Coming soon: a cheaper, faster way to resolve disputes with your car insurance claim
March 25, 2019
Unfortunately, hundreds of British Columbians get into a crash every day. From taking time off work, getting your car fixed and going to rehab, a crash can be a major inconvenience that can hang over your head for years – especially if things don’t go as smoothly as you’d like with your claim.
For example, you might not agree with who ICBC decided was responsible for the crash. Or you might not be happy with the settlement that was offered to you. Right now, if you’re dissatisfied, you may consider getting a lawyer to help you bring your claim to court.
To simplify how these disputes are resolved, the B.C. government announced last year that minor injury claim disputes will be handled through the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) starting April 1 of this year. We’ll spend time with this post explaining what that’ll look like, but first…
The problems with today’s model
Most people who get into a crash just want to get on with their lives as quickly as possible, and here at ICBC, we work hard to put people first, solve disputes out of court, and offer claims settlements that are fair. More than 99.5% of all the injury claims we receive are settled out of court.
The small number of disputes that are dealt with in court can be a frustratingly costly and time consuming. Right now, people can wait up to 3 years just to get a trial date.
For ICBC, it’s contributed to significant financial losses over the last two years. Legal fees currently eat up a quarter of what we spend every year – that’s double what we need to run ICBC and keep the lights on.
Using the Civil Resolution Tribunal starting April 1, 2019
The CRT is part of B.C.’s public justice system. It was formed to encourage the use of more collaborative dispute resolution tools instead of the traditional adversarial litigation model.
Since 2016 it has handled strata and small claim disputes, and soon it will be used to handle certain ICBC disputes. Although established by the B.C. government, the CRT’s decision making is independent from government and ICBC.
Instead of judges, the CRT has qualified tribunal members that have the ability to make enforceable decisions on your case.
As Canada’s first online tribunal, there’s no office or court house. Instead of getting dressed up for court, you can work on it from home on your smartphone. You can still hire a lawyer to help you out, but the CRT online portal was designed to be easy enough for someone to file a claim on their own.
But going to the CRT shouldn’t be your first step if you have an issue with your claim. There are a number of ways that you can discuss your concerns with ICBC, from speaking to your adjuster’s manager, to requesting an independent Claims Assessment Review.
The CRT resolves disputes about accidents that happened on or after April 1, involving any of the following:
Disputes about accident benefits (who should receive them, if they should continue).
Disputes about how your injuries were classified (minor or non-minor).
Where there is bodily injury, disputes about damages and fault up to $50,000.
Where there is no bodily injury, disputes relating to damage to vehicles or other property under $5,000.
How to make a claim with the CRT
You first start by using the CRT’s Solution Explorer which will help with an initial analysis of your dispute. The Explorer offers free legal information and tools to help you resolve your dispute.
If none of those options work, you can submit an application to the CRT. You’ll also need to pay an application fee (fee varies based on type and value of claim) and provide evidence to support your dispute. The CRT’s mediators will try to help the parties reach an agreement. If that isn’t possible, the CRT will then serve a Dispute Notice to all parties (which will always include ICBC where an injury is involved) named in the dispute. The parties will have an opportunity to reach an agreement through negotiation and mediation. Where the parties can’t agree, a CRT Tribunal Member will make a decision based on the arguments and evidence, then issue an order.
All decisions made by the CRT are binding and enforceable. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, their decision can also be referred to the Supreme Court of B.C for judicial review.
You have up to two years from the date of the crash to file a claim with the CRT.
Because the CRT is independent from ICBC and government, it’s best to visit their website for full details. Their website already has some information available. You can also contact them directly with your questions.