Driving a car is a liberating and exhilarating experience. For most people, having a car to drive is synonymous with freedom and the ability to pick up and do whatever they wish at a moment’s notice.
What isn’t a liberating experience, however, is a car accident. They can be a particularly jarring experience with the worst case scenarios being a loss of life and a loss of vehicle. Thankfully, most car accidents are not fatal as cars are designed to take most of the impact from an accident and leave the occupants as unharmed as possible. As nice as that is, the fallout from a car accident now has to be considered. If you’re residing in British Columbia, you’ll now have to report a claim with the ICBC about the accident.
What Is An ICBC Claim?
The ICBC, or Insurance Company of British Columbia, is a crown corporation whose function is to provide basic insurance to vehicles registered in the province. When any car in the province is involved in an accident regardless of any extra insurance coverage the owner might have, a claim is required to be filed with the ICBC by law, there is no avoiding it.
In short, an ICBC claim is a claim to the provincial government’s auto insurance agency detailing the particulars of the accident. A claim does not have to be made immediately, but should be made within 24 hours.
Reporting The Accident to ICBC
According to Preszler Law at https://www.preszlerlawbc.com/services/icbc-claims/, there is only a limited amount of information that you are required to share with ICBC.
First, you can contact them either by phone with their Dial-a-Claim number or by online form. The ICBC only requires basic information to be reported to them. This includes the time and location of the accident, the license plates of all vehicles involved in the accident, driver’s license information, and the information about any witnesses involved in the accident. While you may be asked more information such as who was at fault and what the injuries may be, the information in the list above is all of the information that you need to provide.
What You Should Know
Dealing with the ICBC in a way that is most favorable to you requires a bit of knowledge of how the process works. As mentioned above, only the basics of the accident are required to be reported in the initial claims process so you should not volunteer any extra information at that time as it may be used against you.
As with any insurance company, having to minimize how much they are required to pay out in a claim is part of their operating procedure and they occasionally capitalize on people’s misunderstandings of how the system works to reduce the value of their claim. Know that your statements might be used against you or the language you used might be bent to better suit the ICBC’s claims rules.
The insurance company may quickly dispatch adjusters to you with a written statement about the accident for you to sign. It is imperative that you carefully read the statement as they may be attempting you to admit to things that aren’t precisely true about the nature of the accident. It is also worth noting that you are not legally obligated to sign any agreement or statement given to you by the ICBC to sign, no matter how the adjusters may present themselves.
The vulnerability of the accident itself and your shaken-up headspace is not the best time to be signing legal documents. No matter how badly you wish to just have everything over and done with, you should not sign any statements given to you by the ICBC.
What Should You Do Next?
After filing a claim with the ICBC, an experienced ICBC lawyer should be consulted. They will be able to help you properly evaluate your claim and ensure that you get the most satisfactory outcome possible, as well as insulate you from ICBC adjusters that may be trying to take advantage of your inexperience with dealing with them.
An ICBC lawyer knows the system inside and out and will help you navigate all of the legal particulars of the province to best serve you and your needs. There are various deadlines that come with ICBC claims, and having a lawyer on hand to help you meet those deadlines and get the claim benefits you deserve.
Having to deal with a car accident can be stressful, but the burden can be alleviated by first educating yourself on the rules surrounding ICBC claims and then finding a good lawyer to represent your interests.