Remember that if you are injured and are not at fault, that your claim is against the policy of insurance of the “at-fault” driver; not against your own insurance policy. ICBC’s obligation is to represent the party who is responsible for your injuries. They have no obligation to facilitate or assist in the development of all the necessary components of your case.
ICBC adjusters have two primary functions, assigning blame (sometimes called assessing liability or fault) and minimizing claims costs (such as yours – i.e., keeping injury awards as low as possible).
In BC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), is commonly the insurance company for all the drivers in a motor vehicle accident. This potentially puts ICBC in a conflict of interest, because ICBC may represent both the driver who caused the accident and the innocent victim. ICBC’s duty to represent the policy of insurance of the “at-fault” vehicle means they are obliged to pay out as little as possible from the at-fault driver’s policy of insurance to you. Also, ICBC is a Crown Corporation and has a duty to taxpayers to keep mandatory insurance premiums low. Part of how they accomplish this is by taking action to keep claims costs low (i.e., minimizing the cost of making insurance payments to people injured in motor vehicle accidents). The result is pressure on ICBC adjusters to look for weaknesses in your case that can reduce the amount of compensation ICBC must pay you. This often starts from your very first contact with ICBC when you report the accident to a Dial-a-Claims operator.
When you report the accident, you will be asked to give a statement. You may need to provide a written account of the accident within 30 days of the accident, but at this stage all you need to do is report that an accident occurred and demonstrate your intention to provide a statement at a later date. You should be aware that the person you talk to is trained to start looking for weakness in your case and ICBC will not hesitate to use your statement as evidence to prove that you:
It is perfectly acceptable for you to advise the Dial-a-Claims operator that you are happy to answer their questions fully when you meet with an adjuster and that you’d prefer to wait until then to describe what happened to make sure you provide a full and accurate account and don’t forget any important information. DO NOT be pressured in to accepting the first available appointment with an ICBC adjuster – at a minimum, give yourself enough time to go and see your doctor and get legal advice.
If you decide to deal with ICBC on your own, the first meeting with ICBC is important and can set the tone for how your case will be handled. You may be asked to:
This meeting may also involve providing documents about your employment and other insurance plans, signing releases to allow ICBC to collect information about you and giving written statements all of which can affect the compensation you end up receiving.
The ICBC adjuster may ask you to provide the following information:
Getting legal advice in advance of this meeting is strongly recommended.
IMPORTANT: If you have already met with ICBC on your own, it is not too late to get legal advice and help. For example, it is always a good idea to get independent legal advice before you sign a settlement agreement, particularly if you are still in the process of recovering from your injuries.