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Blue Divider Line

If ICBC doesn't pay for Fire Dept's response they should start... just look at ICBC's accumulated surplus and profits in the newspaper article below "Taylor gets ICBC bonus pay".

We are waiting a response from Regional District of Central Okanagan on this matter to find out if taxpayers pay for the Fire Dept's response for traffic accidents.  We sent an email April 14, 2008.  RDCO said they will get back to us with the answer.

Blue Divider Line

ICBC COULD HELP!!!

The more crowded the road, the more unsafe the road is.  Government has been promoting people to take the bus, by giving them money to hand over their old clunker car (Cash for Klunkers) to walk or bicycle.  Vehicle drivers have helped subsidize the bus through fuel taxes and in Vancouver there is a transit tax on your BC Hydro bill.  For a change, how about government partially subsidize the people whom drive to help get them out of their cars while still keeping their cars.  Some people can't give up their cars if there is no bus on one part of their route, and they can't afford both transit and a vehicle so they stay in their vehicle.  There could be discounts on auto insurance for driving your vehicle only part way to work for instance, or how about free Skytrain and bus pass for people who pay auto insurance, etc.

Blue Divider Line

An Okanagan Legal Blog
http://www.achieving-justice.com/

http://www.bouckslawblog.com/

Blue Divider Line

Automakers commit to put automatic brakes in all cars
by Canadian Press - BC Local News - Sep 11, 2015 - By Joan Lowy, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Ten automakers have committed to the government to include automatic emergency braking in all new cars, a step safety advocates say could significantly reduce traffic deaths and injuries.

Making the technology widely available is part of a new era in vehicle safety in which the focus is on preventing crashes rather than on protecting occupants from their effects, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday in a statement announcing the commitments.

The announcement didn't specify a timetable for implementing the change. The automakers are Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

The technology is already available in some vehicles, but typically as an option in higher-priced models like Cadillac, Infiniti and Lexus. They are also often bundled with non-safety features like heated seats or faux leather interiors, making the overall package more expensive.

"If technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era," Foxx said.

Automatic emergency braking includes a range of systems designed to address the large number of crashes, especially rear-end crashes, in which drivers do not apply the brakes or fail to apply sufficient braking power to avoid or mitigate a crash. The systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and, if the driver does not take sufficient action, engage the brakes.

The systems could prevent or mitigate an estimated 80 per cent of the rear-end collisions that cause about 1,700 deaths and a half million injuries annually, according to a recent report by the National Transportation Safety Board. There are about 1.7 million rear-end crashes each year in the U.S.

Source: http://www.vernonmorningstar.com/national/326768761.html

Blue Divider Line

One crash is too many
Castanet.net - by Jennifer Zielinski | Story: 127304 - Nov 20, 2014

A road traffic death occurs in BC on average every 32 hours, while a road traffic injury occurs every 6.2 minutes.

In an attempt to change driving attitude and behaviour to recognize the magnitude of loss, the annual ‘One Crash is Too Many’ campaign was held Wednesday evening at the Orchard Park Shopping Centre.

One Crash is Too Many began three years ago and is a campaign intended to raise awareness of the preventability of motor vehicle related injuries. The campaign was initiated and is funded by Paul Hergott, a local personal injury lawyer.

One Crash is Too Many is held in conjunction with The National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, a day set aside to remember those killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads, often in avoidable collisions, and those left to deal with the sudden and unexpected loss of people they love.

Both campaigns spawn from the UN General Assembly adopted resolution on October 26, 2005, which embraced World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and inviting member states and the international community to remember the day, which is commemorated on the 3rd Sunday of November each year.

According to Paul Hergott, it took three years for Canada to respond to the UN resolution and declare the Wednesday following the 3rd Sunday of November the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.

“A 2014 report estimates that every 24 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, sibling, colleague and friend is killed in a road traffic crash. That’s over 3,500 per day,” he says. “That same report estimates approximately 215,000 people are injured every day in road traffic incidents.”

However the day of remembrance has failed to gain widespread recognition, as there are only seven events in all of Canada registered on the national website.

Due to the lack of acknowledgement for the day, there is also a lack of resources allocated to deal with the problem, says Hergott.

“On a strictly economic level, ignoring the personal losses from injuries and deaths, the approximate expense to British Columbians every year, estimated in a 2007 study, is approximately 9 Billion dollars per year,” he explains.

“That’s twice the annual budget of the Ministry of Education and approximately 50 per cent of the annual budget of the Ministry of Health.”

However, the BC Coroners Service did release data showing that between 2008 and 2012 vehicle drivers and passengers who died in motor vehicle incidents dropped by more than one third.

But the number of pedestrians killed remained constant over that five-year period at about 55 each year.

According to a release from the BC Corner’s Service the analysis found that almost half the fatal incidents took place at intersections, and in more than half of those cases the pedestrian either had the right of way or was waiting on a sidewalk or median.

In about 70 per cent of those cases where the pedestrian had the right of way in crossing the road, the vehicle driver was making a left turn, which research shows is one of the most complex maneuver for a driver to tackle, increasing their chances of not seeing a pedestrian until it is too late to avoid them.

Hergott hopes that by holding a day of remembrance there will be a day when all road laws are respected and a day of zero crashes resulting in injury or death will be a reality.

Blue Divider Line

ICBC asked to buck-up
Castanet.net - by Bill Everitt | Story: 123657 - Sep 26, 2014

A light dangles from a post after a driver crashed into it and rolled his vehicle on Hwy. 97 a few weeks ago.

Penticton council may have saved local taxpayers some money this week as a resolution was passed urging ICBC to restore full coverage for damages to City property.

The resolution to "urge the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to direct ICBC to reimburse the full costs of damages caused by their insured drivers," was passed on Wednesday's session of the Union of BC Municipalities conference.

Sometime in 2013 ICBC decided it was no longer going to cover the full cost of repairing municipal structures damaged in vehicular incidents. Now they are only paying a reduced portion of wages, materials and equipment costs.

The City apparently found out about the change when they sent in a claim in Sept. 2013.

ICBC responded Feb. 3, 2014 with the new information, noting the changes were effective immediately and sent an adjusted invoice.

The issue was brought to council Feb. 17 and the resolution was endorsed by the Southern Interior Local Government Association. Later, the UBCM Resolutions Committee recommended support for the resolution to its membership and it was passed on Wednesday morning's session.

