Power Sport News, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2007
By Daryl Brown
IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A COLLISION IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, it is mandatory you contact the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, (ICBC) to report the details within 30 days. In less serious situations, reporting the incident over the phone via the ‘Dial-a-Claim’ centre is sufficient. Your information will be recorded and an appointment with an insurance adjuster is not necessary. When you or others receive injury however, ICBC will request you attend the claim centre to provide an adjuster with a written statement. In the most serious situations where you are unable to attend due to injury, an agent for ICBC will attempt to visit you in the hospital or at your home for this purpose. You do not want to refuse to provide a written statement as that may cause you to forfeit coverage, although signing an exhaustive and lengthy statement can present problems in your case at a later date.
The ICBC adjuster or agent will always try to gather information that exceeds the immediate details. They will inquire about several things including whether you had suffered previous injury before the collision, were working full time or were unable to perform certain activities to name a few. Compiling this information allows them to bolster the claim against you ultimately reducing any award you may eventually be entitled.
To understand this, you must remember that ICBC is acting in a dual role as we all purchase third party insurance from them. Third party coverage is the portion of your insurance that pays the non-negligent, injured victims for various damages including: pain and suffering, wage loss, future loss, future care and out of pocket expenses. Therefore, if you are found liable for an accident, your ICBC third party insurance will pay the damages awarded to the injured party. Similarly, if you are hurt, the other driver’s ICBC third party insurance coverage will pay you damages.
Consequently, the ICBC adjuster is in a position to investigate many aspects of the claim in the initial stages and will try to gather evidence that may eventually reduce their exposure. For example, if you suffered from a prior injury to the same portion of your body that was injured in the collision, you did not miss any work or the collision did not prevent you from performing any regular activities, your claim may be worth less when it comes time to settle. Collecting this information assists them reduce their overall exposure possibly before all your injuries are realized.
Similarly, when providing a statement, you will be asked to sign several authorization forms permitting ICBC to gather records from various places. These records will include those kept by your doctors, employers and Canada Revenue. Often they will request documents that precede the collision by several years. The purpose is to determine your entitlement but also to look for information that could reduce your award even though in many instances your records contain information that is privileged or not relevant to the claim.
To overcome the obstacles of providing a statement directly to an adjuster or their agent, you may consider providing your own written statement. Section 97 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation, B.C. Reg. 447/83 only requires you provide, “particulars of the circumstances in which the accident occurred and the consequences of the accident”. It does not state how long your statement must be, so a few words about the collision and your injuries will ensure your obligation is met. The advantage of keeping your statement brief will insure its contents are not used against you at a later date. Once your statement is complete, you may deliver it to the nearest ICBC claims centre without speaking with an adjuster or their agent.
Your other statutory obligation is to complete a CL-22 or Accident Benefit Claim Form within 90 days from the date of the collision. This document will enable you to collect certain medical and partial wage loss benefits under the Accident Benefit scheme available to all drivers regardless of fault. Failing to complete this form may result in the loss of benefits if prejudice occurs to ICBC.
In summary, if requested, you may decide to speak with an adjuster following the collision to provide them with a statement. If this procedure concerns you however, your only obligation is to deliver a written statement setting out the particulars of the circumstances of the accident and the resulting consequences within 30 days. You do not need to complete the authorization forms but will need to complete the Accident Benefit form to ensure you receive benefits if entitled.
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