Always seek legal advice prior to making a statement to ICBC. Failure to do so will put your legal position at a significant disadvantage, and may require difficult corrective measures.
When interacting with ICBC it is important to understand how ICBC as an insurance company works. You should know that ICBC tries to avoid paying out on claims. ICBC collects money from you in the form of premiums and then usually works to minimize the amount paid on your claim. While ICBC is your auto insurer, if you are injured and make a claim, ICBC is NOT acting for you; it is acting against you. This begins as soon as a car accident occurs.
The first opportunity for ICBC to minimize your claim is when you make a statement to them about the car accident.
Who must provide a statement?
Generally speaking, if you are a driver of a vehicle involved in a car accident you should report that car accident to ICBC within 24-hours. Failure to report may void your insurance.
Anyone injured in a car accident should also report the accident to ICBC. Drivers, passengers, pedestrians and other injured people may be eligible for “Accident Benefits” known as Part 7s, regardless of who was at fault. To be eligible to collect Accident Benefits an injured person must promptly report the accident to ICBC, and later provide further details of the accident and injuries. Failure to do so precludes collection of Accident Benefits, and may also reduce your claim if you choose to sue the at-fault driver for your injuries.
What is a statement?
Any information you provide to ICBC is a statement. A statement can be in many forms, including any verbal or written communication. This may include:
- information given to an ICBC Dial-a-Claim representative;
- written correspondence/emails with a claims adjuster;
- discussion with an adjuster whether in person or by telephone; and
- written statements produced by a claims representative, which you are then asked to sign.
Be aware that ICBC is a sophisticated corporation and that all communication with them will be recorded or noted in your file.
Statements given to police may end up in the possession of ICBC but are not statements for the purposes of reporting a car accident or injuries.
What must you include in your statement?
For a driver, the ICBC adjuster will ask you questions about where, when and how the accident occurred and who was involved. The representative will also be sure to ask about any injuries you or anyone else suffered in the accident. Always be very careful about what you tell ICBC. Be particularly careful when giving estimates of time, speed and symptoms of injuries.
For a passenger or pedestrian, the only information you are required to provide is your injuries, your insurance coverages and your work. For example, you are not required to say whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt. ICBC will collect as much information as possible about the accident and the resulting injuries, so that any inaccuracies or mistakes you make may be used against you. What may seem unimportant to you at the time may have major importance later.
Without legal knowledge, it is very difficult to provide a fair statement to ICBC while protecting your rights. That is why you should seek legal advice before talking to ICBC.