"ICBC is increasing our spending and we're saying that's inappropriate," Mayor Garry Litke said in an interview. "Local property gets damaged, a driver takes out a light pole, lights come down and that should be covered by insurance.

"We have to pay overtime for a guy to come out in the middle of the night to fix things, and ICBC just pays what they think it's worth and it's not enough."

Litke said the city's budget did not include extra space for ICBC to change the rules. Now, making up the shortfall is costing taxpayers extra.

"In 2013 we invoiced ICBC $26,982.26 for property damage as a result of an ICBC-insured claim," said Simone Blais, communications officer with the City of Penticton. "They only paid $20,885.98 – reducing wages by 46 per cent as well as equipment and material costs."

Claims vary year-to-year depending on the nature of the accident and how many incidents are recorded.

"A quick investigation of previous years show that damages can vary between $20,000 and $100,000 – and many happen in evenings and during weekends, when overtime naturally occurs," Blais said.

Litke said it's unclear whether Minister Todd Stone will do anything about it.

"Last year we passed a resolution on speed cameras in school zones and within 45 minutes the Premier made a statement saying it would never happen," he said.

"Stone has made no comment on this one yet."

ICBC spokesperson Michelle Hargrave said ICBC has not made any changes to what they pay for in a claim, including claims made by municipalities.

"Any driver who causes damage to property is legally responsible for certain costs and, as their auto insurer, we will pay for those legally-obligated costs," she said in an email. "At the same time, we are always prepared to look at any individual claim where a municipality feels they haven’t been properly paid."

Blue Divider Line

Cellphone Use While Driving: Court Finds Drivers Can Handle Phones Briefly

A recent Ontario Court of Justice decision has declared that briefly handling your cellphone while behind the wheel should not get you a ticket under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act distracted driving provisions.

A bit of background…

On October 26, 2009, amendments to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) came into force prohibiting drivers from holding or using hand-held wireless communication devices, such as cellphones, while driving a motor vehicle in the province of Ontario. The law permits drivers to continue to use such devices in "hands-free" mode. In addition, drivers are entitled to use hand-held devices to contact police, fire or other emergency services or where the vehicle is off the road, not in motion and not impeding traffic.

So what happened…

On April 26, 2010, Khojasteh Kazemi was given a ticket under ss. 78.1(1) of the HTA for holding an opened flip cellphone in her hand while stopped in her car at a red light.

She alleges that the cellphone which was on the car seat, dropped to the floor. When the car was stopped at the red light she was just retrieving it, not using it to make a call.

The police officer did not believe her, did not check if the phone was in use, and issued the ticket. Kazemi contested the ticket.

At trial, Kazemi's lawyer argued that the prosecution had to prove that Kazemi was in fact using the device while it was in her hand when the police officer came upon her.

The Crown argued any touching of a cellphone is prohibited, even if unrelated to its function.

The justice of the peace stated that it was enough that Kazemi was holding the cellphone, and further stated, "This sufficed for the purpose of the subsection. Whether it was in use or not was irrelevant given the wording of the section."

The justice of the peace also rejected the defense attorney's argument that ss. 78.1(1) requires proof that the device was in operation. The justice of the peace found that:


…so long as the phone was capable of operating, the offence was made out. The reason the legislature introduced the subsection was to combat the mishaps and accidents caused by people using such a device. The officer testified that the device was a brand name cellphone and that it was flipped open. The justice of the peace accepted this evidence and held that this element of the offence was made out.

Kazemi was convicted and fined $200, and appealed.

On appeal, the Court of Justice had to deal with the interpretation of “holding” a hand-held wireless communication device under section 78.1 of the Act:



78.1(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.

After analysis, the Court found:


…the "holding" of such devices is prohibited by the subsection since the holding in addition to the use of such devices creates a potential danger on the road. Using such a device may require the device to be operable. However, it is not necessary for the device to be operable for a person to be liable for holding the device. The distraction and interference with driving occurs whether the device is operable at the time or not. For example, a cellphone whose battery is so low as to be unable to transmit or receive calls, will still pose a distraction to a driver who, unaware of this, decides to hold or attempt to use it.

However, "holding" must mean more than simply having or carrying a device.

Consequently, the judge reasoned:



…to be "holding" a hand-held wireless communication device requires more than merely touching or a brief handling of such a device. This interpretation is consistent with the common meaning of the term "holding" and the objective of the legislation. Given the objective is to promote road safety by banning resort to and the use of such devices while operating a motor vehicle, it is not necessary to prohibit a driver from merely touching a cellphone, for example, just to hand it to a passenger or to move it within the car. The short mental distraction and physical interference with the ability to drive caused by such acts are not intended to be caught by the provision. There must be some sustained physical holding of the device in order to meet the definition found within ss. 78.1(1).

The judge found the conviction unreasonable and acquitted Kazemi of the charge.

Surely many Ontario drivers will feel relief from this ruling, which not only clarifies the prohibition on cellphone use while driving in the HTA, but also provides a potential defence in the event one is caught with cellphone in hand.

Not that I recommend drivers lie to police officers or that they drive while using a cellphone or similar device. It is clear that using such devices while driving is distracting and I would say inherently dangerous. Driving while distracted won't always lead directly to dangerous behaviour, but it vastly increases the risks. I imagine most drivers (and passengers) have noticed another driver acting dangerously while talking on a phone.

It is not a question of whether other legal activities are not also distracting. A good driver will always remain focused on driving, not on eating or reading or putting on makeup. And whether explicitly prohibited or not, all of these activities are potentially dangerous and should be treated as such by police. (That is, they should result in penalties.)

The prohibition on cellphone use while driving will always be hard to enforce, but this ruling will make the law fairer. I'd say the purpose of the law is not actually to prevent drivers from talking on their hand-held phones while driving, but rather to provide a framework to penalize them when they are caught or when cellphone use is involved in a collision.

The only way to change the behaviour is to make drivers understand the potential for danger that they cause when they drive while distracted. Public education campaigns will help, as will public censure. That is, when it becomes "uncool" to drive while talking on a hand-held phone, fewer people will do it. Another way is to make it mandatory for driving instructors to discuss the dangers of distracted driving with their students.

Since it is impossible for police to have their eyes on drivers at all times, it is crucial that drivers, passengers and others "self-police" by discouraging all forms of distracted driving.

Unfortunately, in the mean time, it is likely that many guilty drivers who are caught red-handed will attempt to use the "I just dropped my phone defence," and some will succeed. But the ruling will also allow innocent drivers to defend themselves legitimately, rather than forcing them to pay a fine for an offence they did not commit.

