Impact of ICBC’s Enhanced Care Insurance System on Active Transportation Users
August 19, 2021
HUB Cycling’s Regional Advisory Committee recently wrote a letter to ICBC regarding concerns with the newly implemented Enhanced Care insurance system, bringing forward the perspective of active transportation users.
Below we make several requests and recommendations regarding how this system ought to address the needs specific to people cycling and other vulnerable road users, and include ICBC’s responses to each issue.
Ensuring Equitable Access to Benefits
ICBC should ensure that active transportation users have access to all benefits available under the Enhanced Care system.
The introduction of the Enhanced Care system has the potential to disproportionately interfere with vulnerable road users’ access to benefits. Vulnerable road users, like people cycling and walking, already face barriers in pursuing claims with ICBC. For instance, they need to prove the involvement of motor vehicles in collisions before they have any access to injury or loss coverage. This has been difficult, for instance, in the situation where a person cycling is forced off the road by a vehicle and is injured, but there is no collision between the vehicle and the person cycling.
Historically, these individuals may have been able to get assistance with their claims from lawyers working on a contingency basis. However, the reduction in damages awards under the new system will make securing legal representation on a contingency basis more difficult. Vulnerable road users will be more frequently pursuing difficult-to-prove claims without the assistance of lawyers.
In order to alleviate any added difficulty accessing Enhanced Care benefits, HUB Cycling suggests that ICBC take active steps to facilitate the claims process for people cycling and other vulnerable road users. ICBC should ensure that vulnerable road users are provided assistance in pursuing their claims, especially in relation to claims that may be more difficult to prove. This would include collisions indirectly caused by vehicles, such as in the example above.
ICBC should also provide people cycling and other vulnerable road users with clear information regarding how to make a claim and access to an online claim reporting process. Although the Enhanced Care question and answer page confirms that people cycling and walking have access to Enhance Care benefits , the explanation of how to report a claim on your website is written solely for those involved in a collision while traveling in a vehicle. Moreover, the online claim reporting tool only allows registered owners or lessees of personal vehicles or principle drivers of personal vehicles to submit claims. This means that people cycling and other vulnerable road users need to phone ICBC to report a claim, thereby creating additional obstacles to accessing benefits. To ensure equitable access to coverage under the new system, ICBC can and should develop a user-friendly online claim reporting process for non-vehicle owners/lessees/drivers.
“We know that the move away from a litigation-based system means our customers need options to ensure that their claim is being handled fairly. That’s why, under Enhanced Care, ICBC is required – by law – to advise and assist every British Columbian (policyholders and non policyholders) with their claim and endeavour to ensure that every person is informed about and receives all the benefits that they are entitled to.
You are correct in pointing out that we have an online process for reporting a claim by a registered owner or lessee of a personal vehicle, or a principal driver of a personal vehicle. Currently, a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist making a claim must call ICBC. We appreciate your suggestion to expand the online process for these individuals and will bring forward your suggestion for future considerations in how we can better serve all British Columbians.
Regarding your questions about benefits: Under Enhanced Care, any British Columbian – including cyclists – injured in a crash with a vehicle anywhere in Canada or the United States has access to care, recovery and wage loss benefits, even if they weren’t responsible for the crash.”
Income Replacement Insurance
ICBC should ensure that people cycling and other vulnerable road users have access to insurance products that provide coverage for lost income.
Under the new system, people cycling and other vulnerable road users are losing their rights to claim the totality of their lost income in the event of a collision involving a motor vehicle. Although the Enhanced Care system provides for some income loss coverage, individuals earning more than $100,000 per year cannot claim any lost income over that amount. ICBC’s website indicates that individuals can purchase Income Top-Up; however, it is unclear whether people cycling and other vulnerable road users are eligible to purchase this additional coverage without purchasing motor vehicle insurance.
HUB Cycling recommends that vulnerable road users should have the same access to additional coverage as motor vehicle owners, and accordingly, ICBC should:
- offer the same Income Top-Up to those without motor vehicle insurance as a stand-alone product;
- ensure that motor vehicle users who purchase the Income Top-Up under their ordinary motor vehicle insurance are eligible to use the Income Top-Up in the event that they are involved in a collision while engaging in active transport; and
- ensure that vulnerable road users are provided with information about the coverage limits under the standard Enhanced Care system, any available income loss coverage products from ICBC, and other avenues for acquiring income replacement insurance where ICBC does not offer any suitable products.
If ICBC is able to implement our suggested improvements, HUB Cycling would be willing to provide expanded outreach and information sharing about the implications of Enhanced Care and the opportunities for people cycling to improve their coverage under the new system.
“To your points on income replacement: If a B.C. resident doesn’t have a vehicle they insure – for example, they are a cyclist or pedestrian-only – they are still covered for income replacement if they are injured in a crash with a vehicle up to 90% of their after-tax income in wage-loss benefits (to a maximum of $100,000 of pre-tax income).
If they earn more than $100,000 a year, cyclists and pedestrians are also able to purchase ICBC’s new income top-up coverage as a stand-alone product, even if they do not insure a vehicle. You asked if motor vehicle users who purchase the income top-up under their motor vehicle insurance are eligible to use the income top-up in the event that they are involved in a
collision while engaging in cycling or walking, and the answer is yes.
We should add that income replacement is only to cover any income loss as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, not to pay for vehicle or bicycle repairs. Nevertheless, as long as the cyclist is not responsible for the crash, they can still sue the responsible driver for damages caused to their bike.
In the case of a cyclist being run off the road by a motor vehicle, you raised concerns about the burden of proof without a lawyer. As we stated earlier, ICBC is required by law to assist every British Columbian with their claim and endeavor to ensure that every person is informed about and receives all the benefits to which they are entitled. There are a number of steps that can be taken if someone wishes to appeal a decision about their claim, including accessing ICBC’s Fair Practice Office and the Civil Resolution Tribunal. In addition, a new Fairness Officer has been recently appointed by the government and has the authority to review and make recommendations to resolve complaints about the policy and process ICBC used to make a decision in their case.
We are committed to taking the time necessary to build awareness and understanding of Enhanced Care, and to work through the new processes with our various engaged stakeholders. We appreciate HUB’s thoughtful comments.”