Insurance Benefits and Compensation for Accident Victims (Script 185)

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

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”.

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 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, say you are hurt in an accident that is the other driver’s fault, and that 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:

  1. no-fault accident benefits
  2. damages (payment) for losses if another person was at fault

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 must 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.

The amounts of benefits described below are changing in 2019, as this ICBC factsheet explains.

What no-fault accident benefits can you receive?

Accident benefits include the following amounts:

  • funeral expenses up to $2,500 (up to $7,500 starting in April 2019) and death benefits ranging from $17,580 to $20,080 (up to $30,000 starting in April 2019).
  • rehabilitation and reasonable medical expenses (including chiropractic expenses and nursing attendant care) up to $300,000.
  • 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 currently and $740 a week starting in April 2019, 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 (up to $280 a week starting in April 2019). 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 8th 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 if another person was at fault

If you were not at fault—if another person was legally at fault for (or caused) the accident—even partly—then you can be paid for at least some of your losses from the accident. For example, you could be paid for the clothes you were wearing that were ruined in the accident. You could also be fully paid for the loss of your future earnings if you can’t work because of the accident. Also, you may be paid for the pain and suffering the accident caused you, but the limit for pain and suffering from minor accidents will be $5,500 starting in April 2019.

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.


You can appeal ICBC’s decisions to deny your claim and its decisions on how much to offer you, who is at fault, and how to handle your claim.


Basic Autoplan insurance will pay for motor vehicle claims against you up to $200,000. But it’s good 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.

More information

[updated May 2018]

The above was last edited by John Blois.

© Copyright 2018, Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch. Dial-A-Law is a registered trademark owned by Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, a non-profit membership corporation.

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