Blue Divider Line

Paying for repairs

Depending on your claim, when you pick up your vehicle, you may have to pay the shop:
  • a deductible—the amount you have to pay for repairs or costs before your insurance kicks in to pay for the rest

  • a portion of the cost of depreciation—when previously damaged or worn parts are repaired or replaced, or previously damaged or worn bodywork is painted

  • HST (applies to “HST registrants” only)

If your repair shop doesn’t accept ICBC estimates, you will have to pay the full cost of repairs and apply to ICBC to be reimbursed.

Source: ICBC Repairing Your Vehicle May 30, 2012

Blue Divider Line

Increase in body-injury claims to prompt ICBC rate hike
By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun November 29, 2011

Workers at the ICBC damaged vehicle lot at the south end of the Queensborough Bridge in Richmond, BC., November 29, 2011. ICBC is applying to raise rates by an average of $30 per year.

British Columbia drivers can expect to pay an average of $30 more for auto insurance next year to offset rapidly rising body-injury claims and declining income from the Insurance Corp. of B.C.’s investments, corporation CEO John Schubert said Tuesday.

The public insurer will reduce premiums for optional coverage to take some of the sting out, but ICBC’s financial picture over the near future is “not sustainable without a rate increase,” Schubert said at a news conference.

ICBC dropped basic premiums by 2.4 per cent in 2010. The last increases were in 2007 when they were raised 3.3 per cent, and 2006 when they went up 6.5 per cent.

Schubert would not reveal the full impact of proposed rate increases for basic liability insurance, the area where ICBC holds a monopoly, saying that the corporation had not finalized the numbers.

However, for drivers who purchase optional collision and comprehensive insurance through ICBC, Schubert said once savings are factored in, the average increase will be less than three per cent, or around $30.

All the details of the proposed premium increases will be included in ICBC’s application to the B.C. Utilities Commission for approval, which is expected by the end of this week and would take effect in February.

Schubert said the corporation couldn’t cite specific reasons for the increasing amount of claims.

However, the number of people injured per crash is rising and Schubert noted the province has seen more extreme weather and road conditions during the period that claims have risen.

“It’s very hard to isolate individual factors,” according to Schubert.

ICBC’s cost of claims has risen to $2.47 billion over the first nine months of 2011, $200 million higher than the same period of 2010, while its revenue has remained flat at around $2.8 billion.

During much of the same period, Schubert added that plummeting interest rates on bond markets has eaten away at its expectations for income for the premiums that ICBC has invested. Over the first nine months of 2011, Schubert said ICBC’s investment income is $38 million lower than the same period of 2010, a figure he expects will deepen to $90 million by the end of the year.

Typically, Schubert said ICBC’s investment income defrays premiums it charges customers, but lower returns mean they are less able to do so.

ICBC’s investment income totalled $341 million at the end of September 2011, compared with $379 million over the same period of 2010.

However, the opposition critic of the Crown corporation in the Legislature questions whether government should have taken so much money out of ICBC for general revenue over recent years.

“ICBC has skimmed hundreds of millions of dollars over the last several years,” said Kathy Corrigan, the NDP critic for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-general, the ministry responsible for ICBC.

“I don’t think it’s fair for [government] to take out revenue at the front end and let the company solve its problems by placing the burden on ratepayers,” she added.

Shirley Bond, the Minister for Public Safety and Solicitor-general, responded that government does plan to continue taking dividends from the Crown corporation, albeit less so.

“There will continue to be a dividend paid to the province, but it will be, as you can imagine, much smaller than the ones have been previously,” Bond said, though declined to offer a figure. “Those funds go to provide other important supports in government.”

Provincial budget documents show ICBC was forecast to contribute $290 million to provincial coffers in fiscal 2011-12, following $361 million in fiscal 2010-11 and $601 million in fiscal 2009-10.

“I think all of us are concerned any time there’s going to be an additional burden on families in British Columbia. But I think ICBC, like the rest of the world, is facing some pretty significant issues,” Bond said.

Corrigan added that she has more questions for ICBC related to the management of claims.

While preparing for last year’s budget debates, Corrigan said she had heard from trial lawyers who told her that ICBC was taking a “cutthroat approach” to the amount it would pay to lawyers to take its insurance cases, which was hurting ICBC’s ability to defend such claims.

And other trial lawyers are of the opinion ICBC is being sued more often because the settlements it offers are too low.

“It’s our experience that more cases are being litigated because of the tactical positions that ICBC has taken,” said Marc Kazimirski, incoming president of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., in an interview. “They are making lower offers — unreasonable offers — and there were fewer mediations, which meant there were more litigated claims.”

ICBC spokesman Mark Jan Vrem said there has been no change in its policy regarding the defence of claims in court.

“The number of trials has in no way driven these results,” Jan Vrem said in an email. “The increased costs are driven by an unexpected increase in frequency [of injury claims.]”

-With files from Jonathon Fowlie and Andrea Woo

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Why don't each of us buy ICBC just one new camera to last us a lifetime, so ICBC can take a picture of us and issue us a renewal drivers license every 5 years?  This amount of money to buy a new camera every 5 years is getting too expensive !!

If you believe that ICBC's $75 renewal fee is a little excessive, please don't hesitate to tell ICBC how you feel!

Below is the letter ICBC sends out to you, warning you to pay or else!

If you owe any money for liquor fines, Family Ministry, etc, you have to pay those to ICBC before ICBC will issue you a drivers license.

$75.00 ICBC BC drivers license renewal fee at August 2011
click for a larger copy

Blue Divider Line

How about a bonus?
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - Janet Brown - 4/12/2011

A Freedom of Information request by CKNW News reveals ICBC paid it's 42 hundred full time unionized regular employees bonuses totalling just over nine million dollars in 2010.

That works out to twenty two hundred and nine dollars per employee..

ICBC's Mark Jen Vrem says the bonuses are part of the collective agreement but are also a reward for doing a good job,"it's flexed on a number of things one of them is net income but more importantly it's customer satisfaction surveys and they seem to be hitting those out of the park and for that we're very grateful and we think they deserve this performance pay."

BC Director of The Canadian Taxpayers Federation Gregory Thomas is critical of the bonuses,"I think drivers and taxpayers are clearly getting hosed by ICBC, this is an organization that doesn't pay taxes, we're supposed to own it and they're more interested in helping themselves than they are in helping us and this is a prime example."

The bonuses have been in place for about a decade and since 2006 have increased roughly 60 per cent.

