large losses and deficits in the past few years.  This mismanagement has undoubtedly increased the cost of handling injury claims to date.  Despite this, ICBC’s management team remains the same and in tact.  It is doubtful that this would happen in the private sector.

During the last few years, there have been several trial decisions where ICBC and its strategies have been criticized:

Another trial decision was recently released where the trial judge criticized ICBC’s poor defence of a large claim brought by an injured claimant with permanent injuries which impacted her ability to continue working in her chosen profession.  In Moon v. Yaranon 2021 BCSC 818, the trial judge stated at the beginning of the judgment:

[4]             The defendant advanced no expert evidence. The defendant called only one witness: Mr Lai, a physiotherapist who treated the plaintiff in December 2015 and January 2016, just after the accident. His evidence lasted all of 10 minutes; he remembered almost nothing from his brief treatment of the plaintiff, nearly five years previous. Nor did the defendant advance hidden video or evidence from neighbours or associates indicating exaggerated disability, as is typical in personal injury cases. Such evidence is especially important where the credibility of the plaintiff or her experts is not significantly challenged on cross-examination, as in the present case. Its absence makes the task of the court exceedingly difficult in a case such as the present, where the injuries are not discernible by medical imaging or other objective means. Evidence of the existence and extent of the injury is presented through the subjective assertions of the plaintiff, both directly, and via expert testimony largely based, in turn, on those same subjective assertions.

[5]             These observations are not directed at all toward Mr Ross, who was only brought in as counsel a few months before trial, after most deadlines had passed for such evidence, and who was acting on his client’s instructions. Unfortunately, this strategy of contesting a plaintiff’s claim, and forcing a plaintiff to proceed to trial, in an effective game of chicken, is not confined to this case: this judge alone has presided over at least one other recent trial with minimal evidence, minimal cross-examination, and minimal argument, presented by the provincial automobile insurer qua defendant.

[6]             Of course, it is the defendant’s right to force the plaintiff to prove her case, and the defendant is not required to adduce any evidence at all. One may question whether the provincial insurer is penny-wise and pound-foolish by advancing such a strategy in the face of a $1.7 million claim, which cost will ultimately be borne by British Columbians if the plaintiff is successful. But I reiterate that such a strategy makes the task of the Court exceedingly difficult, and undermines its truth-finding function.

These are very concerning comments considering ICBC’s strategies over the last 2 years where unreasonably low settlement offers have forced numerous claims to trial which should have been settled out of court resulting in wasted resources and expenses at the foot of taxpayers.  This is also very concerning given that No Fault Insurance is now the law for all motor vehicle accident claims occurring on or after May 1, 2021.  No Fault Insurance is WCB / Worksafe BC on wheels.  There is now no compensation for pain and suffering.  ICBC is entirely in charge of determining “if” you are entitled to benefits for rehabilitation and disability payments if you are unable to work.  ICBC is also entirely in charge of determining the “amount” of benefits you are entitled to, if any.  Lawyers are no longer part of the system – injured claimants are now on their own to navigate a very complex system.  Injured claimants no longer have the ability to challenge ICBC’s unilateral decisions in a court of law.  All this to save 20% on your auto insurance…

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