B.C.’s premier says safeguards are in place to protect the public as they engage with the province’s no-fault insurance system.
David Eby made the comments in response to a Global News question Thursday related to the case of a Vancouver woman who alleges ICBC has been fighting her over medical expenses and income replacement for nine months.
“We knew that when we shifted to the new model of a care based model where the focus was on rehabilitation and treatment and support for people to get better as opposed to compensation for lawyers and years long court processes, that there would be challenges that would come up, so we put in place a number of safeguard levels,” Eby said.
Those safeguards, according to Eby, are a strengthened ICBC ombudsperson office to hear complaints, and the Civil Resolution Tribunal, where people can challenge ICBC decisions.
“That accountability is really important and certainly we’re going to have cases come up where people are challenging ICBC decisions and ICBC decisions will be overturned,” he said.
“In fact, that’s happened on a number of occasions already at the Civil resolution Tribunal.”
Those safeguards, however, have proved little comfort for Tashia Wong, who alleges ICBC has denied necessary medical, prescription and counselling claims, and has significantly undercalculated the income replacement support she should be getting.
Wong is living with severe neck and back pain and a brain injury that has left her with short-term memory loss and light and sound sensitivity, after another driver ran a stop sign and totaled her car in May.
She said she’s been made to re-submit the same paperwork over and over again, saying ICBC have fought her over things like changing counsellors or travel to her preferred doctor.
“They haven’t paid any mileage, but they’ll also be be like, ‘Oh, why is this doctor so far away?’ And I’m like, okay…but I have a history with this doctor. This is my GP,” she said.
“It’s a full-time job just dealing with them. And I just need the money now … I’ve been incredibly conscientious and meticulous about everything.”
ICBC’s no-fault system, which the insurer calls “Enhanced Care,” took effect in May 2021 and was spearheaded by Eby in his previous cabinet role. Under the program, people injured in collisions are eligible for up to $7.5 million in medical and rehabilitation benefits, along with 90 per cent coverage of lost income, up to $105,500.
Under the change, crash victims lost the power to sue an at-fault driver for compensation.
ICBC refused an on-camera interview with Global News on Friday to discuss Wong’s case, but in a Thursday statement said it had covered 100 appointments for treatment and paid her $4,190 in income replacement since May.
The statement added ICBC is committed to Wong’s file, but also stated that because Wong can only communicate by email, “it’s been challenging to get all of the details, updates and receipts needed from the customer.”
But Wong has since provided meticulous documentation to the contrary: months of claims, receipts, doctor’s notes, carefully logged mileage and correspondence with the public insurer which seem to refute what ICBC told Global News.
Eby, meanwhile, maintains the new model offers British Columbians the best value for money.
“We’ll have to continue to refine, but the good news for British Columbians is we have some of the best benefits in the country, some of the lowest rates in the country,” the premier said.
“Our public auto insurer is breaking even and we were able to guarantee freeze on car insurance rates for the next two years.”