Today ICBC and the BC Attorney General were publicly boasting about how new laws are ‘doubling benefits’ to accident victims.
This soundbite is technically true but also profoundly deceptive.
As part of the BC Government’s so-called ‘reforms’ of the BC auto insurance landscape they have doubled ‘no-fault’ medical and rehabilitation benefits from $150,000 to $300,000.
Why is this deceptive? Because the soundbite is designed to persuade the public that their rights are being increased if they are involved in a collision when the polar opposite is true. While the ceiling of no-fault benefits are technically increased for everybody only a sliver of the population will ever access these. How few people? According to BC’s Attorney General only 40 people per year. 40!
You don’t have to take my word for it. Here is Attorney General David Eby’s response when questioned in the legislature about this benefit increase:
Lee: Just before we leave section 18, I recollect from our last committee session on this particular section that the Attorney General referred to the increase, of course, of accident benefits coverage from $150,000 lifetime to $300,000 lifetime. I’d just like the Attorney General to indicate how many instances there have been where a person’s lifetime level of $150,000 has been exceeded.
Hon. D. Eby: There are about 40 every year
Now there is nothing wrong with 40 collision victims having increased benefits. That is fine. They are catastrophically injured and need the help. But it is coming with a cost. Every single collision victim in BC is having their rights stripped as part of this trade off. EVERY British Columbian injured by an impaired, distracted or otherwise negligent driver is actually having their rights stripped. The legal changes ICBC lobbied for and the government passed include
- Labeling all mental health conditions following a collision as “minor”
- Giving ICBC immunity from the courts when they cut people off from benefits
- Limiting people with psychiatric conditions from a crash to challenge ICBC decisions in a tribunal that is designed to be unfair with an arbitrator appointed by the same Ministry in charge of ICBC
- Give ICBC Control of your health care options following a crash by taking away the rights of collision victims to recover all reasonable treatment costs
The Government says they are only stripping the rights of collision victims with ‘minor’ injuries but the devil is in the details. Included in ICBC definition of ‘minor’ are
- Chronic Depression
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Conversion Disorders
- Chronic Pain Syndromes
- Chronic physical injuries
- Disabling physical injuries
- All psychological “conditions”
- All psychiatric “conditions”
If the Government thinks its good policy to strip people’s rights so be it. But don’t give us garbage and call it a gift.