British Columbia

CANADA

Phone

604-630-5720 - or toll-free at 1-855-725-6356

What is “Basic Insurance”?

All motor vehicles operated in BC must have ICBC basic auto insurance, commonly referred to as “autoplan”. Autoplan provides all British Columbians with a basic level of protection. ICBC has a monopoly on providing basic insurance in BC which includes five things:

autoplan-sign

1. Third Party Liability coverage for:

  • Personal Injury (bodily injury). An injured party who is not responsible for causing an accident can receive “tort” compensation, including for pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of capacity to earn income, loss of an opportunity and for the cost of future care.

 

  • Material damage. This covers repairs to vehicles and property. Basic insurance will only cover repairs to the vehicle and property of a party not at fault.

 

2. Accident Benefits (also called “Part 7 benefits”).

Accident Benefits are “no fault” benefits. Anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident can get accident benefits, regardless of who caused the accident. Accident Benefits are payable by ICBC for medical expenses, pharmaceutical costs, treatment fees (physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy), and replacement of lost wages if disabled from work.

3. Underinsured Motorist Protection.

Up to $1 million is available to any driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist injured by someone who has insufficient insurance.

4. Hit-and-Run and Uninsured Motorist coverage.

Every resident of British Columbia has up to $200,000 of coverage for injury or property damage caused by a hit-and-run driver or a driver who is uninsured. “Uninsured driver” includes those in breach of their insurance, for example driving while intoxicated or being unlicensed. This coverage is available even to those who don’t own or insure a vehicle – provided the accident was on a “highway” in BC (a broadly defined term that encompasses virtually every public roadway in the province).

5. Inverse Liability Protection

This provides coverage for vehicle repairs to the extent a vehicle operator is not at fault, where an accident occurs outside of BC and where the local law prevents a claim for compensation.

 

How much coverage is available?

Basic autoplan has a cap of $200,000 all-in. This amount consists of up to $50,000 for material damage (damage to vehicles and property) and up to $150,000 for personal injuries. However, many ICBC policy holders choose to pay extra to extend their third party liability coverage to $1 million or more.

 

What does ICBC’s Accidents Benefits cover?

 

Expense Mandatory (must be paid by ICBC) Discretionary (may be paid by ICBC)
Acupuncture
Yes

ICBC considers this “alternative medicine”. No funding is provided unless the acupuncturist is also qualified as a physiotherapist or chiropractor.

Alternative medicine / Alternative treatments
Yes

Not funded if illegal (e.g. medical marijuana), even if prescribed by a medical specialist. Funding is not provided for homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, prolotherapy, craniosacral therapy, reiki, PEMFT or faith healing.

Ambulance
Yes
Attendant care
Yes

If independent living is impossible due to MVA injuries.

Aqua therapy
Yes

Chances of receiving funding improve with a referral from a medical practitioner, or a recommendation from a specialist.

Chiropractic
Yes

Note: if the chiropractor bills ICBC under the  “Flat Fee” option, then the chiropractor can receive all fees directly from ICBC in advance, in one lump sum. An insured will therefore pay nothing.

Counselling
Yes

Chances of receiving funding improve with a referral from a medical practitioner, or a recommendation from a specialist.

Dental work
Yes

Where necessitated by MVA-related injuries.

Homemaker benefits
Yes

Reimbursement of up to $145 per week paid for hiring a person to perform household tasks. The claimant must be the person who ordinarily performs the majority of household tasks, and can no longer do so.

Massage therapy
Yes

No need for a referral from a doctor for the first 12 sessions.

Medication (prescribed)
Yes

Where necessitated by MVA-related injuries.

Mileage to attend treatments
Yes

ICBC will not generally pay mileage as an accident benefit. However, it is usually recoverable as part of a tort claim.

MRI (private)
Yes

Approved exceptionally. Funding requires a cost-benefit analysis showing ICBC will make significant savings if an insured avoids waiting for an MRI in the public system.

Non-prescription medication
Yes

ICBC will reimburse over-the-counter pain medication, but not alternative medicine.

Occupational therapy
Yes

Where necessitated by MVA-related injuries.

Pain clinic
Yes

Chances of funding increase if recommended by a medical specialist.

Physiotherapy
Yes

No need for a doctor’s referral for the first 20 sessions.

Speech therapy
Yes

Where necessitated by MVA-related injuries.

Surgery – private
Yes

 

Approved exceptionally. Funding requires a cost-benefit analysis showing ICBC will make significant savings if an insured avoids waiting for surgery in the public system.

Transportation to treatments and medical appointments
Yes

See ‘Mileage’ above

Vocational training
Yes

Often approved if recommended by an Occupational Therapist assigned by ICBC.

Wage replacement (Temporary Total Disability payments )
Yes

If pre-requisites are met including being disabled from work within 20 days of the MVA, and being employed at the time of the MVA (or having worked for at least 26 weeks in the year prior to the MVA).

 

Who is covered by ICBC’s Basic Insurance?

There are two important considerations…  liability and work status.

1. Liability

No claim for tort compensation is possible for those entirely at fault for an MVA. ICBC allocates liability in 25% increments. Therefore, even if deemed 25%, 50% or even 75% at fault, an injured party will still be entitled to compensation which is reduced by their degree of fault.

However, fault is not relevant when claiming accident benefits. These benefits are available to anyone injured in a MVA in BC, even if 100% at fault. They are also called “no fault” benefits because fault is not a consideration. Therefore, accident benefits are available to all injured vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers) and to those injured by a vehicle such as pedestrians and cyclists.

2. Work status

A person injured in a MVA while in the course of employment can choose whether to make a claim with ICBC or with WorkSafe BC. No accident benefits will be payable by ICBC, but a tort claim will be available. Conversely, benefits will be payable through WorkSafe BC, but a tort claim will not be available (unless WorkSafe BC decides to pursue one on behalf of the injured worker – which is very rare).

On balance, it tends to work out better for a worker injured in a MVA to forego accident benefits and make a tort claim with ICBC. Accident benefits foregone can usually be recovered later as part of the tort claim.

Where both parties involved in a MVA were in the course of employment, such as a taxi driver and a courier, no ICBC claim can be made at all. The matter must be handled by WorkSafe BC.

Where is coverage available?

Coverage under autoplan extends to all parts of Canada and the US (including Alaska and Hawaii). However, coverage does not extend to Mexico or other countries.