Any serious injury is accompanied by many different questions:
- What is my medical prognosis?
- How long will my recovery take?
- How long will I be out of work?
- What is my family going to do for money?
- What paperwork do I have to complete?
According to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, “transport-related” accidents are the second-leading cause of acute hospitalizations in British Columbia. With this being the case, it is important to understand the role of ICBC coverage in your car accident case.
ICBC basic insurance coverage is compulsory for all drivers in British Columbia. As a result, the corporation will usually be involved in handling your accident claim.
With one insurance company handling the vast majority of road accidents in B.C., you might think the benefits process is fairly straightforward. While each case is different, the process is typically not straightforward, especially if you have been seriously injured in the crash, your loved one came to serious harm, or one or more fatalities occurred.
For assistance with an ICBC claim after an accident, please call (604) 874-7171 to arrange your initial consultation with Klein Lawyers in Vancouver or another community in British Columbia. Our team will discuss the details of your claim for free and review all of your legal options for maximum recovery.
What Is Included in ICBC Coverage?
The mandatory minimum coverage that all drivers in British Columbia must have with ICBC is the Basic Autoplan. The full terms of the policy are available online, but here we focus on the terms of coverage and how much is available in compensation.
The following coverage types are included in the ICBC Basic Autoplan:
- Accident benefits: Provides compensation for some treatment and some wage replacement benefits after a collision, as well as some death and funeral benefits
- Underinsured Motorist Protection (U.M.P.): Provides benefits for injury or death in accidents caused by a driver who doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover your losses
- Hit-and-run: Provides coverage in the event the other motorist leaves the scene and cannot be identified
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Provides coverage in the event the other motorist has no insurance
- Third-party liability: Provides protection if you are at fault for the accident and a third party pursues compensation for damages
The amounts payable under these different coverages vary. In all cases, benefits are reduced proportionate to your share of the fault for the accident, except for accident benefits.
How Much Are Accident Benefits Under ICBC?
With accident benefits, you and any passengers in your vehicle are currently entitled to a maximum of $300,000 each for medical costs associated with accident injuries. If the loss occurred prior to January 1, 2018, the maximum is $150,000. This is proposed to change next year.
Some of the costs covered by accident benefits include:
- Emergency treatment
- Transportation via ambulance
- Medications and medical supplies
- Chiropractic appointments
- Dental treatment for injuries to the teeth, soft tissues of the mouth, and jaw
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other rehabilitation
In addition to medical expenses, accident benefits coverage also include some compensation for wage loss replacement. If you are unable to work after the accident, ICBC considers this a “total disability.” To compensate for total disability, accident benefits currently pay 75 percent of your weekly income, or up to $740 a week – whichever amount is smaller. If the loss occurred prior to April 1, 2018, the maximum is $300 a week. This is proposed to change next year. These amounts are subject to reduction based on benefits you receive from other disability and pension programs.
If your loved one was killed in a vehicle collision, accident benefits coverage also has provisions for certain expenses related to death. This includes up to $7,500 for funeral and burial costs, as well as lump sum payments to spouses ($30,000) and dependents ($6,000 each) of the deceased. (Payment amounts vary if the deceased had dependents but no spouse, whether the deceased was an adult or child, and other considerations.) If the date of the accident was before April 1, 2018, these benefits will be considerably less.
What Does Underinsured Motorist Protection Cover?
Drivers with the Basic Autoplan only carry $200,000 in liability coverage. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for compensation awards in a motor vehicle accident to climb into the upper hundreds of thousands of dollars – well beyond accident benefits coverage or third party liability in the basic ICBC policy.
In these instances, Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP) may offset the additional costs you’re facing. This coverage may pay up to $1 million for any insureds who are injured or killed in a crash caused by an at-fault driver where the award exceeds the terms of his or her insurance coverage.
What About Uninsured Drivers, or Drivers Who Hit and Run?
ICBC provides compensation of up to $200,000 for bodily injury, property damage, and/or fatalities in cases where the driver who is at fault does not carry auto insurance or flees the scene of an accident.
Both hit-and-runs and driving without insurance are illegal. If you don’t have insurance and cause an accident, you may be fined, ticketed, or even given notice or a summons to appear in court. Drivers who are convicted of criminal code hit and run offences face prison sentences of 5-10 years, or possibly more if the victim dies (at which point the charge could become vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide).
What Is Covered Under Third Party Liability?
Third party liability coverage provides you some measure of protection if you are at fault in the accident. The basic policy pays up to $200,000 for injury and property damage.
Many drivers in British Columbia purchase extra insurance coverage for third party liability to reduce their personal financial risk if they cause an accident. ICBC and private insurance companies both offer this optional coverage.
Am I Covered by ICBC?
The benefits of Basic Autoplan insurance may sound straightforward. However, accident claims can quickly become complicated, especially in cases of serious injury or death where the losses exceed the limits of the policy.
If you were gravely injured or your loved one was killed in an auto accident, it is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Our lawyers can guide you through the ICBC process, discuss your options for a third-party tort claim, and more to ensure you and your family receive the entirety of the compensation you deserve.
Klein Lawyers has extensive experience in ICBC claims and car accident cases. For a free consultation, please call (604) 874-7171 to schedule your meeting with a lawyer at our offices in Vancouver and nearby communities of British Columbia.