British Columbia



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Financial Hardship

It is common for those injured in a MVA to experience financial hardship. Accident benefits paid by ICBC cover less than half of the cost of most treatments, and bills and debts can mount rapidly. When injuries prevent working, a financial crisis can ensue.

However, there are many ways to avoid financial hardship, including the following:

  1. Extended Health Plan – If you have an extended health insurer, you should use it for your treatments (physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy). Since ICBC accident benefits cover less than half of the cost of treatments, extended health coverage for the remainder (‘user fees’) is one of the best ways to avoid financial hardship. However, extended health insurers will seek to recover any payments related to MVA injuries. So it’s important to keep your extended health insurer’s statements and submit them to your lawyer before your case settles. ICBC often reimbursed the health insurer in full.
  2. Free chiropractic care – Registered chiropractors in BC can be paid in advance under ICBC’s “Flat Fee” program. Under this program, ICBC pays a lump sum directly to the chiropractor to treat a client with an MVA-related injury. The advantage of using such a chiropractor is that treatment is effectively free of charge.
  3. Maximize accident benefits – Do more treatments of shorter duration, rather than fewer treatments of longer duration. For example, a half-hour of massage therapy may cost $50, while a full hour would cost $100. Yet, ICBC will cover only a fixed amount for both – usually around $23 per session. So you will have to pay around three-quarters of the cost of the longer session out-of-pocket, but only around half the cost of the shorter session.
  4. Direction to Pay – Some treatment providers will accept payment for their services after a claim is settled, rather than after each session. To do so, they will require that a formal agreement be signed, called a ‘Direction to Pay’. If you are represented, your lawyer will arrange for the treatment provider’s fees to be paid by ICBC upon settlement of your claim, so your compensation for pain and suffering will remain intact.
  1. Employment Insurance – Apply to Service Canada for ‘EI sickness benefits’, which pays around 55% of a worker’s wage. EI payment can last up to 15 weeks after a one week waiting period.
  2. Short Term Disability – Apply to your disability insurer for short-term disability payments. Most will pay 65% to 75% of an employee’s salary.
  3. Temporary Total Disability – If within 20 days of your accident your injuries prevent you from working, your lawyer can apply to ICBC for temporary total disability (‘TTD’) payments for you. There is a cap of $300 per week and a one-week waiting period.
  1. Suspend or cancel memberships that you can no longer use (fitness club, gym, golf course etc.).
  2. Shop around for treatment providers. Some kinesiologists will cap their fees at $52.50 per session, which is the maximum ICBC will fund for active rehabilitation. Others charge more, thereby requiring a user fee from their clients.
  3. Avoid taking out high interest loans, such as credit card advances or loans from a settlement lender. Instead, ask you lawyer to apply for a discretionary tort advance from ICBC, which carries no interest at all.