Insurance Benefits and Compensation for Accident Victims (No. 185)
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This script explains motor vehicle insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (called ICBC), plus insurance benefits and other payments for people injured in a motor vehicle accident. For information on insurance payments for vehicle damage, check script 186 on “Making a Vehicle Damage Claim”.
- 1 Types of insurance
- 1.1 ICBC vehicle insurance is mandatory
- 1.2 Autoplan includes basic third-party legal liability insurance of $200,000
- 1.3 You can buy more than the basic $200,000 insurance
- 1.4 Autoplan includes under-insured motorist protection
- 1.5 Autoplan includes protection against hit-and-run accidents
- 1.6 You can lose your insurance if you break the law
- 2 Benefits (compensation) if you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident
- 2.1 1. No-fault accident benefits
- 2.2 2. Damages for losses caused by someone’s negligence
- 3 Summary
Types of insurance
ICBC vehicle insurance is mandatory
Everyone who owns a motor vehicle in BC must have basic vehicle insurance, called Autoplan, from ICBC. You can buy more insurance than Autoplan’s basic insurance—from ICBC or a private insurance company. Autoplan agents can give you the options.
Autoplan includes basic third-party legal liability insurance of $200,000
If you injure someone or damage their vehicle in an accident, your third-party legal liability insurance will pay their claim up to the limit of your insurance. The minimum third-party legal liability insurance you must have is $200,000. This insurance will also pay for most of the legal and investigative costs.
You can buy more than the basic $200,000 insurance
Courts often award much more money (called compensation or damages) than $200,000 – sometimes $1 million or more – especially if the victim was seriously injured. You can buy much more insurance than $200,000—up to several million dollars and most people do. You can buy this extra insurance from ICBC or from a private insurance company. Buying more than the basic insurance is even more important if you drive to the United States because accident costs (especially medical) can be much higher there.
If you have only the basic $200,000 insurance, and someone you injure sues you for more, you may have to pay the rest. That can be a financial disaster for you.
Autoplan includes under-insured motorist protection
Basic Autoplan includes under-insured motorist insurance up to $1 million. For example, you are hurt in an accident that is the other driver’s fault, and the other driver has only the basic $200,000 insurance. But ICBC decides your claim is worth $800,000. What happens? ICBC will pay your full $800,000 claim through your under-insured motorist protection.
You can increase the under-insured motorist protection with ICBC from $1 million to $2 million.
Autoplan includes protection against hit-and-run accidents
All BC residents—even if they do not own a vehicle—are insured up to $200,000 by Autoplan if a hit-and-run driver kills or injures them.
You can lose your insurance if you break the law
Be careful not to lose your insurance by driving while you’re prohibited or your license is suspended or committing a crime while driving. In these cases, your third-party legal liability insurance may not cover you, and you may have to pay for any damage or injury you cause in an accident.
Benefits (compensation) if you’re hurt in a motor vehicle accident
There are two main types of benefits:
- no-fault accident benefits
- damages (payment) for losses caused by someone’s negligence
1. No-fault accident benefits
When can you get them?
ICBC pays no-fault accident benefits to all injured drivers and passengers of any vehicle licensed and insured in BC, as long as those people have met the insurance conditions. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident. You can apply for benefits if the accident occurred in BC, elsewhere in Canada or in the United States. You may also get benefits if the vehicle wasn’t insured in BC: for example, if you were hurt as a passenger in an out-of-province vehicle, but you had a BC driver’s license.
If you are a BC resident who is hurt in an accident in Canada as a pedestrian or cyclist, you can get accident benefits if you have basic ICBC insurance or a BC driver’s license, or if you live with someone who has basic ICBC insurance or a BC driver’s license.
You have to meet the conditions of the insurance to get accident benefits. For example, if you were injured while driving without a valid driver’s license, or crashing your car in a suicide attempt, or racing or in a speed test, ICBC will not pay you any accident benefits.
What no-fault accident benefits can you receive?
Accident benefits include the following amounts:
- funeral expenses up to $2,500 and some death benefits.
- rehabilitation and reasonable medical expenses (including chiropractic expenses and nursing attendant care) up to $150,000.
- income replacement payments.
- homemaker benefits.
How much are the income replacement and homemaker benefits?
Income replacement benefits—you can receive weekly disability payments if you were employed (working) before the accident, but have been totally disabled and unable to work since. You get 75% of your gross weekly earnings (minus any weekly total wage loss payments from other sources) or $300 a week, whichever is less. ICBC considers you employed if you worked any 6 of the 12 months before the accident.
Homemaker benefits—if you stayed home and looked after your family and home, you can get up to $145 a week in homemaker benefits. But your injury must substantially or continuously stop you from regularly performing most household tasks.
Income replacement and homemaker benefits aren’t paid for the first week. They start on the eighth day after the accident. They continue for as long as your disability lasts or until you turn 65, whichever is first. But ICBC can review your eligibility for these benefits each year.
You must apply for other benefits first
If you have other benefits like employment insurance, workers compensation or a private disability plan through your job, you must apply for these other benefits first. And ICBC will subtract these other benefits from the accident benefits it pays you.
Accident benefits are limited
Accident benefits only provide limited coverage. They’re not designed to pay you for all the losses you may suffer from an accident, especially if you were seriously injured. So you may also be entitled to payment or damages for losses caused by the negligence of others, explained in the next section.
2. Damages for losses caused by someone’s negligence
If someone else was legally at fault for the accident—even partly—then you can be paid for at least some of your losses from the accident. For example, you could get payment for the clothes you were wearing that were ruined in the accident. You could also get fully paid for the loss of your future earnings if you can’t work because of the accident. Also, you may be paid compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused you.
You cannot collect twice for the same accident
Because you cannot collect twice for the same loss, ICBC will subtract the accident benefits you receive from any damages (or compensation) that you receive for someone’s negligence. On the other hand, employment insurance and private disability benefits are not normally subtracted from damages, except in hit-and-run cases and some other situations.
Basic Autoplan insurance will pay for motor vehicle claims against you up to $200,000. But it’s a good idea to buy more insurance—for both third-party legal liability and under-insured motorist protection. If you’re hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to certain ICBC accident benefits. If your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, you may also be paid for all your expenses directly related to the accident, plus damages for your other losses. But ICBC will subtract the accident benefits from the total damages you receive.
[updated June 2014]
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