ICBC Uninsured Motorist Claims and the Health Care Costs Recovery Act
Further to my previous posts on the Health Care Costs Recovery Act, I recently had the opportunity to scrutinize the Act’s application to Uninsured Motorist Claims under Section 20 of the BC Insurance (Vehicle) Act. It was a a bit of a lengthy exercise so I thought I would share my findings for the benefit of anyone else researching this topic.
A representative of the Government familiar with the HCCRA told me that the BC Government’s initial position when the HCCRA came into force was that it applied to BC Car Crash cases where the Defendant is uninsured and in cases where the Defendant is in breach of their insurance. In my recent experience suing Defendants who were in breach of their insurance the Government required notice about the claim but did not require recovery of health care costs. (Please note I am not speaking on behalf of the BC Government here, I am simply highlighting my past experiences with this act, so if you are prosecuting such a claim please satisfy yourself whether or not the Act applies).
Where a Defendant is Uninsured at the time of the crash (as opposed to in breach of their insurance) the HCCRA appears to apply at first glance.
Section 24 of the Health Care Costs Recovery Act holds in part that:
(1) Subject to this section, this Act applies in relation to any personal injury suffered by a beneficiary, whether before or after this subsection comes into force….
(3) This Act does not apply in relation to health care services that are provided or are to be provided to a beneficiary in relation to
(a) personal injury or death arising out of a wrongdoer’s use or operation of a motor vehicle if the wrongdoer has, when the injury is caused, coverage under the plan, as those terms are defined in the Insurance (Vehicle) Act,
So on strict reading the HCCRA appears to apply to BC Car Crash Cases where a Defendant motorist is uninsured because in these circumstances the “wrongdoer” does not have “coverage under the plan“. If a Plaintiff sues a Defendant in these circumstances the Government’s claim arguably should be advanced. Practically speaking, however, Plaintiff’s rarely recover anything from Uninsured Defendants and instead take advantage of the Benefit available under section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
Specifically, Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act permits people injured by Uninsured Motorists in BC to apply to ICBC for ‘payment of damages to which he or she claims to be entitled to’.
If you dig a little deeper ICBC appears to be under no obligation to pay HCCRA damages in a settlement or judgement in Section 20 Claims because of the Deductions set out in section 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation which holds that “No amount shall be paid by (ICBC) under section 20…of the Act in respect of that part of a claim that is paid or payable as an insured claim“.
For the purpose of s. 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation “insured claim” means “any benefit, compensation similar to benefits, right to indemnity or claim to indemnity accruing to a person entitled to benefits, compensation or indemnity...”
It is hard to imagine a successful argument holding that the right to Government Paid Health Care under MSP is not a ‘benefit‘ as used in the above definition of ‘insured claim‘. So, in summary, while the Health Care Costs Recovery Act appears to be triggered in tort claims against Uninsured Motorists, ICBC appears to not have to pay any portion of such a claim when a Plaintiff applies for benefits to ICBC under s. 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act because of the deduction they are entitled to under s. 106 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation. Clear as mud folks?