February 11, 2015 9:29 pm
Updated: February 14, 2015 7:50 pm

Cyclist gets hit with big bill from insurance company following crash

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WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton man got a shock after he crashed his bicycle into a vehicle. Eric Szeto explains.

EDMONTON — An Edmonton man has a warning for cyclists after he crashed his bicycle into a vehicle and received a massive bill in the mail from an insurance company.

Rylan Kafara was cycling in the city’s northeast in September 2013 when he pulled up to a red light. He says another cyclist cut across the road and distracted him. Kafara ended up hitting an SUV. Kafara’s injuries kept him off his feet for months.

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Half a year later, he was shocked to receive a $6,200 bill from Wawanesa Insurance. The company also threatened to suspend his driver’s license if he didn’t pay up.

“I was hooped completely. And it’s a big worry that this could happen to somebody right now.”

According to the Traffic Safety Act, a driver’s license can be suspended if a person does not pay a judgement from a vehicle accident. But it only applies when it comes to motor vehicles. In this case, it’s not clear whether a bicycle falls under that category.

The legal experts Global News spoke to admit this situation is quite uncommon.

“It’s unusual for me to see these kinds of claims for these amounts, let alone against a cyclist,” said personal injury lawyer Sivan Tumarkin.

“I think in situations where they’re going after someone or they’re writing a letter, particularly when it’s coming from an insurance company lawyer, they’re banking on the person receiving it being frightened and at the very least entering into some kind of settlement arrangement.”

The best way to protect yourself, according to experts, is to have some kind of liability insurance.

“You just don’t know what could happen,” said personal injury lawyer Rick Mallett. “The insurance isn’t overly expensive. And you can get it through your homeowner’s or tenant’s coverage. What you want is personal liability coverage that’s not motor-vehicle related.”

Mallett added that sometimes your credit card might provide liability coverage.

Kafara says he plans to fight this, but is warning others about his story: fork up a little cash now and save yourself a lot of trouble later.

A crowd-funding effort has started in hopes of saving Kafara from the bill.

Global News contacted Wawanesa Insurance on Wednesday. No one was available to comment.

With files from Eric Szeto, Global News

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