How Do ICBC Claims Work?


Any resident of British Columbia who drives is familiar with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, or ICBC. ICBC provides basic auto insurance to every driver in the province through its Basic Autoplan coverage. A certain baseline of coverage is required, but if you want extra coverage, you can buy it from either ICBC or another insurer. Most residents get ICBC coverage without really thinking about. You don’t have to think about it unless you’re involved in an accident or other incident that requires filing a claim. If and when that happens, you’ll need to know the following information about how ICBC claims work.

When to Notify ICBC (and What To Tell Them)

You should notify ICBC of the accident as soon as reasonably possible. The key word here is “reasonable.” if you get in a car accident and break your arm, you don’t have to use your good arm to fumble around in the backseat for your cell phone in order to start the claims process. Get medical treatment first. As long as you call ICBC within 24 hours or so, you should be fine.

You may also need time to calm down and make sure you can capably speak about what happened when the accident occurred. If you just got into a fender bender, you may feel weird for being upset. You may feel like you should just deal with it, because everything is fine, right? You may know that, but your body could still be dealing with adrenaline. Adrenaline is designed to protect you during traumatic moments. In some cases, people who have been in serious accidents can forget what happened, which is how you hear about accident victims standing outside a burning car without any recognition of how they got there.

This isn’t pleasant to think about, but if you say the wrong thing during your initial call to ICBC, they may be able to use your words against you. If you say something like, “I never saw the other car,” they just might able to interpret that as an admission of fault. That may sound extreme to you. You may be thinking, “I would never interpret things that way,” but you aren’t an insurance adjuster. Insurance claim adjusters are too often paid to poke holes in otherwise solid stories. Because of that, you should remain as factual as possible. Give information that you know to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt, like the intersection where the accident occured or the make and model of the vehicles involved. At this point, it’s not a good idea to make any sort of speculation regarding who was a fault, since that can backfire on you in spectacular fashion.

Don’t Feel Pressured

It’s possible that a claims adjuster will want to meet with you in person. You should only do that if you know what to expect, and, unfortunately, most British Columbia residents do not really know what they’re agreeing to when they meet with an adjuster. That’s not to say ICBC is staffed by people who are mean or angry, since many of the workers there are professionals trying to do a job. However, that job may involve getting you to sign a piece of paper that is hard to understand.

If you feel any pressure, you can politely decline. There’s no law that says you have to sign whatever statement an ICBC representative places in front of you. In many cases, it’s smart to consult with an ICBC claims attorney before you have any sort of in-depth meeting with someone from the insurance corporation. If you have a weird feeling that something about the situation isn’t quite right, then you should listen to that gut instinct. An attorney can do a much better job of advising you of your rights during the car accident claims process.