How to challenge ICBC decisions
Dealing with ICBC can be a headache
So you're unhappy with the decision ICBC made on your case. Before you panic, consider that there are several avenues for disputing this decision and achieving a better outcome.
Caveat: Before taking any of the approaches below, you should always talk things over with your ICBC claims representative. This is your chance to highlight information which you think was overlooked, and to seek clarification about the rationale for the decision that was made.
If you're not satisfied, you can ask to speak to their manager, and if you're still not satisfied you have the options below.
Do your best to document all your interactions with ICBC, including who you communicated with and on what date.
I. Liability Disputes
Let's say the claims representative on your case assigns you 50 percent responsibility for a collision, but you know the other party was completely at fault and you can prove it.
What should you do?
ICBC Responsibility Review Team
If speaking with your claims representative and their manager hasn't yielded results, your next step is to contact ICBC's responsibility review team. They'll review your claim file, assess the original decision, and then notify you in writing of their decision.
You can reach the ICBC responsibility review team by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be warned, however, to be eligible for this review you must submit your request within 90 days of the date of your notification of responsibility.
Civil Resolution Tribunal
Not satisfied with the responsibility review team's decision?
At this point you can further your dispute through the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT). The CRT is an independent body, which, among other things, provides decisions on motor vehicle claims, including liability.
If you take your case to the CRT, you'll have a chance to negotiate a more desirable outcome with ICBC. If no agreement can be made during negotiation, your case will enter the facilitation stage, in which a CRT case manager will try to help the parties reach an agreement.
Should nothing come of that, a tribunal member will make the final decision on your case. CRT decisions are legally binding on both the customer and ICBC, meaning ICBC will abide by their ruling.
Some disputes can also be filed in small claims court or B.C. Supreme Court, but be warned, this can be an extremely lengthy process compared to the options above. While most CRT decisions are made within 6 months, court cases can drag on for many years.
II. Settlement Amount
Not happy with what you've been offered?
Maybe you agree with ICBC's assessment of liability, but you don't believe they're offering you enough money.
In this case, you still have options, but they're slightly more limited than those for disputing liability.
Civil Resolution Tribunal
As with disputes over liability, the Civil Resolution Tribunal can handle unresolved disputes over settlement amounts, following the same steps outlined above.
As with liability disputes, while taking your case to small claims court or the BC Supreme Court may be an option, it could take you years to get a decision using this approach.
When disagreement is specifically over the lost value or usability of a vehicle, and you have raised the issue with an ICBC supervisor or manager to no avail, you can enter vehicle arbitration. You must be ready to offer evidence to support your side of the dispute.
III. Denied Benefits
It's possible that ICBC doesn't believe you've shown the need for medical and rehabilitation benefits. For example, if you never sought medical care, there will be no record to support your claim for medical expenses.
In this case you should speak with your claims representative, as they're obligated to disclose why your claim was denied.
If you can't get anywhere with them, you can bring your concerns to your insurance adjuster’s manager. The manager can review the details of your claim and may even refer your claim to ICBC’s claims coverage committee for extra review.
IV. General Issues
Perhaps your issue isn't with liability or a settlement offer, but something more general.
Was evidence incorrectly excluded?
Was communication poor or non-existent?
Were you discriminated against?
There are several potential avenues to seek remedy.
ICBC Fair Practices Office
If you're not happy with the service you've received you can take your case to the ICBC Fair Practices Office.
Fair Practices can look into your case and facilitate a resolution, refer you to an alternate dispute resolution process, and help you understand the decisions and actions related to your concern.
You can reach Fair Practices at FairPractices@icbc.com or 604-982-6210.
If you're still not satisfied, you may want to write the ICBC Fairness Officer. They can help you resolve the concern with ICBC, make recommendations, and suggest mediation or arbitration.
You should only contact the Fairness Officer if you've heard back from the ICBC Fair Practices Office. Otherwise you may be referred back to Fair Practices until you've received a response.
Office of the Ombudsperson
The Ombudsperson investigates complaints from members of the public who feel they've been treated unfairly by a public agency. If the investigation shows you've been treated unfairly, outcomes can include reimbursement, an apology, or an overturned decision.
BC Human Rights Tribunal
If you feel ICBC has discriminated against you based on a protected characteristic such as race, religion, gender, or disability, you can make a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
If you win your case, the Tribunal will order a remedy for the discrimination, which could be compensation or steps to address the discrimination.
V. Who can help with my case?
MLAs and Advocates
Many law firms claim expertise in dealing with ICBC. A lawyer can try to negotiate with your claims representative or represent you in court if it gets to that point. While having an experienced lawyer can be helpful, it can also be pricey and a favourable result still isn't assured.
Friends or Family
Finally, if you have a friend or family member who is familiar with ICBC processes, or who has a good attention to detail, feel free to get them involved as a supporter, even if that just means sitting in on meetings or phone calls with you to confirm details.
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-Spencer van Vloten