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Fairness Office for ICBC to increase accountability, transparency

Fairness Office for ICBC to increase accountability, transparency

THE Province announced on Wednesday that it is making changes to help ensure that ICBC is more transparent and accountable to its customers.

The purpose is to give British Columbians greater confidence that the corporation is treating them fairly when challenges arise, while better supporting people injured in crashes.

The government will be taking steps to appoint a new Fairness Office – focused on customer fairness – that is more independent from ICBC. The office will be required to report out publicly, in plain language, on the type and number of issues it hears, along with recommendations to ICBC. ICBC will also be required to report publicly on actions it takes to respond to these recommendations.

“British Columbians should have the peace of mind that they will be treated fairly after they’ve been injured in a crash,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “With this change, British Columbians can have confidence that the Fairness Office has greater independence from ICBC and has the impartial authority to review the fairness of their situation with the ability to make recommendations to ICBC.”

The Fairness Office will be appointed by cabinet and be independent from ICBC’s claims arm. This office will review and make recommendations to ICBC to resolve individual customer complaints, as well as policy and process, related to customer fairness. The new office will be in place by spring 2021.

The Fairness Office does not overlap with the role of the ombudsperson, who continues to have independent authority to resolve ICBC issues.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will continue to resolve disputes for ICBC claims of $50,000 and under, separate from the courts and independent of ICBC. When there is a disagreement between the customer and ICBC on certain decisions made by ICBC (e.g., matters involving minor injury determinations, accident benefit entitlement and fault determinations or claimed amounts $50,000 and under) the matter will be decided by the CRT, rather than the Fairness Office.

“Each of our three million customers should have confidence in knowing that they’ll be treated fairly when they deal with us, and we welcome the Fairness Office to assist in that regard,” said Nicolas Jimenez, President and CEO, ICBC. “British Columbians must also have the opportunity to tell us directly about how ICBC can be improved, and I believe today’s changes will give our customers confidence in knowing that when they speak up, ICBC will be listening and accountable to them.”

Additional reforms to improve how ICBC is accountable to its customers will include:

* a requirement to produce a customer-friendly summary of its annual report directly to its customers and in plain language, so that people can see how their premium dollars are spent;

* enhancing ICBC’s existing customer panel to provide more British Columbians a greater opportunity to offer input on a wider range of topics, including future changes at the corporation; and

* improving online services for booking road tests.

Another change that will be made by government to build trust and better support people who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident is pre-litigation payments. For those who are injured and qualify, ICBC will be offering pre-litigation payments up front without the need to waive the ability to sue if they so choose. Previously, if a person decided to take ICBC’s settlement, they had to agree to not seek additional settlement money through the courts.

The intent of this program is to help injured customers receive full and fair compensation as quickly as possible. It will also help those injured keep more of their settlement, instead of paying it to lawyer and legal fees, which can total as much as 33% of the total settlement and can require a lengthy court process.

The ability for ICBC to offer pre-litigation payments will take effect as of January 29, 2020, and will be formalized through legislation in spring 2020. The new Fairness Office will be formalized in legislation in fall 2020. The government will monitor all of the aforementioned changes to ensure ICBC continues to be accountable to its customers and all British Columbians.

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