Archive for the ‘How do I start a claim with ICBC or another Insurance Company’ Category

Don’t Take It Personally When Dealing with an Insurer

Adjusters tend to be suspicious of claims; or they appear to be.  Though I do not believe the incidents of fraud as as high as insurance companies would have us believe, some adjusters have later found they have been misled by people making claims.

When dealing with ICBC, or another insurance company, keep in mind that they work for an insurance company; not you. Their first duty is to the insurance company. Their second duty is to the person who caused the accident – to pay out as little as possible on their behalf. They have no duty to you.

To add to this, most adjusters have had an experience where they paid out on a claim, but later find out something, that if they knew prior to paying out, would not of paid out as much, or at all.

What the adjuster is looking for is consistency. Are the medical records from the doctor and other practitioners, the witness statements – friends and employers, the car damage, and the statements given by the claimant all consistent? Do they make sense; are they supported by receipts and other documents?

The degree to which an adjuster checks and confirms facts varies. It is at their discretion and turns on the consistency of the information, and the way you come across. Some people appear straight forward and consistent. Others, through no fault of their own, appear “sketchy” or just don’t come across as accurate or truthful.

If the adjuster finds one inaccuracy, they will assume there are more. Examples are inaccuracies about working or income – working under the table (there will be another blog devoted to this, about treatment or doing exercises, about things you did or didn’t do.)

The most common inaccuracy is, “I can’t”. When people are in pain, they avoid pain by not doing things that make the pain worse. Often it’s not that they couldn’t do it, it’s just that it causes pain and they will pay for days. That’s not, “I can’t” but “if I do, I’ll pay for it later.”

Another common inaccuracy is saying “never” or “always.” ie I never had a headache before this accident. Even if true, that seems unlikely. If there is any evidence of just one headache, even ten years ago, you just lied.

The adjuster could come across as cold, disbelieving or even condescending. The best way to deal with this is to have as much supporting documentation as possible. Keep a diary setting out what you went through, what you missed and a list of your appointments. Obtain and keep receipts.

Though a claim against an insurer is very personal and about you, try to not take it personally.

Collisions with Animals

Imagine driving at night and a deer jumps out of nowhere. The creature comes through the windshield and causes injury.

You are the passenger and say to the police or to an adjuster that there’s nothing the driver could have done – it’s no one’s fault. The adjuster at ICBC says you don’t have a claim. She sarcastically says,

“Who can you sue, the deer?”

You will be told if it’s one hundred percent the fault of the animal, you don’t have a claim. My suggestion is to consult with a lawyer experienced in ICBC cases before making any statements or claims to ICBC or any other party.

Numerous clients have described and told me they experienced the scenario set out above. Is it true that you don’t have a case? It may be but…

When I come across someone in this scenario, I want to know a lot more details. I want to know how the collision happened second by second. I want to know all the details leading up to the collision. Did the passenger see the animal sooner than the driver? Was the driver going too fast? Was the driver not paying attention?

What I am looking for is someone besides my client (usually the driver) who is even partially at fault. Was the driver blinded by an oncoming vehicle with high beams on? Even if a person is one percent at fault, this person is fully liable and ICBC or their insurance company has to pay out damages on their behalf.

Another concern is what statements have been made to ICBC. Very often, the injured passenger has given a statement where they say something to the effect that the driver was not at fault. Sometimes that’s said as the conduct was very minor or the injured party doesn’t want to say bad things about the driver and they don’t know this statement will be used to deny the claim.

If you’re the driver, chances are you don’t have a claim as it’s the fault of the deer and maybe yourself. A passenger may have a claim. This is a situation where you want to speak to a lawyer prior to giving a statement. If you have given a statement, the lawyer will need to see the exact wording prior to giving an opinion.