Remember all those cars torched and overturned in the Vancouver riots this past summer? Only those owners with the right optional coverage could make a claim to an insurance company for the damage to their vehicles. Basic coverage by ICBC would not be enough. Without the optional coverage, an owner would have to identify the person or persons responsible for damaging their vehicle and sue them directly.
ICBC is our province’s universal automobile insurance company. “Universal” means that every car owner in BC must purchase their basic coverage (Autoplan) from ICBC. Excess coverage and optional coverage may be purchased from ICBC or from other insurance companies.
The main component of your basic coverage is Third Party Liability. That means if you cause an accident ICBC will defend you and pay any monies owed to the injured person (the third party). In this situation, ICBC is your insurance company. If you are at fault and are injured then ICBC will not pay you a settlement for your injuries. You might be entitled to “no-fault accident benefits”. If you are injured and make a claim against the other driver ICBC will represent the other driver and you should retain your own lawyer.
If you want coverage for damage to your vehicle you have to purchase that separately. There are two main types of optional coverage – Collision and Comprehensive. Collision covers damage to your vehicle even if you are at fault. Comprehensive covers you for theft and vandalism.
When you renew your Autoplan don’t just ask for the “usual” or “the same as last year.” Make sure you have the right rate class, the correct principal driver identified and the right insurance for other members of your household. The wrong insurance might mean that you will not be covered if you have an accident. The minimum amount of third party liability you must purchase is $200,000. The maximum amount you can purchase is $5,000.000. One catastrophic injury could be worth millions. If you are at fault and do not have enough third party liability coverage the excess can be claimed against you directly – against your house, your savings, even your paycheque. The claimants might be the people in your car – your family and friends – so make sure you have enough coverage for them.
Here’s another tip – buy extra UMP. Underinsured Motorist Protection protects you from other drivers who don’t have enough insurance or assets to cover your claim. You automatically get $1 million UMP with your basic Autoplan. You can buy an extra million for only a few dollars.
If you have been injured in a car accident and want more information on the type of claim you might be making see Sean Pihl’s blog “Injury Compensation – there’s more to it than you might think.”
The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.