– By Par Sandhu, Paralegal

In February of 2020 the BC Government announced plans to transition to a no fault auto insurance system.  The goal of the new system is to reduce the inflated costs for ICBC, and according to Attorney General’s David Eby,  reduce costs to the insured public.  The new system promises lifetime care in accident benefits (the enhanced care scheme) and insurance premiums being lowered by approximately 20%, an average of $400 in savings per driver.  The no fault scheme will be similar to the ones in place in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and is expected to be in place by May 1, 2021.  “Life time care” and “lower premiums” sound quite appealing to the average resident, but is the Province educating the public as to what cost this trade will occur?

David Eby has commented that the current system pushes people injured in a car crash to call a lawyer rather than their doctor.  “…We have a law-suit based system with lengthy court battles, where those who are injured have to hope for their settlement, if they get one, will be enough to cover their care fo the rest fo their life”… “We need an insurance system that works for British Columbians and puts the recovery of those injured at the forefront” say Mr. Eby.  But if we were to ask our neighbours in Saskatchewan and Manitoba would they say no-fault insurance has proven to reduce their rights as injured victims as their claims are not being assessed on an individual basis?  Does no fault insurance truly put the insured’s recovery at the forefront?

Under the new scheme an injured person will no longer be able to sue an at-fault driver.  ICBC will now be required by law to assist each person who makes a claim, however, injuries will no longer be assessed on someone’s earning capacity and lifestyle.  Under the new plan the same amount is paid for the same injury.

The Canadian Bar Association issued an article on February 11, 2020 BC No-Fault Insurance Plan Will Reduce Victims’ Rights, Harm Vulnerable People: Lawyers providing some insight as to how the legal community is viewing these current changes.  The article talks about the adverse effect no-fault can have on an injured person when they’re claim is not being assessed based on their individual needs.  President of the Canadian Bar Association, Ken Armstrong gives a general scenario in which a injured person can lose important benefits from being insured under no fault: “Our system of justice is built on fairness and the acceptance of responsibility.  An innocent victim of an accident has a right to expect that the person at fault for the accident take responsibility for it.  In a no-fault insurance plan, no one but the victims and their families bear the consequences of that accident.   Mr. Armstrong states “The plan also significantly reduces people’s access to justice by making it hard for them to receive legal advice and representation.”

No fault insurance has yet to come into effect so it’s difficult to gage how British Columbians will be impacted by the new changes, positive or negative.  Best to stay update with the latest news and articles related to the new legislation which is to be introduced during Spring of 2021.

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