The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a publicly-owned crown corporation that has provided universal car insurance to drivers in B.C. since 1973.
By law, the owner of any vehicle that is parked or driven in B.C. must purchase the basic ‘autoplan’ coverage that provides protection against third-party claims, hit-and-run accidents, uninsured and underinsured motorists and other accident claims.
Like any other insurer, ICBC’s customers pay for coverage. Premiums are influenced by factors such as driving experience and the number of prior claims.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you are required to file a report with ICBC within 24 hours of the incident. A representative will request your basic driver information, details regarding the accident and whether you or any passengers were injured.
Your claim will then be referred to a claims adjuster. The adjuster will research the particulars of your claim and make a settlement offer.
Knowing how to deal with an ICBC adjuster can mean the difference between getting the compensation you need or having your claim denied. Consider these four tips before deciding to deal with an ICBC adjuster.
Realize your claims adjuster is looking out for ICBC’s own best interests, not yours
Your claims adjuster may lead you to believe that he or she has your best interests at heart. Realize that the adjuster is just another employee of ICBC. The adjuster’s main goal, and the yardstick by which his or her performance as an employee will be judged, is the ability to save the company money.
Insurance companies make money in two ways:
- Charging premiums
- Avoiding paying out claims.
ICBC claim adjusters face intense pressure to keep costs low in terms of the expenses associated with a claim. They also face the pressure of keeping ICBC claim settlements low by providing low estimates in terms of damages.
Make no mistake. It is actually in the best interest of your claims adjuster to deny or undervalue your claim. This is one of the most important reasons why you need an experienced ICBC claim lawyer at your side and working on your behalf.
Be aware that your ICBC claims adjuster may attempt to pin the fault on you.
Once you have taken the first step in reporting your claim, the next step will be for your ICBC claims adjuster to gather information to help determine whether or not you were at fault for the accident.
If the adjuster can make a determination that you were even partially at fault for the accident, the adjuster can avoid paying out a settlement and increase your future premiums.
In assessing fault in a car accident, your claims adjuster will review any statements you make in reporting your claim and any police reports that have been filed. The adjuster may also visit the accident site and consult with witnesses and the other driver involved in the accident.
Remember: ICBC is not only your insurance company, it is the other driver’s insurer, too.
Your ICBC adjuster has 30 days to make a determination as to fault in the accident. If the adjuster determines that you were in any way at fault for the accident, you still retain the right to appeal your ICBC adjuster’s assessment of fault by speaking with the adjuster’s manager and asking for a claims assessment review. A lawyer can help you with this appeal.
Understand that any information can be used against you.
In the course of processing and investigating your claim, your ICBC claims adjuster will likely have you fill out medical release forms that entitle ICBC to have access to your medical records.
Your adjuster also will obtain police reports, witness statements and damage estimates from any repair shops or towing companies. Be aware that any of this information can and will be used against you.
In addition, if you have made any statements or kept any kind of diary or notes regarding the accident or your injuries, disclosure of this information can be demanded through the court.
Familiarize yourself with the Freedom of Information Act, which allows you to see any information that is being used to make a determination in your case.
You can make a request at any time to see any information your ICBC claims adjuster has obtained. Make sure you know the statements and records that are being used to make a determination in your case.
Review any claim settlement offers carefully.
If the ICBC claims adjuster has reviewed your case and offers an accident claim settlement, resist the impulse to immediately accept it. While the promise of quick money is alluring and can go a long way towards meeting some of the expenses you have incurred as the result of your accident, rushing to accept an offer has the potential to hurt you in the long run.
A settlement offer that does not factor in the potential for long-term damages resulting from your accident can result in heavy losses for you down the line.
You can dispute the amount ICBC offers in terms of a settlement. You can also have one of our experienced ICBC lawyers negotiate with ICBC on your behalf.
Unfortunately, once you have accepted a claim offer, there is no going back. You cannot change your mind or appeal an accident claim settlement decision at a later date once you have accepted it. So, before accepting any claim, contact one of our ICBC claims lawyers first for a free consultation.
Our Experienced ICBC Claims Lawyers Can Help You to File a Car Accident Injury Claim
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact our experienced Vancouver ICBC claims lawyers today. At Klein Lawyers, LLP, we provide the effective, efficient legal representation you need when dealing with ICBC. Serving the entire Vancouver and surrounding areas, our lawyers understand the serious and potentially long-term damages you may have suffered as the result of your accident. Do not settle for less than what your claim is worth.