Dealing with Doctors and Therapists
This section provides valuable information about how the interaction with your doctor and therapists affects your ICBC claim. Overall you need to involve them early and often in your injury claim. Also, you will learn how doctors and therapists try to trick you into having an exaggerated claim.
When your motor vehicle is involved in an accident and suffers damage, whether you are at fault or not, dealing with ICBC for the repairs or write-off value is sometimes a difficult process. The following sections provide some helpful input into the process.
Unfortunately, ICBC has the absolute say as to whether your vehicle will be repaired or written off when the vehicle is involved in an accident. When the vehicle suffers significant damage, the owner of the vehicle usually would rather have the vehicle written-off than repaired because often, once your vehicle has been extensively repaired it is not worth as much as if it was not involved in the accident. Also, extensive repairs are seldom perfect, so your vehicle will likely not be back to its pre-accident state following the repairs.
Simply put, ICBC will take the cheapest method possible to address the vehicle damage issue even if it has a negative effect on you. That is why you often see ICBC repairing vehicles for tens of thousands of dollars when they could simply write-off your vehicle for a few thousand dollars more.
ICBC only must repair your vehicle when you have collision coverage and/or where the other party is responsible for the accident. If you are the at-fault party and did not buy collision coverage, ICBC will not repair your vehicle.
When you leave the repair shop, you may have to pay the “collision deductible” if you are at-fault for the accident or ICBC has not determined liability by the time your vehicle is ready for pick up. Reimbursement of the deductible can be a prolonged event if liability is contentious or the other driver is flat out ignoring his/her obligations to report to ICBC. Eventually, if you are not at-fault, you will see a cheque from ICBC in the mail.
If you are partly at fault for the accident, the deductible will depend on the degree of fault. For example, if you are 50% at fault for the accident and the collision deductible is $500, you will have to pay $250 to get your vehicle repaired.
If you have collision coverage and are responsible for the accident, your vehicle may be written off by ICBC if it costs too much to repair it. The same thing applies if you are not responsible for the accident, regardless of whether you have collision coverage.
When your vehicle is written off, in essence you are paid for the fair market value of your vehicle and ICBC gets to receive any money from selling your vehicle for salvage.
ICBC’s decision on repairing versus writing-off your vehicle is an economic one. ICBC will assess the costs and take the cheaper approach.
In the event that your vehicle is written off, ICBC asks you to sign a Salvage Release form, which transfers your vehicle from your name into ICBC’s name. This allows ICBC to sell the vehicle through a salvage auction. The salvage auction process supplies the majority of recycled parts used by the automobile repair industry in B.C. ICBC “pockets” any money they receive from the salvage auction.
ICBC will pay by cheque, the amount that they say is the value less any “collision deductible”, to the registered vehicle owner and any lienholder (i.e. anyone with a financial interest in the vehicle, such as a bank, lease company or repair shop).
ICBC also pays the applicable taxes in total loss settlements. If you are owed HST on your settlement, you will be given a HST voucher. You can use this voucher to reduce the HST payable on a replacement vehicle when purchased or leased through a licensed motor dealer.
In terms of the fair market value of your vehicle, ICBC generally uses a computer program called Autosource. Many people would say that this computer program underestimates the actual value of the vehicle especially if you check out print media or web sites and determine what vehicles are actually going for in your area.
The best way of counteracting ICBC’s valuation is to have your own evidence from print media or web sites to show the price at which similar vehicles are being sold. Also, if you can show that your vehicle is better than the average by way of such things as repair receipts, low kilometers, extra equipment purchases, etc. you will be better able to convince ICBC that your vehicle is worth more than they say.
If you bought ICBC’s Replacement Cost and Limited Depreciation coverage on a new vehicle, the amount you receive for your write off is equivalent to the cost of a replacement vehicle vs. determining the actual fair market value of your vehicle when it was totaled.
In some situations, if you have a specialized vehicle, such as motorcycles or trailers, you actually declare the value of the vehicle when you pay insurance and that value has a large bearing on what ICBC pays if your vehicle is written off.
The principal disputes that arise when dealing with ICBC and your vehicle damage are:
- You and ICBC cannot agree on a fair market value for the repairs to your vehicle;
- You and ICBC disagree on what repairs need to be completed to repair your vehicle so the vehicle is returned to its pre-accident state; and
- What is the fair market price of your vehicle if it is a “write-off”
Note that if you are having issues with the quality of your repairs, those are issues between you and the repair facility not ICBC. Deal with the repair facility directly on workmanship and quality issues.
If you are unhappy with your adjuster’s position on the repairs or the write-off amount you can have the claim reviewed by a material damage supervisor or estimating services manager at ICBC.
If this doesn’t resolve the matter, it must be resolved by way of arbitration. Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution by an independent arbitrator appointed by the parties to the dispute. Either you or ICBC can apply to the ADR Institute of BC to commence the arbitration process. The downside to going forward with arbitration is the cost of the arbitration and any expert you need to retain. Often, it does not make economic sense to go to arbitration over these disputes. Therefore, ICBC ends up winning.
