ICBC’s Demystifier of Auto Insurance: Demystifying the Demystifier

Ouch.  If you are a Canucks fan, last night was not a good hockey night!  Thankfully, at least for this last go-round in Boston, we weren’t subjected to any more of Vicki Gabereau’s ICBC ads on top of it.

The last time I had to suffer through a spectacular loss to Boston, I also had to listen to the self-proclaimed “Demystifier of Auto Insurance” cheerfully advising that ICBC has our damaged vehicles repaired by trained professionals.  Imagine that!  Did we really think or expect otherwise?  Isn’t that why we dutifully pay our premiums?  Who else but qualified and trained professional mechanics would repair our vehicles?

What I find curious is that the “Demystifier” only tells us the easy stuff, the information that is rather uncontroversial and likely what we can figure out for ourselves.  For example, several months ago, Vicki was very enthusiastic about how one could report an accident at any hour of the day, and even when one was in a collision in the United States.  Vicki said this gave her great “comfort”.  What she didn’t share was that when you phone to advise that you had been in an accident and to obtain your “claim number”, the ICBC operator is making notes during your conversation, which may be used against you when trying to settle your claim or at trial.  That seems harmless enough, but an innocent “I seem to be okay”, while in the midst of the distress of being in an accident can come back to haunt you.  We know that is not at all unusual for the full extent of soft tissue and other injuries to manifest themselves days after an accident, or even longer.

When reporting a claim, you are only obliged to provide the details as to time and place of the collision, and the drivers and vehicles particulars (drivers licenses, license plates, vehicle description, contact information). Descriptions of injuries and who may be at fault does not need to be discussed.

Now back to the recent ads regarding repair of our vehicles.  Vicki forgot, again, to “demystify” by mentioning that that if your vehicle is damaged in a collision through no fault of your own, you are entitled to seek “accelerated depreciation”.  This is the difference between the value of your vehicle after the repair work is done and what it would have been worth on resale had it not been in the collision.  This might be particularly relevant if you had intended on selling or trading in your vehicle within a short time following the repair work.   The best evidence to prove accelerated depreciation comes from an auto dealer or other similar expert who can provide a report or letter in that regard.

If you are the innocent victim of a motor vehicle accident, I urge you to consult with a lawyer who has experience dealing with ICBC (and understands the REAL mysteries of insurance coverage), and can provide valuable information as to your rights, duties and obligations.  So far I haven’t heard Vicki suggest that you consult with this type of expert!


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