B.C. government creates ICBC ‘Fairness Office’ in effort to restore trust in public insurer

Attorney General David Eby speaks to reporters on November 20, 2019. Richard Zussman/Global News

The provincial government will be creating a “Fairness Office’ in order to improve transparency and accountability at the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC).

“British Columbians should have the peace of mind that they will be treated fairly after they’ve been injured in a crash,” Eby said.

“With this change, British Columbians can have confidence that the Fairness Office has greater independence from ICBC and has the impartial authority to review the fairness of their situation with the ability to make recommendations to ICBC.”

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Attorney General David Eby announced the office on Wednesday as part of a promise to British Columbians to improve “accessibility” to the public insurer.

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The office, which will be independent from ICBC’s claims arm, will make public the type and number of issues it hears, along with recommendations to ICBC.

ICBC will also be required to report publicly on actions it takes to respond to these recommendations.

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“I think it’s no secret that many British Columbians simply don’t trust ICBC and that is a problem,” Eby said.

The new office will be in place by Spring 2021. The fairness officer will be appointed by cabinet.

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The Civil Resolution Tribunal will continue to resolve ICBC disputes involving claims of $50,000 and under, separate from the courts and ICBC.

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“Each of our three million customers should have confidence in knowing that they’ll be treated fairly when they deal with us, and we welcome the Fairness Office to assist in that regard,” ICBC CEO Nicolas Jimenez said.

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“British Columbians must also have the opportunity to tell us directly about how ICBC can be improved, and I believe today’s changes will give our customers confidence in knowing that when they speak up, ICBC will be listening and accountable to them.”

ICBC has been widely criticized for providing annual reports that are hard to understand and lack transparency.

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To fix that issue, Eby has announced the public insurer must now produce a “customer-friendly summary” of its annual report, so the public can see how their premium dollars are spent.

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The province is also mandating ICBC improves online services for booking road tests.

For those who are injured and qualify, ICBC will offer pre-litigation payments up front without the need to waive the ability to sue if they so choose.

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Previously, if a person decided to take ICBC’s settlement, they had to agree to not seek additional settlement money through the courts.

Eby says this change could help those injured keep more of their settlement, as legal fees can total as much as 33 per cent of the total settlement.

“I hope it gives people peace of mind that ICBC’s goal is first and foremost to ensure those injured in a crash are properly compensated and cared for,” Eby said.

“We hope this will help build trust for British Columbians who are injured and call for help.”

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