Accelerated Depreciation Claims

When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, which is not your fault, and significant repairs have to be done on the vehicle, we all know that this might impact your ability to sell your vehicle down the road because prospective purchasers are often cautious about buying a vehicle that has been involved in a significant accident.

If you have to accept less money when selling your vehicle because it was involved in an accident, you have suffered a loss called “accelerated depreciation”.

Unfortunately, ICBC has taken the view that they will not compensate anyone for accelerated depreciation claims except in very rare circumstances. The policy reason behind this is obvious. If ICBC paid everyone for accelerated depreciation the amount of compensation paid out to individuals involved in accidents would skyrocket because pretty well everyone involved in more than just a minor accident and who is not at fault for the accident, would make a claim. There are a few instances where accelerated depreciation claims have gone to Court but the frequency of such litigated claims is relatively limited. Generally speaking, the Court is not going to award any damages for accelerated depreciation unless there is direct evidence supporting an actual loss suffered by the owner of the damaged vehicle.

In order to establish an accelerated depreciation claim, one must show that he/she actually sold or is in the process of selling the damaged vehicle at a reduced amount. The fact that you may sell your vehicle in the future would not carry the day in Court.

You will also require an expert opinion to prove an accelerated depreciation claim. This opinion will say that the existence of the damage to the vehicle has resulted in a lower selling value for the vehicle. Alternatively, direct evidence on this point may carry the day in Court. An example of the direct evidence would be testimony from the purchaser who said he/she paid less because of the previous damage to the vehicle.

In summary, if you want to pursue an accelerated depreciation claim, ICBC is almost inviting you to proceed to trial on this point because of their policy not to pay such claims. You must have very strong direct evidence supporting a loss. In most cases, proving such loss is very difficult.

The fact that these losses are generally less than $10,000 makes it uneconomical to hire a lawyer. If you want to pursue this type of claim and believe you have direct evidence to prove a loss, you can always pursue the claim on your own in Small Claims Court. ICBC will likely hire a lawyer to fight you, however.