By preparing the course at icbctips.ca and writing this blog, I hope to accomplish the following:
- To provide a resource where the majority of people making a claim against ICBC can get information and strategies from an impartial source, instead of ICBC.
- To educate people on the usefulness of seeing a lawyer well in advance of settling a claim with ICBC. I personally do not take on as clients most the people who see me, but rather give them summary advice about how to settle their claim. Most lawyers I know who do ICBC work say the same thing.
- Educate claimants with lawyers as to the issues that arise in a personal injury claim such that they better understand the work their lawyer is doing for them.
- To get compensated by providing this information by having people pay for the course and information available at icbctips.ca.
I came up with this BLOG and the associated course at icbctips.ca to assist the vast majority of claimants against ICBC who chose to resolve their case without lawyers.
Let me tell you why I decided to assist people in settling their own claims against ICBC.
I checked out ICBC’s website at ICBC.com. I looked at their annual report for 2008, as that was the most current information available. ICBC’s 2008 annual report indicates that in 2008, ICBC paid out about 2.6 billion dollars ($2,646,191,000) to claimants or third parties on behalf of claimants. I expect these third parties to be lawyers, body shops, medical practitioners and the like.
Their annual report indicates that for 2008 there were nearly one million (964,000) claims. This works out to a cost per claim of about $2,600. Since that time, the number of claims have dropped though most claims as still resolved without lawyers.
The annual report indicates that about sixty percent of the claims involve bodily injury. So we can estimate the number of people making claims for bodily injury against ICBC as being around 600,000. The figures for 2007 look about the same.
When ICBC was accused of influencing juries in 2009, In their public relations campaign to downplay the seriousness of this, they indicated that lawyers were representing about 23,000 claimants or less than 4% of people making bodily injury claims against ICBC.
So what does all this mean?
Well, firstly the amount paid out per claim looks low at $2,600. It is apparent that most the claims must be much lower as it’s very likely that most the money is going to the 23,000 claimants represented by lawyers. Most lawyers who do ICBC personal injury claims don’t take any claims if the value of the claim is less than $20,000.
Secondly, it appears that the people influencing and educating claimants are not lawyers, but rather adjusters working for ICBC. In another blog, I will talk about why I think ICBC adjusters are in a conflict of interest with the claimants. In their collective agreement, they’re entitled to a share of the profits ICBC makes. (see page 175 of the collective agreement at http://www.cceabc.com/docs/collective_agreements/ICBC_COPE_local378.pdf.) So the more that is paid to you, the less money that will be available for bonuses. There is an issue as to whether or not adjusters are there to help the claimant as opposed to the person who caused the accident, or to protect ICBC itself. One of my blogs explains why ICBC is not there to act in your interest.
Thirdly, with the amount per claim being so low, it appears that people are likely not receiving all that they are entitled to. When looking at ICBC’s policy manuals and from hearing what adjusters tell individual claimants, they often refuse to pay for all the losses suffered. ICBC sets their rates based on how much money they think they have to pay out on future cases. They are definitely making high estimates, given how much of their profits they’ve paid back to the provincial government.
ICBC adjusters regularly discourage claimants from going to lawyers, yet they do not tell claimants all that they’re entitled to. This is discussed in the blog linked here.
In many instances, people have come to me and been offered to settle their claim for $2,000 or $3,000. By suggesting they give the adjuster further information on some items, and simply ask for other items, the amount they received jumped hundreds or thousands of dollars. Information has value.
If you are looking for other information on the web, you should looke at the article I wrote on resources available on the web.