ICBC benefits double to better support crash victims

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David Eby
David Eby

VICTORIA – People injured in a traffic crash on or after Jan. 1, 2018, are now eligible for up to $300,000 from ICBC toward their medical care and recovery, up from a previous maximum of $150,000.

This improvement will help the 35 British Columbians on average each year who are catastrophically injured in crashes, and face lifetime care expenses that would have exceeded the previous limit. In addition to wage loss and medical appointments, accident benefits can cover extraordinary supports, such as home care, wheelchairs and vehicle upgrades for accessibility.

“This is the first major improvement to ICBC’s accident benefits in more than 25 years, made possible by reining in out-of-control legal and other costs, which will also put ICBC on the road to fiscal sustainability,” said Attorney General David Eby. “We’re shifting the focus to a care-focused insurance system – one that makes taking care of people injured in a crash the top priority, with more money for the treatments and support they need to get better, and firm control on legal and autobody repair costs.”

“The doubling of benefits to $300,000 means those facing severe injuries will be able to live with dignity,” said Lorraine Tran, who was catastrophically injured in a collision with a moose. “When I was injured, I knew the $150,000 wasn’t going to last. A wheelchair, a suitable van and a bed are just basic, initial necessities.”

“Disability Alliance BC (DABC) has been advocating for improvements to accident benefits for 12 years,” said Jane Dyson, DABC executive director. “The doubling of the overall allowance for medical care and recovery is a significant improvement, and we welcome these long overdue changes, which will mean that people who are catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents have better supports available to help them rebuild their lives. We are very happy to know that the regulations governing this important change have been completed.”

Additional improvements are planned for April 1, 2019.

Quick Facts:

* The previous limit of $150,000 for medical care and recovery expenses was set in 1991.

* Accident benefits are available to anyone injured in a crash, regardless of who is at fault.

* Effective April 1, 2019, when cost-saving reforms around the resolutions of minor injury claims come into force, additional improvements to ICBC accident benefits will include:
* Wage loss payments for customers injured and unable to work will increase to $740 per week from $300 – up 147%.

* Benefits to help with household tasks like cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping will increase to $280 per week from $145 – up 93%.

* The funeral cost benefit will increase 200%, to $7,500 from $2,500.

* Death benefits, which include payments to surviving family members, will rise to $30,000 from $18,000.

* These changes, along with a limit on payouts for pain and suffering for minor injuries and use of the Civil Resolution Tribunal, will enable not just these benefit improvements, but are also expected to reduce ICBC’s claim costs by more than $1 billion per year.

* These changes help address the massive growth in injury costs in B.C., which rose by 80% between 2009 and 2016, to $2.7 billion from $1.5 billion.