In an effort to combat climbing auto insurance rates and industry instability, the British Columbia government is implementing a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering, particularly for payouts to vehicle accident victims. This change—along with other accident benefits amendments—will come into force April 1, 2019.
Why are changes being made?
These adjustments come at a time when injury claims, legal costs and car repair costs are at an all-time high in B.C., which has created a serious problem for the province’s auto insurance program. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), a provincial Crown corporation that provides universal auto insurance to B.C. motorists, has suffered in particular and projects a net loss of $1.3 billion for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
What are the changes?
Because B.C. drivers would likely face premium increases of $400 or more if no action was taken, the provincial government stepped in and will implement the following on April 1, 2019:
- A new limit of $5,500 on pain and suffering for minor injury claims. The cost of these claims has increased 265 per cent since 2000, and B.C. is the last province in Canada to take action against rising costs.
- The overall medical care and recovery cost allowance will be doubled to $300,000. This change will be made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, and is meant to protect injured drivers and passengers immediately. What’s more, these accident benefits cover a greater variety of treatment services, meaning claimants won’t have to pay out of pocket. Other accident benefit improvements include the following:
- Wage loss payments more than double to $740 per week
- Home support benefits nearly double to $280 per week
- Funeral cost coverage triples to $7,500
- Death benefits increase to $30,000
In addition to the above, an independent dispute resolution process for certain motor vehicle injury claims will be established. Together, these changes represent the first major improvements in accident benefits in 25 years, dramatically increasing the care available for anyone injured in a crash.
In total, these adjustments are expected to save the ICBC $1 billion a year and combat its recent financial crisis. Further, the government expects these amendments to keep insurance affordable and provide enhanced care for people injured in automobile accidents.
To learn more, visit the ICBC’s website.