Dealing with More than One Insurance Company

ICBC has a monopoly on basic insurance coverage

ICBC has a monopoly on basic insurance coverage meaning that they are usually involved in almost every motor vehicle accident case out of British Columbia.  The basic insurance includes $200,000 Third Party liability coverage and includes a duty to defend a claim. However, on occasion, a non-ICBC insurance company will be required to step in and help defend the claim.

In recent years, British Columbians have been purchasing excess Third Party liability coverage from non-ICBC insurance companies.  Generally, you will never find out that the at-fault driver has excess Third Party liability coverage with another insurance company unless you have a serious injury, which could be worth more than $200,000. The reason being, ICBC pays out the first $200,000 of coverage and defends the claim with their appointed lawyer.

In a serious injury claim that could be worth more than $200,000, the non-ICBC insurance company will want to be involved in making decisions on settlement and on the defense.  The involvement of the non-ICBC insurance company generally does not affect your claim except ICBC tends to be more careful in defending the claim when they have another insurance company looking over their shoulders. Also, you have the potential of one or more of the insurance companies playing hardball against you.

If you are the driver responsible for the accident and you have collision coverage and excess Third-Party liability coverage with a non-ICBC insurance company, you will have to involve the non-ICBC insurance company with the vehicle repair issues along with any injury or damage claim that is being advanced against you.

Non-ICBC insurance companies can also become involved in accident claims where a motor vehicle is driven into the Province from either the United States or from another Province.  The biggest problem you will face is that the non-ICBC insurance companies from outside British Columbia, who have to pay the claim, tend to ignore the claim unless pushed by the claimant Also, British Columbia has a unique injury compensation scheme which is very restrictive in some areas and generous in other areas so the non-ICBC insurance companies may not have the necessary understanding of the British Columbia system and often tries to resist payment of unfamiliar parts of the ICBC compensation scheme.

If the at-fault vehicle is from out of Province and hence, insured by a non-ICBC insurance company, it can cause problems with respect to compensation. This is because you will have to seek compensation from ICBC for Part VII benefits and, compensation from the non-ICBC insurance company for your injury/tort claim.  Invariably, the two insurance companies try to point fingers at each other to minimize payments hoping the other insurance company will pay.

Another common problem with non-ICBC insurance companies is the insurer often completely ignores the claim forcing the injured British Columbian to hire a lawyer to get the insurer’s attention.

In summary, whenever another insurance company is involved in the claim, it usually makes the claim more complicated largely because of the interplay between ICBC and the other insurance company.


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