If you head in the direction of arbitration, it is best to hire an appraisal expert that can assist in bringing forward the best case. You can be rest assured that ICBC will have their own expert provide evidence that will back their decision.
When you are involved in a minor collision with another vehicle, the question of whether to involve ICBC to repair the vehicles will often arise in discussions between the parties involved in the accident. Regardless of whether you are the at-fault vehicle or the not at-fault vehicle, the answer is the same. You should involve ICBC.
The first reason to involve ICBC is that it does not cost anything to access ICBC’s resources including its certified repair shops and favorable hourly repair rates. Second, if you do not report the accident to ICBC and try to use the ICBC insurance coverage later you may be unable to pursue ICBC for any recovery, if you are outside the statutory deadlines for filing a claim. As a result, you should report the accident to ICBC regardless of the severity.
The next thing you should do is bring your vehicle in for inspection at the location requested by ICBC which a certified repair shop is or an ICBC claim center. This is a free service and does not commit you to having the vehicle repaired through ICBC.
You may think that it’s cheaper to go to a private collision repair shop and get your vehicle repaired without notifying ICBC. However, unless you know someone at a private collision repair shop who will give you a great deal, chances are that going through ICBC is cheaper. This is because ICBC has negotiated rates for labor charges across the Province, based on volume discounts. Therefore, chances are that the hourly rate ICBC gets is going to be lower than the one you can negotiate privately.
In summary, contrary to what some people feel, whenever you are involved in an accident involving damage to your vehicle, regardless of whether you are at-fault or not, access ICBC’s resources to get the best possible deal for the repairs.
Accelerated Depreciation is an insurance term that covers off the potential loss a claimant suffers when his/her vehicle is damaged by the fault of another motorist and is repaired by ICBC. The loss arises on the presumption that most perspective purchasers will pay less for a previously damaged vehicle than one that has escaped any accidents.
Accelerated Depreciation is best described by way of example. Let’s assume a 2018 Toyota Rav4 worth $40,000 is in an accident caused by another motorist and sustains $15,000 in damage. If the owner chooses to sell the vehicle after it is repaired, the transfer documentation includes a declaration that it has sustained more than $2,000 in damage. This will alert a potential purchaser to the fact that he/she is purchasing “damaged goods”, and therefore, one expects a negative impact on the vehicle’s value.
ICBC has historically been very resistant to these claims. Their reasonable concern is that if these claims are readily acknowledged and paid, the floodgates will open.
ICBC has a good point because most accidents nowadays result in vehicle damage more than the $2,000.00 threshold. Minor fender benders can result in damage exceeding the threshold when in fact, the damage really has no impact on the vehicle itself once repaired. This doesn’t preclude a prospective purchaser from paying less because of the “damaged goods” worry.
ICBC does not advertise the possibility of receiving compensation for Accelerated Depreciation so many motorists that are not at fault for the accidents ultimately do not pursue this claim.
Although ICBC does not publicly acknowledge they will pay out Accelerated Depreciation claims, the trend has been that they will consider paying these claims. One recent case on the topic is Rutter vs Adams where the ICBC insured received an award for Accelerated Depreciation sustained to a Toyota Matrix.
There is no question that many ICBC adjusters continue to deny the Accelerated Depreciation claims but, in some instances, some adjusters have loosened the purse strings and offered compensation rather than forcing a claimant to go to trial on that issue. The elements that are necessary to get an adjuster to pay money for Accelerated Depreciation are:
- Liability is not at issue (i.e. 100% of the fault was assessed on another ICBC insured driver);
- The claimant owns the vehicle and/or is financing the vehicle (not leasing);
- The vehicle does not need to be sold but if it has been sold this helps to solidify the claim; and
- There may or may not have been an injury but bundling the Accelerated Depreciation claim with the injury claim is helpful.
If all or some of the above requirements have been met, the claimant needs to simply inform their adjuster that they will be pursing an Accelerated Depreciation claim. It will be up to the claimant to provide evidence supporting the Accelerated Depreciation claim. The best way of doing that is to retain an independent appraiser.
A customer can expect to pay in the neighbourhood of $200 – $800 plus costs for an appraiser’s researched opinion of the value of the Accelerated Depreciation claim. This expense can include a physical inspection of the vehicle, market research into comparable vehicles and a review of the documentation related to the damage sustained and the corresponding repairs. The expense is usually recoverable from ICBC if you are successful.
Once ICBC has been provided the appraiser’s opinion, ICBC will usually obtain their own independent assessment of the loss.
Overall, there is no set protocol or procedure mandated by ICBC to determine the loss. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of adjusters in ICBC that will not accept an Accelerated Depreciation claim short of a court judgment. However, recent trends would suggest that ICBC is loosening the purse strings when it comes to Accelerated Depreciation.