ICBC Insurance Denial
ICBC Insurance Denial
Being in a motor vehicle accident is a terrible experience
Having your vehicle stolen or damaged is a terrible experience. Having ICBC deny your claim for insurance makes a terrible experience even worse.
In cases where you are in an accident, not only will ICBC refuse to pay for your vehicle, but they will also seek to recover any money that they pay to the other driver and occupants for their injuries and damage. This can potentially leave you on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the crash.
In cases where your vehicle is stolen or damaged, you will have to contend with the loss of your vehicle and the cost of a replacement vehicle.
It is important to remember that a letter from ICBC saying they are denying your claim is not the final word. You have options, including taking ICBC to court to enforce the policy of insurance that you paid for.
While we’re proud of our record in court, it’s the cases that don’t get to court that we’re most proud of. There’s no better feeling than calling a client shortly before a trial to let them know that ICBC has changed it mind and is going to cover the claim. ICBC’s case was probably weak all along, but only by aggressively pursuing the case in court and having trial around the corner were they forced to face that fact. In short, we called their bluff.
Contact us today to arrange a consultation to review the circumstances of your case, and whether it’s time to get a lawyer on your side.
False Statement Breach
In order to meet the terms of their insurance, a person has to provide information to ICBC to enable it to carry out its investigation. Under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, which is the law that governs ICBC insurance contracts, ICBC can deny insurance to a person who makes a willfully false statement as part of their claim. Anything that a person says to an adjuster or writes to ICBC is potentially a “statement” that ICBC can argue was false.
It is ICBC that bears the onus of establishing a false statement in court, and to do so they must prove three things:
- a factually false statement;
- the false statement was made willfully,
- the statement or statements are material to ICBC’s investigation.
Whether a statement was false or not is relatively straightforward, and involves comparing what was said to other facts that are proven. For instance, if a person said they were the only person in their vehicle, but there is a video showing that there was a passenger, then what they said was factually false.
Often the most important issue is whether a factually statement was made willfully. An allegation that an insured person has made a wilfully false statement is founded in fraud, and the court will not find fraud where the person making the false statement has an honest belief in its truth. The law recognizes that people sometimes make mistakes. Even if a person is reckless or negligent in telling ICBC what happened, as long as they weren’t trying to mislead ICBC, the statement was not “willfully” false.
In determining whether a false statement was material, the court considers whether the statement was “capable of affecting the mind of the insurer either in the management of the claim or in deciding to pay it.” This means that the statement must be about something important to ICBC. For instance, if an insured person says that their car was blue when it was in fact red, a court would likely find that this was not material, since it wouldn’t have any effect on ICBC’s decision about how to handle the claim.
False statements are by far the most common type of breach of insurance we see at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers. They are often linked with another denial, such as ICBC’s disbelief that a vehicle was stolen (the statement is that it was stolen when it wasn’t) or their allegation that the driver was impaired (the person lied when they said they didn’t drink anything). While it can be seemingly easy for ICBC to allege a false statement, it is quite another thing for them to prove it in court.
We have experience representing clients at all stages of an ICBC file. We help clients prepare statements to ICBC explaining the circumstances. This can be important when there is an allegation of another type of breach of insurance, such as impaired driving, and the client wants to be truthful to ICBC without incriminating themselves.
We also represent clients who have received a breach letter from ICBC saying their claims are not covered because of a false statement.