If you, or your family and friends, were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should be aware that the government of British Columbia is in the process of making significant changes to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). While the amendments will come into force on April 1, 2019, some provisions will be applied retroactively to January 1, 2018. The impetus for these changes is the crippling loss of $1.3 billion that ICBC is projecting to incur for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Minor injuries have clogged up the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which has led to an increase in legal fees and costs for ICBC. This is because represented claims take longer to settle. However, the new legislative changes are intended to save ICBC approximately $1 billion per year. To learn more from ICBC why these changes are necessary click here.
Now the Insurance (Vehicle) Act (the “IVA”) is in its first reading at the Legislative Assembly. Some of the significant changes to the IVA are as follows:
- New health care report requirements. Health care practitioners will be required to include the nature and extent of the injured person’s injuries; the injured person’s diagnosis; the injured person’s condition at the time health care was provided; the treatment provided or recommended by a health care practitioner; and the injured person’s prognosis to the extent that the information is known by the health care practitioner.
- Definition of a “minor injury.” A “minor injury” will be defined as a physical or mental injury, whether or not chronic, such as an abrasion, a contusion, a laceration, a sprain or a strain, a pain syndrome, a psychological or psychiatric condition or a prescribed injury or an injury in a prescribed type or class of injury. Should a claimant not seek a diagnosis or comply with treatment and a minor injury manifests itself into a serious impairment, permanent serious disfigurement, or develops into an injury that is not a “minor injury”, such injury will not be considered as a minor injury. The claimant will need to prove that such injury would have resulted even if the claimant had sought diagnosis and complied with treatment.
- Premiums. The act sets out more detailed criteria on which a premium for a certificate, other than a driver’s certificate, and a premium for a driver’s certificate may be based.
- Health care loss. There will be limits on the cost or expense incurred or to be incurred for health care provided by a health care practitioner.
- Non-pecuniary loss. Non-pecuniary damages, or compensation for pain and suffering, will be calculated in accordance with regulations. The amount will be further reduced in proportion to a claimant’s contributory negligence, if applicable.
The B.C. government is still in the process of revamping legislation affecting ICBC and these are just some of the changes that lawmakers have drafted. More changes are still to come, and Bill 22 – Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act is another piece of legislation to keep an eye out for. This is the new dispute resolution process, which will deal directly with minor injury claims.
If you further questions regarding the changes to the insurance system in British Columbia, please fill out our free consultation form.