Blue Divider Line

ICBC investing in B.C. roads
Kelowna Capital News - September 09, 2010

A 2009 evaluation showed that ICBC’s investment in road improvements are helping keep everyone safer.

The evaluation of ICBC’s investment in 102 road improvement projects (from a total of 750 projects), showed a 20 per cent reduction in fatal and severe injury crashes and a 12 per cent reduction in non-injury crashes.

“Road improvements deliver real value to our customers and all road users, from drivers to pedestrians,” said ICBC’s Nicolas Jimenez, director of road safety.

“Over the past 21 years, we’ve invested about $100 million in more than 2,750 road enhancements to help make our roads safer for everyone.”

ICBC’s Road Improvement Program works in partnership with municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to help make our communities safer.

The evaluation, conducted by Dr. Tarek Sayed, professor of civil engineering at UBC and Dr. Paul Deleur, transportation safety engineer, concluded that for every dollar invested, ICBC and its customers see a return five to 12 times the investment.

That is, for every dollar invested, ICBC and its customers save $5.60 over two years and $12.80 over five years in reduced crash costs.

For urban area road improvements, the study evaluated 42 projects where ICBC spent $1.6 million, which resulted in savings of $7.6 million over two years and $19.3 million over five years.

The savings on rural highway areas were even higher. ICBC spent $2.9 million on 60 projects, which resulted in savings of $13.8 million over two years and $35.1 million over five years.

Projects include a wide range of countermeasures, from roundabouts to left hand turn bays, from signs to median barriers. Evaluated projects within the Southern Interior region include:

• Merritt and Kamloops: Improved signals and intersection lanes at Highway 5 and Mt. Paul Way. ICBC invested $31,200 and the improvements resulted in a 56 per cent drop in property damage claims and a 44 per cent drop in severe injury crashes, saving $185,100 over two years and $459,300 over five years.

• Okanagan: Improvement to Highway 97 at Okanagan Lake Park, including expansion to four lanes, improvements to the horizontal alignment and cross-section. ICBC invested $94,800 and the improvements resulted in a 69 per cent drop in property damage claims and 35 per cent drop in severe injury crashes, saving $272,400 over two years and $738,000 over five years.

• Vernon: Improvements to Highway 97 from Swan Lake to Larkin, including expansion to four lanes and structure enhancements. ICBC invested $89,600 and the improvements resulted in a 3 per cent drop in property damage claims and 33 per cent drop in severe injury crashes, saving $101,300 over two years and $343,200 over five years.

“We’re in communities across the province,” said Jimenez.

“Our community partnerships are paramount to the success of this program.”

Blue Divider Line

Are you prepared for the open road??

Say your in Winterpeg and come up to Osborne Street.  You see there is a sign that says no right turn and the traffic light shows a green arrow and a red light.  Do you stop or do you go?  What do you do?

Do you know it was illegal to turn right on a red in Quebec?

It is illegal to drive a wide load while on the Freeway in Vancouver during rush hour, and its also illegal to deliver a wide load on a Sunday in Manitoba.

Blue Divider Line

B.C. father calls for probe into Toyota's 'black boxes'
By: ctvbc.ca - Sunday Aug. 8, 2010

Julia Foy on a father's search for closure

Chris Eves died on Oct. 17, 2007, after his Toyota Tundra crashed head-on into a tree in Washington State. (CTV)

A B.C. man whose son died in a car accident three years ago says he is lobbying Transport Canada to launch an investigation into the effectiveness of the vehicle's "black box" device.

Chris Eves died on Oct. 17th, 2007 when his Toyota Tundra inexplicably veered off a straight, quiet stretch of road in Washington State and crashed head-on into a tree.

Eves had a blood alcohol reading of .08, making him legally impaired, so authorities concluded he fell asleep at the wheel.

But that wasn't enough for his father. Ron Eves wanted to find out what the vehicle's black box, or Event Data Recorder (EDR), would reveal about the crash.

"Unless you have the facts of the loss of a very important family member, it's very difficult to have closure," Eves said.

The box is reportedly able to record speed, how hard the driver is hitting the gas pedal, and whether or not brakes were used leading up to a crash.

He managed to rescue the EDR from the wreckage, but immediately hit a speed bump: only Toyota software can download the information. Eves spent almost three years trying to get the company to download the data so he could have it independently analyzed.

This week, Eves and his family received a report from forensic engineer Bill Rosenbluth. The results, Eves said, were disappointing.

"It would indicate that Toyota's download was less than complete and less than accurate," he said. "Their software's defective."

Eves said the results were troubling because there is no government agency that assures EDR readout tools are properly calibrated, or even capable of reading the information they're processing.

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles this year over problems with accelerators and floor mats. Eves worries his son's truck may have also been faulty, but the EDR data does not offer a definitive answer.

He says he has no plans to sue the auto giant, but is lobbying Transport Canada to investigate EDRs in their products.

"I would never want another family to go through this, and I hope that the government -- in particular the Canadian government -- will take some proactive measures to make sure that these readout devices are, in fact, not faulty."

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy

Blue Divider Line

ICBC to trim basic insurance rates
By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News - May 31, 2010

B.C. motorists may soon get a break on their auto insurance premiums.

ICBC wants to cut basic rates an average of 1.9 per cent effective Nov. 1.

It would be the first cut in more than a decade on the price of compulsory insurance on which the public auto insurer holds a monopoly.

The B.C. Utilities Commission still has to approve the cut.

But ICBC will have to cut much further to get basic rates back down to 2005 levels – increases in 2006 and 2007 raised basic premiums nearly 10 per cent.

"We'd love to see this continue," ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said, but added further basic premium cuts will depend on the strength of ICBC's finances and the costs of accident claims.

"We know basic rates are extremely important to everybody because they apply to all of our customers."

ICBC has made much more frequent cuts to its optional rates – where it competes with other insurers – and now charges 17 per cent less on average for optional coverage than it did five years ago.

Officials credit safer driving by motorists with helping reduce costs.

The announcement came just after ICBC pulled a $1.7-million ad campaign that officials decided was in poor taste due to its sexual content.

ICBC has recorded rising profits so far this year and reported a $563-million profit for 2009, up 13 per cent.

The provincial government this year moved to tap some of the cash ICBC generates to pay down the B.C. deficit.

It ordered ICBC earlier this year to hand over $487 million worth of its reserves that had been generated from the optional side of the business and deemed surplus to the corporation's needs.

