You've been in a car accident and you've heard about the new no-fault insurance in BC but you have no idea what that means or how it will impact your claim.

The 'no-fault' label is misleading because when a crash happens, ICBC will still find out who's at fault.

As of May 1, 2021, ICBC introduced the new process which removed the option finding out who was at fault in court. The Crown corporation's adjustors will study the case and decide who's at fault and that person's insurance premiums are very likely to go up, but these decisions can be disputed.

You have 90 days to challenge the decision if you disagree with it.

ICBC asks drivers to contact their claim representative and if they still don't agree with the decision they can ask for a secondary review.

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If the decision still seems unreasonable, a claim can then be filed to the Civil Resolution Tribunal or CRT in which a person will be asked to write a submission explaining and providing evidence that ICBC made an improper decision.

"What they do is they look whether or not the ICBC adjuster, inside their cubicle, made an improper or an unreasonable decision," personal injury lawyer Seth Wheeldon of Preszler Law says. "They make decisions quickly on a high-volume basis and then that decision is given deference. So, we have to presume it's a proper and reasonable decision until, when you challenge it, you deem otherwise."

To have a decision overturned, the driver must show evidence that the ICBC's decision was improper or unreasonable based on the evidence they had knowing that ICBC does not consider new evidence as it comes up.

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New evidence will only be taken into consideration after an ICBC decision is found to be unreasonable or improper. It is only at that point that a decision can be made in matters of what is deemed fair and right.

"You have to go to the CRT, which mostly decides things by written submissions, but again, they're not looking for what happened or what's right, they're looking for 'did ICBC make a decision that is considered reasonable or appropriate?'" Wheeldon says. "So they're not looking for new evidence, you could have new evidence that shows that the decision is completely wrong, but they're not even worried about that.

"Once the tribunal finds that a decision might have been unreasonable it's only at that point that they'll look at what is fair and what happened. They don't ignore new evidence or what the right decision is if they find the original decision was improper. But that's only the second question, the first is just finding if the ICBC decision was reasonable."

Wheeldon says the new auto insurance system is flawed.

"I just find it so deeply troubling that ICBC stripped our rights away and assumes that everything they do is right when I know for a fact they make poor decisions, not always, but sometimes," he says.

"The reality is, that everyone sees the world through their lens, so it's not uncommon that two different witnesses have very different views of what happened. The challenge with deciding cases in cubicles is it's hard to assess who's telling the truth without looking at them in the face," he says.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal has overturned two ICBC decisions since the start of 2024. In these cases, applicants were able to show in a written submission or over the phone where and how the ICBC had been improper in its decision-making.

To find out more about how to dispute an ICBC decision, visit the ICBC's web page here.

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