Suing ICBC for Insurance Coverage
The starting point is ICBC has complete control as to the decision on insurance coverage. They do not have to consider the testimony of the driver in their decision. They can use a healthy level of skepticism and conjecture to make their decision without any recourse if they make the wrong decision. Once ICBC makes the decision, the decision is final unless you dispute it. That is, you need to take positive steps to suing ICBC in either small claims court or Supreme Court for insurance coverage. You must do so within a year of the denial. If you do not take positive steps, ICBC’s decision is final and any damages flowing out of their decision will be your responsibility.
Depending on the potential exposure, you have to make a decision whether you want to sue ICBC or simply accept their decision.
For example, if it is a single vehicle accident than the loss to the driver/ owner is there is no coverage for the vehicle damage. In that instance, it may not be worth the legal costs and the general hassle of pursuing ICBC for insurance coverage.
However, if the driver caused an accident to another vehicle then ICBC will be looking to the driver/owner to pay back any damages paid to the other vehicle and its occupants, whether it is a vehicle damage claim or an injury claim. In some instances, the claim by ICBC can be very large, often in the hundred thousand dollar plus range. In this type of situation, it may well be worth pursuing ICBC for insurance coverage because the alternative is to pay them back a very large sum of money.
There is no question that when you are faced with the breach situation and you need to hire a lawyer it’s going to be an expensive endeavor. To make matters worse, the full cost of a lawyer is not something you can claim back from ICBC even if you win. Therefore, it’s a matter of a costbenefit analysis as to whether or not you want to involve a lawyer.
If that was not enough, the Government has placed a rule that in Small Claims Court you cannot seek a declaration so ICBC often tries to stymie due process by arguing that the Small Claims Court has no jurisdiction to consider the insurance breach issue because it’s a declaration of insurance. ICBC tries to force the case to be heard in Supreme Court which necessitates the use of a lawyer and the potential risk of having to pay a portion of ICBC’s legal fees and all their expenses if you lose the case.
These breach cases are also very hard fought by ICBC and they seldom back down even if they are flat-out wrong because they know, due to expense of a lawyer, they have the upper hand.
Ultimately, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis when faced with a breach situation. If the loss is not large, you may wish to walk away from the claim for insurance. If the potential personal financial exposure is very high, especially when there is an injury in the other vehicle, ignoring the breach would be a very bad idea.