Blue Divider Line

ICBC’s blanket no drinking policy on shaky legal ground
Kelowna Capital News - By Robert Smithson - March 30, 2010

According a recent article by Randy Shore, published in the Vancouver Sun, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has implemented a policy banning consumption of alcohol by employees during the work day.

Unfortunately for ICBC, its work day includes a lunch period for which employees are not paid.

The employees’ union, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees (COPE), has already voiced its opposition to this policy.

COPE’s position is, in effect, that the employer is overreaching by attempting to regulate employees’ conduct during periods for which they are not paid.

According to Shore’s article, ICBC’s new policy “specifically prohibits employees from drinking on their lunch hours.”

The article quoted an ICBC representative as saying, “We take the position that any amount of alcohol will not improve an employee’s judgment.”

That’s an interesting, and perhaps poorly expressed, perspective.

There are many other activities employees engage in which won’t improve their judgment—I wonder if ICBC is planning on banning those, too.

Should there be a grievance and a resulting arbitration hearing over this policy, ICBC may find itself in a delicate position.

Surely, in order to convince an arbitrator that such a far-reaching policy is necessary, ICBC must advance the position that it has a widespread problem with employees being impaired on the job.

However, admitting in a public forum that it has a widespread problem with employees showing up impaired for work is something that ICBC (like any employer) surely won’t want to do.

The result is something of a “catch 22” for ICBC.

It’s likely that ICBC will also advance the position that, due to its role as the primary auto insurer in B.C., part of its mandate is to discourage alcohol consumption and that its own operations are the best place to set that example.

Just as a company promoting environmental sustainability may not want its employees chugging to and from work in a Hummer, ICBC may feel that its role is to discourage drinking and driving.

But therein lies the catch—the policy (apparently) doesn’t focus solely on employees consuming alcohol and then operating a motor vehicle.

It is the blanket effect of the policy which may be its downfall.

As admirable as ICBC’s intentions may be, the policy seems on its face to over-reach in its application.

Obviously, consuming alcohol at work is inappropriate as is showing up at work in an impaired state.

But if an employee consumes a pint of beer during lunch hour, and is not in an impaired state as a result, what right does his or her employer have to restrict that conduct?

I think ICBC will find that arbitrators in this province view the attempted regulation of employees’ non-work conduct with skepticism.

That means ICBC has an uphill battle in convincing an arbitrator that this policy is reasonably required.

To be sure, there are some circumstances in which regulation of off-duty conduct is warranted.

If an employee’s conduct brings the employer’s business into disrepute or in some manner (directly or indirectly) affects the employee’s ability to do a job, then the incursion into his or her private life may be deemed warranted.

The range of scenarios in which this is likely to be the case, however, is limited.

My own guess, not knowing anything more about the situation than what has been published in the Vancouver Sun, is that ICBC’s isn’t one of them.

Robert Smithson is a lawyer in Kelowna practicing exclusively in the area of labour and employment law. This subject matter is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice.

rsmithson "at" pushormitchell.com

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ICBC helping to improve roads
Kelowna Capital News - March 25, 2010

ICBC has invested nearly $810,000 in road improvements around Kelowna in 2009.

Most Kelowna residents have seen the improvements along Harvey Avenue and Highway 97. They are among the 21 road enhancement projects that ICBC helped pay for in Kelowna last year to help make roads safer for all users.

Now moving into its third decade, ICBC’s road improvement program invested approximately $1.7 million in the Southern Interior region and $8.1 million across B.C. in 2009 (including the money spent here).

ICBC works in partnership with municipalities and the provincial government on delivering road enhancements. ICBC also participates in engineering studies and assists communities with road safety issues in the planning of roadways and managing traffic.

“The City of Kelowna is committed to ensuring residents can travel safely and efficiently on our roadways. We value the opportunity to work with ICBC to help make our community safer through road improvement projects,” said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd.

Projects proposed for road improvement are assessed to ensure they make B.C. roads safer for all road users.

An independent evaluation of ICBC-funded road improvements found that, measured over a two-year period after a project’s completion, there was an 18 per cent reduction in property damage crashes and a 25 per cent reduction in the number of severe crashes where someone is either killed or seriously injured in the crash.

According to ICBC, the investments helped many British Columbians escape injury and death.

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Now if we can only get ICBC to help fund snow plows and sand trucks, and have all the gas taxes go to ICBC, eh??

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Group urges changes on Drought Hill, Bennett Bridge

Speed traps could soon be appearing regularly at this section of the Bennett Bridge as Protrans, the company that maintains the bridge, looks for a permanent site for police to set up radar in a bid to slow down traffic headed into town from the Westside.

Kelowna Capital News - By Jason Luciw - Published: May 02, 2009

For decades, stories of fatal accidents, collisions with wildlife and near misses on Drought Hill between Peachland and Westbank have been told, time and time again.

As a result, the Highway 97 Task Force Society says it’s time the Ministry of Transportation reconsider the safety-related improvement suggestions that have been made in the past for the dangerous stretch of road.

The group is working on solutions for a Peachland bypass, but recognizes the re-routing of Highway 97 is still several years away.

In the meantime, it says less costly safety initiatives, such as lowering the speed limit and increasing traffic enforcement could be implemented on Drought Hill.

More expensive measures should also be looked at, like adding rumble strips, embedding centre-line reflectors, installing more highway lighting and erecting counter flow medians.

Society president Bob Sugden told the Central Okanagan Regional District board this week that almost one-third of all accidents in the Okanagan happen on less than three per cent of the Highway 97 corridor, including the problematic Drought Hill.

But West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said that area wasn’t his only concern.

In his opinion, a traffic light is needed at the Highway 97 intersection at Clements Crescent, the access point to the Peachland strip mall alongside the highway where the IGA grocery store is laocate. It is also the road that the town’s only elementary school is on.

“For many years, I have dodged the traffic in that area,” said Findlater. “Have you looked at some realignment there or a light on highway 97 that would slow people down and allow (traffic to) safely cross?”

Sugden said traffic engineers have told him that cross-traffic counts at that intersection don’t warrant a light.

As for long term solutions for Highway 97 through Peachland, the society would still like to see a four-lane bypass route built around town, from the Okanagan Connector to Greata Ranch. The board heard Monday night that time is running out for such a route to be built though. As development moves further up Peachland’s hillsides, the available route gets higher and higher and starts to pass through some fairly steep grades.

Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding also told the board that some businesses are becoming more leery of the bypass route too, since having felt a bit of a pinch when Highway 97 had to be closed for almost three weeks due to a rock slide on the Peachland to Summerland four-laning project last fall. They got a sense of what it could be like having less traffic flow through town, stated Fielding.

Sugden said another option remains a four- or six-lane widening of the existing stretch of Highway 97 through Peachland.

Meanwhile, another stretch of Highway 97 where improvements are being considered is the new William R. Bennett Bridge, according to Findlater.

The West Kelowna mayor told his council Tuesday night that the private contractor maintaining the Bennett Bridge, Protrans, is concerned about speeding.

“An eastbound pullout suitable for RCMP speed traps is being looked at,” Findlater told council. “A speed reader board on the bridge is also being considered.”

The speed limit is 60 km/h; however, the Capital News took a photo last year, with RCMP clocking one vehicle going 110 km/h. And typically, most vehicles travel in excess of 70 or 80 km/h depending on the time of day.

At one time, Protrans was also considering the installation of a removable barrier for emergency vehicle access, mentioned Findlater.

“Protrans has not found a suitable structure that is strong but easily removable,” noted the mayor, following a meeting with the maintenance company and various stake holders on Tuesday.

Findlater also said B.C. Transit is reporting a significant drop in ridership from the Westside during the day.

“Which may be due to the increased commercial services on Westbank First Nation lands and/or improved car access to Kelowna resulting from the new bridge.

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HIT AND RUN
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: March 31, 2009

Somewhere in Vernon or surrounding area there is a cream/white four-door sedan late '80s model that needs either a new windshield or passenger side window. I know this because on Jan. 24 at around 11:30 a.m., they left the glass from their window laying beside my van after having sideswiped my vehicle and leaving the scene of the accident. I was parked on 27th Avenue in the 4000 block, half-way into a snowbank, in order to keep my vehicle as much off the road as possible.

A neighbour observed the car in question exit the alley and swerve toward my vehicle then race off. Unfortunately, there was no time to note the license plate number.

I phoned the RCMP and ICBC to report the hit and run. My first surprise was that Vernon RCMP do not attend hit and runs if the perpetrator is unknown. They took down my name, plate number, phone number and gave me a file number.

I then called ICBC. They took down my name, plate number, phone number, gave me a claim number and gave me an appointment for an adjustor to see it. When I took my van in to be inspected I was informed that after the work was completed I would have to pay the deductible and ICBC would take care of the rest.

"But I was the victim of a hit and run," I said naively. Without a license plate number of the person who hit you, the deductible is payable by you.

"But I have a file with the RCMP acknowledging that I reported a hit and run." Without the license plate number, you are responsible for the deductible.

"But I have a picture of someone else's glass lying beside my van." Without a license plate number, you are responsible for the deductible.

How does this happen? I was parked legally. I was not at fault but I am the one who will pay.

It happens because of other people's dishonesty. They do not hesitate to rip off the system. Drivers cause damage to their own vehicles and then claim it was a hit and run and while we're at it, let's claim that old ding or chip happened at the same time.

It happens because irresponsible drivers cause damage to other vehicles and just drive off. After all, what harm can it really do – the other person has insurance, the company will take care of it? Wrong. Depending on the deductible, it will cost the other person upwards of $300 and that is not taking into account any other expense such as car rental or taxi.

I am a senior citizen living on a fixed income and these unexpected expenses are a real hardship for me but I will manage to cover it because I need to have transportation available.

It's not fair and I feel angry about it. I would appeal to the person who did it to me to come forward if I thought it would be of any use, but I know it won't, because if you were a person who cared, or had any integrity at all you would have taken responsibility at the time of the incident.

Pauline Boone

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ICBC defends its record
Vernon Morning Star - Letters - Published: January 22, 2009

There have been recent discussions regarding auto insurance in B.C. and other provinces, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share some key differences.

It is difficult to make direct comparisons between auto insurance rates in one province compared to another as each province and policy is different. What we can say for certain is that ICBC’s insurance rates are low and stable, where rates in other provinces tend to fluctuate much more

As an example, in 2008 our combined basic and optional rate went down by 1.3 per cent, and over the past five years rates have only gone up by $2 for customers who have purchased the same Basic and Optional coverage.

Motorists in B.C. benefit from some of the best insurance coverage in the country. Our unrestricted tort system offers one of the highest no-fault medical and rehab benefits in Canada ($150,000) which is three to six times more than offered by some other provinces with tort.

Perhaps the most meaningful direct comparison we can make is based on the loss ratio – which is ratio of claims and claims related costs to insurance premium dollars earned. The industry average is about 72 cents paid out for every premium dollar. At ICBC, the ratio is about 87 cents per dollar.

Instead of comparing provinces, we should make comparisons in B.C. where there is competition for optional insurance. The vast majority of motorists are continuing to come to us for their optional insurance which tells us that our rates are competitive and our coverage is the best.

Is ICBC perfect? No, but it will always work hard to provide the best possible value and customer service.

Jon Schubert
ICBC president and CEO

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Warranty alert issued
By Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star - News - Published: January 23, 2009

Vernon RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk is well aware of an extended automobile warranty scam that has hit B.C.

He’s had someone call his home phone offering up an extended warranty for his car if he gives them his credit card number.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received inquiries regarding a live or automated telephone call informing them that the warranty on their vehicles may be expiring soon.

“I had one of those calls on our answering machine the other day, and the thing is our warranty is nearing the end,” said Molendyk. “I thought, ‘forget it, I’m not interested,’ and didn’t pay attention to it. Our call display showed the call originated from the United States.”

The BBB said consumers are confused by the phone calls because in many cases they have older vehicles not eligible for warranties, and that callers have used pressure tactics to urge people to reveal personal information and credit card numbers.

“I’ve never heard of auto dealers extending a warranty, and they’re not going to extend for five years because now you’ve got a 10-year-old vehicle, and they’re not going to extend it for a couple of hundred dollars,” said Molendyk. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Why not deal with the dealer you’ve dealt with?”

Consumers are being contacted by a company representative advising that their vehicle warranty will expire in two days. The person on the phone claims information was provided by the manufacturer that provided the original warranty.

Consumers are then offered a five-year extended warranty for $175 to $400, and asked to provide a credit card number. The representative tells them they can contact a warranty centre.

Telephone prefixes have been appearing on customers’ phones from across the U.S. and even Canada, but police believe the numbers are being “spoofed,” or changed to hide the identity of the call’s origins.

This latest phone solicitation scam to hit B.C. has led to a cease and desist order from the province’s Financial Institutions Commission.

