Why and how
Enhanced Care is an insurance system that works for all British Columbians. That means insurance that is more affordable and provides the care and coverage you need if you’re in a crash. By removing most of the legal costs associated with our former system, we’re making this a reality for you.
How is this new system different?
We know these changes are a lot to digest. Here’s a helpful side-by-side comparison of the former insurance system and Enhanced Care:
How are these changes possible?
Enhanced Care removes the adversarial approach of suing drivers and the hundreds of millions of dollars going towards lawyers and legal fees every year. As a result, the overall costs of our insurance system are being reduced dramatically. We forecast cost savings at more than $1.5 billion in the first full year of Enhanced Care. These savings will be passed on to British Columbians in the form of lower and more stable insurance rates, with average savings of 20 per cent for full ICBC basic and optional coverage. It also means we can provide much more in care and recovery benefits, to support injured customers when they need it.
Why are we making these changes?
British Columbians deserve auto insurance that is affordable and takes care of them when they are injured in a crash. But until Enhanced Care, insurance rates went up every year, largely because of the rising legal costs involved in our former system. And, our former system often left people without the care they need to fully recover from a crash.
Government and ICBC took steps in 2019 to help bring these costs down and improve care – limiting pain and suffering payouts for minor injuries, doubling accident benefits to $300,000, and introducing the dispute resolution process through the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
Despite these improvements, hundreds of millions per year were still being spent on things like lawyer fees and expert reports, driving up the cost of insurance and creating real affordability challenges for many British Columbians. If we didn’t change the system, by 2022 these costs would have reached approximately $780 million per year.
What if I don't think I'm being treated fairly?
Under the previous system, many customers would get a lawyer for their claim because they found the claims process intimidating or confusing, or because they wanted to make sure they received all the benefits they were entitled to.
We’re taking steps to assure British Columbians they will receive all the benefits they’re entitled to, will be treated fairly, and have options for their disputes.
Under Enhanced Care, ICBC is required, by law, to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and endeavour to ensure that every person is informed about, and receives, all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Appealing an ICBC decision
There are a number of steps you can take with ICBC if you wish to appeal a decision about your claim, such as raising your concern with your claim representative and/or their manager, and then our Claims Decision Review process. If you have exhausted the channels inside ICBC and are still dissatisfied, there are other options – outside of ICBC – you can consider.
A fairness officer will be appointed by government and will have the authority to review and make recommendations to resolve customer complaints about the policy and process ICBC used to make a decision in their case. As well, the officer may make broader recommendations to enhance fair decision-making. The officer will be required to publicly report on the activity of the office each year. The fairness office is expected to be in place later in 2021.
Civil Resolution Tribunal
The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) is a decision-making body independent from ICBC. If you disagree with an aspect of your claim with ICBC such as your entitlement to accident benefits or the fault assessment (when it results in a monetary loss), you may apply to the CRT for dispute resolution.
The CRT is an online tribunal which has been resolving most motor vehicle accident injury disputes since 2019 and small claims disputes since 2017. Costs range from $75 to $200 depending on the type of claim.
The CRT is part of the public justice system. If you can’t reach an agreement with the help of a CRT case manager, a tribunal member will decide your dispute. CRT tribunal members are independent and neutral, and are required to apply the law and make enforceable decisions. If you or ICBC don’t agree with the CRT’s decision, you can ask the B.C. Supreme Court for judicial review of the decision.
Under Enhanced Care, you can still retain a lawyer if you wish to seek legal advice for your claim or have them represent you.
The Office of the Ombudsperson can also help determine whether B.C. provincial and local public authorities have acted fairly and reasonably – and whether their actions and decisions were consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
As an independent statutory office of the provincial legislature, its services are free of charge. Find out more at the Office of the Ombudsperson website.
Are there cases where I can still sue?
Under Enhanced Care coverage, the most dangerous drivers are still held accountable. For example, if you are injured in a crash and the at-fault driver is convicted of certain Criminal Code offences (such as impaired driving), you can still sue the other party in a civil claim for certain damages.
Also, like before, you have the ability to sue some other parties for certain damages if their actions may have contributed to the crash, such as a pub owner or vehicle manufacturers.
Driving outside of B.C.
If you’re injured in a crash anywhere in Canada or the U.S., you’re covered by all the care and recovery benefits under Enhanced Care, regardless of whether you caused the crash. However, you’ll need to remember that when you are driving outside of B.C., you are under the laws and regulations of that jurisdiction. So, if you are in a crash in another province or in an area of the U.S. where taking legal action on your claim is possible, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver there for compensation.
Equally, if you cause a crash in one of those jurisdictions, you may still face the threat of legal action too. That’s why you may want to purchase optional third-party liability coverage, to extend the coverage you receive in your basic insurance and protect yourself when driving out of province. The good news is that this coverage from ICBC now costs much less under Enhanced Care than it did in our old system.
Where else is this type of insurance being used?
Care-based, public auto insurance (often called “no-fault” insurance) already exists in other parts of Canada, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. These provinces have successfully seen lower and more stable rates for years while providing excellent care and recovery benefits. This is possible, in large part, because they haven’t had to cover rising or unpredictable legal costs from year to year, like we have had to in B.C.
Public insurers in other provinces also offer similar care and recovery benefits to B.C.’s Enhanced Care coverage: Saskatchewan’s provides approximately $7 million in care coverage, while Manitoba’s and Quebec’s overall care coverages are unlimited. By comparison, care coverage in private insurance markets is much lower – Alberta’s maximum care allowance, for example, is just $50,000, while some others are even less.