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ICBC's New No-Fault Insurance: The Who's, the What's, and the How's

With the recent changes to BC's vehicle insurance model, specifically ICBC's new No-Fault Insurance, people no doubt have been coming to us with questions. So, we reached out to BC Litigation Lawyer and Lawggle member, Kaitlin Pierce, for some expert insight into the changes. Read below to see how these changes may affect you if you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident.

British Columbia’s New No-Fault Insurance – What this Means for You

What is No Fault Insurance?

On May 1, 2021 ICBC enacted a new no-fault insurance model. Under this new model, being referred to as an “enhanced care” model by ICBC, individuals who have insurance policies with ICBC will not be able to sue for injuries sustained in a car accident, even if they are not at fault. Individuals who are injured in accidents after May 1, 2021 may instead be entitled to treatment and wage loss coverage under their own insurance policy, but they cannot sue in court for any award against the at-fault driver. It does not matter how severe the injuries are, or who is found to be at fault.

Who is Entitled to No-Fault Benefits?

To receive ICBC no-fault insurance benefits, you must be either be:

  • An owner of an ICBC-insured vehicle
  • Anyone in the vehicle owner’s household
  • A British Columbia resident who has been properly issued a valid driver’s license and members of that individual’s household
  • Any vehicle occupant who is licensed in B.C.
  • Any vehicle occupant not required to be licensed in B.C. but driven by a person with a valid B.C. license
  • A pedestrian or cyclist who crashes with an ICBC-insured vehicle
  • A B.C. resident who is entitled to bring an action due to a hit-and-run or accident with an underinsured motorist
A graphic of the timeline of changes made for ICBC's new No-Fault insurance model.

Timeline of Changes

  • January 1, 2018: overall limits for medical costs and treatments covered by ICBC increased from $150,000 to $300,000
  • April 1, 2019: $5,500 limit on all pain and suffering awards for “minor” injuries
  • Wage loss benefits previously maxed out at $300 per week. Maximum wage loss benefits were increased to $700 per week.
  • Previous maximum pain and suffering payment for catastrophic injuries was $390,000. Now the majority of injured individuals will receive $5,500 or less for this head of damage.
  • Injuries such as concussions, whiplash, TMJ disorder, and partial tears are classified as “minor” by ICBC.
  • May 1, 2021: No fault insurance comes into place – bar on suing for most motor vehicle accident related injuries
  • A set number of pre-approved medical sessions are covered by ICBC. After this, it will be the adjuster’s discretion to continue coverage for treatment.
  • ICBC will pay wage loss into the future of up to 90% of pre-accident income, up to a maximum yearly salary of $100,000

Amendments to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act

Section 115 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act reads as follows:

115 Despite any other law or enactment but subject to this Part,
(a) a person has no right of action and must not commence or maintain proceedings respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident, and
(b) no action or proceeding may be commenced or maintained respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident.
Section 115 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act reads as follows: Despite any other law or enactment but subject to this Part, (a) a person has no right of action and must not commence or maintain proceedings respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident, and (b) no action or proceeding may be commenced or maintained respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident.

Exceptions

There are few exceptions to the no-fault insurance scheme. Exceptions include: drivers convicted of certain criminal offenses (note that the at-fault driver must not just be charged, or plead to a lesser offence, but they must be criminally convicted of the specific offence that allows the ability to sue for damages in tort), against vehicle manufactures, mechanics, and drinking establishments who over serve their customers. 

The exceptions are set out in section 116 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act as follows:

116  (1) In this section:
“garage service operator” has the prescribed meaning;
“out-of-province owner” means a person who has ownership of a vehicle in a jurisdiction outside British Columbia in accordance with the law of that jurisdiction;
“voluntary occupant” means a person who is a voluntary operator of, or a voluntary passenger in or on, a vehicle that the person knew or ought to have known was being operated without the consent of the owner, the out-of-province owner or, in the case of a leased motor vehicle, the lessee.
(2) Subject to the regulations and subsection (3), section 115 does not apply to an action or proceeding for non-pecuniary damages and punitive, exemplary or other similar non-compensatory damages against any of the following:
(a) a vehicle manufacturer, respecting its business activities and role as a manufacturer;
(b) a person who is in the business of selling vehicles, respecting the person’s business activities and role as a seller;
(c) a maker or supplier of vehicle parts, respecting its business activities and role as a maker or supplier;
(d) a garage service operator, respecting its business activities and role as a garage service operator;
(e) a licensee within the meaning of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act whose licence authorizes a patron to consume liquor in the service area under the licence, respecting the licensee’s role as a licensee in the sale or service of liquor to a patron;
(f) a person whose use or operation of a vehicle
(i) caused bodily injury, and
(ii) results in the person’s conviction of a prescribed Criminal Code offence;
(g) a person in a prescribed class of persons.
(3) Despite the Negligence Act, in an action referred to in subsection (2) of this section, if 2 or more persons are responsible for bodily injury, they are liable to the person who sustained the bodily injury for any damages awarded for that bodily injury in the degree to which they are respectively responsible, and are not liable to make contribution to and indemnify each other respecting that liability or any payment made in relation to it.
(4) Despite any other law or enactment, in an action referred to in subsection (2) (f), a person who would, but for this subsection, be vicariously liable for the use or operation referred to in subsection (2) (f) is absolved from that vicarious liability.
(5) Despite subsection (2), section 115 applies to an action or proceeding described in subsection (2) of this section commenced or maintained by a voluntary occupant.
(6) Section 83 does not apply to an action referred to in subsection (2) of this section.

Conclusion

ICBC's new No-Fault Insurance model has both pros and cons. While the "Enhanced Care" model has resulted in savings in insurance costs for many, there are others who feel they are paying the cost or have experienced gaps in the new No-Fault system. Many are against these changes, like those at the No to No Fault campaign.

Whatever your opinion is, if you've been injured in a car accident in BC, there is a good chance that ICBC's new No-Fault model will affect you. As always, we at Lawggle recommend reaching out to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury for advice.

Injured in Ontario? Check out another of our recent Blawg posts: The Accident Benefits System in Ontario: Explained!
Author
Kaitlin Pierce

Litigation Lawyer at Hammerco Lawyers LLP