The order concerns automated messages that are trying to sell after-market vehicle warranties.

If you receive one of these calls, BBB suggests you refer to your original vehicle documents, talk with your car dealer, check with the BBB, check to see if the warranty provider is licensed, and be suspicious of low prices.

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Radar traps come to back country
By Judie Steeves - Kelowna Capital News - Published: January 08, 2009

Campers and logging truck drivers had better beware: Big Brother is going to be watching for you—even on the back roads.

Forest minister Pat Bell announced Thursday his ministry has bought six new radar guns so that the three forest regions in the province will have two more each to use to police drivers going over the speed limit on forest service roads.

The two or three compliance and enforcement officers based out of each of B.C.’s 29 forest districts will be trained in the use of the radar guns, Bell said.

There’s a network of 59,000 kilometres of forest service roads in the province.

Bell said the program is supported by the RCMP, ICBC and Conservation Officer Service.

As well, the minister said his ministry will put speed boards up in different locations to increase drivers’ awareness of their speed.

The idea is to improve safety for forest workers and the public, he said.

“Initially, the main focus is to improve compliance and safe driving practices through education and awareness,” said Bell.

“But make no mistake, officers are empowered to give tickets and chronic, repeat offenders could be subject to fines of up to $1 million for speeding and dangerous driving on a forest service road.

The maximum speed limit on forest service roads is either as posted or 80 kilometres an hour.

“This is particularly true for recreational users and smaller vehicles. The rules for forest service roads apply to all users,” Bell said.

Ministry spokesperson Jennifer McLarty said in a Powell River pilot project last year, the main offenders were recreational users of the road and the general public, including users of all-terrain vehicles.

As well, the ministry has made road infrastructure improvements, and is testing another pilot project to standardize radio call procedures and road signs.

TruckSafe has expanded its vehicle identification plates program to make it simpler and easier to report unsafe driving incidents.

jsteeves [at] kelownacapnews.com

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Passionate about getting correct info to the public
Kelowna Capital News - Opinion - Published: January 01, 2009

I don’t advertise my occupation when I’m out and about, unless I’m at a Chamber of Commerce function where circulating business cards is the expected activity.

With much of the population believing that car crash lawyers are shady characters who make bags of money helping undeserving whiners screw the insurance company, I’d rather avoid the issue.

It also avoids dealing with those folks who see the opportunity to get a little free legal advice. I don’t mind helping out, but giving legal advice is what I go to the office all day to get paid for doing.

The topic is hard to avoid, though. When meeting new people, exchanging occupation details is about as commonplace as exchanging names and sharing how many kids you have.

And as much as I try to avoid the topic coming up, I am occasionally very happy that it does.  From time to time, the person I am talking to has either been injured in a crash or is close to someone else who has suffered a similar fate.  Those people don’t have so much of a bias against car crash lawyers because they know that crash injuries are real and that injured victims need all the help they can get when going against the insurance company.

I am often the first car crash lawyer he or she has talked to. I get a kick out of giving the “straight goods” that he or she is not getting from the insurance adjuster.

I had my best encounter of this kind during this past Christmas season.  A lady I was chatting with mentioned a crash she had been in. She wasn’t digging for free legal advice, just bringing up something that we would have remotely in common.

In the course of our discussion, she told me in a “matter of fact” way that she didn’t have a claim because she didn’t have the license plate number of the vehicle that had caused the crash.  She had been given that “information” from the insurance adjuster she had consulted when she had gone to make a claim for compensation for the losses she had suffered arising from the crash.

She didn’t have a license plate number because the offending driver had taken off instead of pulling over to exchange information as had been agreed.

Perhaps I shouldn’t still get so livid when I hear about insurance adjusters giving false or misleading information to crash victims.  Unfairness just gets under my skin. A huge insurance company taking advantage of the position of authority that the general public perceives it to have is at the far end of offensive to me.

It’s simply dead wrong that you need to have a license plate number in order to make a claim.  You need to take reasonable steps to determine the identity of the offending driver, and having the license plate number is helpful to make that determination, but if reasonable steps are taken and no information can be determined, that is no bar to a claim.

I discussed the rules related to this kind of claim in some detail in my previous column of June 1, 2008, which can be found in my web site archive.  I took such intense pleasure filling the lady in on the correct information. Fortunately, our chance meeting occurred before the expiration of some critical deadlines—deadlines which, if missed, could truly eliminate her claim.

Along with the pleasure, though, came a deep frustration.  Why did it take a chance meeting at a friend’s Christmas season open house for this lady to get the most basic of accurate information about her legal rights arising from a crash?

How many others are in her position of having received misinformation from the insurance company?

That’s the main reason why I take the time each week to write this column. It is to replace misinformation with accurate information. It is to combat unfairness arising from a misplaced trust in the insurance company. It is to reach out to people like this lady to assist in achieving the very basic objective of justice.

This column is intended to provide general information about personal injury claims. It is not a substitute for retaining a lawyer to provide legal advice specifically pertaining to your case.

For an archive of Paul Hergott’s published columns, see www.hergottlaw.ca. Paul Hergott is a lawyer with Hergott Law in West Kelowna.

If there are particular issues you would like discussed in this column, please e-mail him directly at:

paul [at] hlaw.ca.

http://www.paulhergott.com/

Blue Divider Line

When it comes to injury claims keep an eye on the clock
Kelowna Capital News - Opinion - Published: October 04, 2008

Injustice makes my skin crawl.

We are exposed to life’s minor injustices on a regular basis—an impatient shopper cutting in line, a schoolyard bully stealing a treat, a cheater.

Even the minor ones are hard to take. I want to jump in, send the shopper to the back of the line, return the treat, disqualify the cheater.

Of course, I am not alone. I like to think that we all have that sense of fairness.

How often, though, do we actually get to stop injustice in its tracks?

Not long ago, I was consulted by a fellow who had been injured in a car crash through no fault of his own.

It was just over two years after the crash and the pain from those injuries had become chronic.

He was looking for a lawyer to help him achieve fair compensation for his injuries.

How I wished he had come to me just a couple weeks earlier.

Have you ever heard of a limitation period?  It is a time limit.

If a lawsuit is not started within the time limit, the right to fair compensation expires.

One day, you have a claim and the next day, the claim is gone.

The fellow who consulted me had been dealing directly with the insurance company.

I don’t know whether the adjuster handling his claim mentioned the limitation period but I do know, with certainty, that he wasn’t sufficiently warned because he didn’t come to me until after the limitation period had expired.

