Suit claims that the alleged effect for the government was to plunder ICBC’s budget for its own benefit and in doing so increase ICBC’s operating costs.

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A judge has certified a class action lawsuit against the Insurance Corp. of BC for accident claimants who allege their benefits were harmed due to a decades-old scheme.

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In March 2020, the lawsuit filed in the BC Supreme Court alleged that ICBC and the BC government were engaged in an illegal scheme to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars, resulting in losses to accident victims and an increase in insurance rates for drivers.

The lawsuit argued that provincial laws make the government, through the Medical Services Plan (MSP) – not ICBC – responsible for paying the cost of doctor’s visits to road accident victims. road.

He said ICBC has for decades reimbursed the government, through MSP, for physician services due as a result of ICBC claims.

The alleged effect on the government of receiving remittances – estimated at almost $900 million from 1988 to 2018 – has been to loot ICBC’s budget for its own benefit and, in doing so, to increase the ICBC operating costs.

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There were two classes identified in the lawsuit, those of the class of accident victims and those of the class of taxpayers.

In his ruling on the case, Judge Nathan Smith certified the accident victims category, but declined to certify the taxpayers category, the latter involving the allegation of misappropriation of $900 million.

Brayden Methot, a Williams Lake man who is the representative plaintiff in the accident victims class, was left quadriplegic in a car accident in June 2014.

In April 2015, ICBC notified him that he had reached his accident benefits limit, which was then $150,000.

He later learned that he had lost $3,709.43 after ICBC paid that amount to MSP from his accident benefits.

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The court heard that ICBC sent him a check for that amount, but at the time of trial he had not cashed the check.

In its response to the lawsuit, ICBC said it had a policy under which it did not reduce the Accident Benefits coverage limit by the amount of MSP payments.

But the judge noted that the testimony of Methot and others made it clear that the policy was not followed in all cases.

Affidavits from an ICBC official said the policy was enforced in the majority of cases, but there were 275 instances where it appeared not to have been enforced or not enforced correctly.

The exact number of crash victims who will benefit from the ruling and how much they might get is not expected to be known until the plaintiffs are discovered and disclosed by ICBC.

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Regarding the taxpayer category, which involved anyone with an ICBC policy, the judge noted that the NDP government had recently introduced legislation that he said was clearly intended to pre-empt such claims.

He declined to certify the ratepayer class after concluding that the only remaining issue – a claim by the plaintiffs for unconstitutional taxation – was doomed and would have been doomed even in the absence of the new legislation.

In an email, Scott Stanley, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that in 1994 the NDP government created an elaborate scheme that required ICBC to bill accident victims for MSP expenses and donate that money to the province.

“This scheme deprived the most seriously injured people of all the benefits to which they were legally entitled,” the Vancouver lawyer said. “The program enabled the province to withdraw millions of dollars from ICBC in health care costs already covered by payments the province had received from taxes collected by the federal government.”

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Stanley said British Columbians who purchased ICBC insurance paid twice for the same health care costs.

“This lawsuit has publicly confronted the province over double payments. The NDP government responded by passing legislation to legitimize the scheme without accounting to the public for the money it had taken from ICBC.

“Accident victims who have had money withdrawn by the province and ICBC will now be able to pursue their claims in a class action.”

In an email, an ICBC spokesperson said the auto insurer was “pleased” that the taxpayer’s claim was denied.

“We are reviewing the decision on the collective claim of accident victims.”

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