One day he had a case and the next day he didn’t.

I wonder how many of the hundreds of millions of dollars of insurance company profits are made up of cases like that one. I wonder if they uncorked champagne.

Is your skin crawling?  Hang on. I have a better story.

It was a Friday afternoon. I had just returned to the office from a type of pre-trial hearing.

A lady called me over as I was heading into my office. She asked me if I did any personal injury work. (No, she doesn’t read this column.)

She told me about her sister who had been in a crash a couple of years earlier.

She had been dealing directly with the insurance company but had finally decided to hire a lawyer.

I don’t know exactly what the insurance adjuster told her but I do know what she had come to understand from those discussions.

She understood that if she didn’t settle her claim within

two years, she would have to hire a lawyer.

Her sister was helping her find a lawyer.

She happened to see me coming into my office and happened to inquire.

Get this: It was two years to the day after the crash.

In my mind’s eye, I could already see the bottles of champagne lined up, on ice at the insurance company offices.

In 2 hours, the court registry where the lawsuit had to be filed would close.

In 150 minutes, the claim would be gone.

There’s something about a looming deadline that focuses you.

There’s also something about 150 minutes standing between justice and injustice that stokes the fire under your boiler. 

Fortunately, we live in a technological world. I was able to contact the sister on her cell phone.

Once I explained the urgency of the situation, she immediately left work went home and gave me the necessary information from the police report.

I left an urgent message for the adjuster but, of course, I couldn’t rely on a timely response from him.

I prepared the writ on my computer, printed, signed, scanned and filed it electronically.

It was a sweet thing seeing that electronically affixed court registry date stamp on the document.

Injustice averted—by a hair.

I’m not a champagne kind of guy. I cracked a beer or two.

There’s a lesson in this.  You cannot rely on an insurance company to advise you about your rights. That’s not its role.

Its allegiance is to the driver who caused the crash and to its bottom line, not to you.

Another lesson? Sometimes the stars really do line up.

This column is intended to provide general information about injury claims. It is not a substitute for retaining a lawyer to provide legal advice specifically pertaining to your case.

Paul Hergott is a lawyer with Hergott Law on the Westside. If there are particular issues you would like discussed in this column, please e-mail Paul directly at:

paul "at" hlaw.ca

http://www.paulhergott.com/

Blue Divider Line

Whiplash rates turning heads in BC
British Columbia's claims rate for whiplash, about 900 per 100,000 population, is more than twice the rate for any other jurisdiction in the world, the BC Medical Journal reports. Dr. Murray Allen, a former associate professor of kinesiology at Simon Fraser University, says whiplash accounts for about 60% of all injuries reported following vehicle collisions in BC, compared with 35% worldwide (BCMJ 2002;44:241-2). He says part of the "high claims behaviour" may be explained by lawyers' earning potential from such cases. — CMAJ

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Ombudsman Reports on ICBC’s Minimal/No Damage-Low Velocity Impact Program
VICTORIA – Provincial Ombudsman Howard Kushner today released Special Report No. 26, a report on his office’s investigation of a program initiated by ICBC to deal with claims arising from low-velocity motor vehicle accidents. “Our concern from the outset of our investigation was that it appeared that some people with legitimate claims were being denied compensation and benefits,” noted Kushner.

BC Ombudsman Special Report #26

-------------------------------

In addition to the concerns raised during our investigation, ICBC’s internal audit corroborated problems of inconsistency in the application of the Program, identifying problems with the way ICBC had handled over 38 percent of the 494 bodily injury claims examined. from page 11

BC Ombudsman Special Report #26

--------------------------------

In accordance with section 23 of the Ombudsman Act, I notified ICBC that our investigation concluded that ICBC acted in an arbitrary and unfair manner in creating and maintaining a Program from 1992 until 2003 that erected unfair barriers to recognizing claims stemming from a large number of motor vehicle accidents.

Our investigation concluded that the Program, as it existed from its inception in 1992 until it was modified in 2003, was inadequate and contravened our Office’s standards of fairness for an administrative program. I have made the following recommendation, which stems from this finding, pursuant to section 23 of the Ombudsman Act:
That ICBC review any claim that was closed under the MND/LVI Program if people approach ICBC maintaining that their claims were unfairly denied under that Program. ICBC’s final response to our investigation, provided in a letter dated April 29, 2004, is included in the Appendix.

Although my Office regrets that ICBC has declined to accept the above recommendation, I note that a positive outcome of our Ombudsman initiated investigation has been the many claims that were reviewed by ICBC and adjusted on their merits. from page 14

BC Ombudsman Special Report #26

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One family not surprised by ICBC scandal
April 13, 2008 - Kelowna Capital News

To the editor:

So ICBC has been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Somehow this doesn’t surprise me.

I say they should be investigated, to find out what is really going on.

Like many government agencies, they have been ripping people off for too long and are getting away with too much.

As our family found out, in the eyes of ICBC you are guilty till proven innocent.

In 2005, our daughter was in a car accident where she was rear-ended at a yield sign. The car was a write-off and she was taken to Kelowna General Hospital.

Over three years she would see four different specialists, all concluding she would have permanent damage for the rest of her life.

As this was not enough evidence for ICBC, they proceeded to request all her school records and all employment history.

The icing on the cake was the day they would bring her in a room to discuss the death of her brother, who died in a work related accident in 2004.

She was asked why she never went to see a psychiatrist. That day was a very bad day for her. How dare they bring up a matter that is none of their business and what does this have to do with her accident? Our family is so disgusted with ICBC, they have no right to be getting away with what they are doing.

Mona Filiatrault,
Kelowna

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Just look at ICBC's profit and accumulated surplus of 2.1 billion!

Taylor gets ICBC bonus pay
By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News - April 08, 2008
 
ICBC Departing ICBC president Paul Taylor will still get to spend his bonus pay cheque for steering the public auto insurer to record-setting profits last year.

Taylor resigned Friday amid controversy over vehicles ICBC repaired and sold – some with undisclosed crash histories to the unsuspecting public and other better buys to ICBC staff who trumped all other bidders in rigged auctions.

ICBC won't say exactly how big Taylor's bonus pay package is this year.

But he collected an extra $60,000 two years ago for 2005, in addition to his base salary of $300,000.

"We aren't giving out specific performance pay amounts," said ICBC spokesman Doug Henderson, adding the corporation now only discloses total remuneration paid to employees in a year-end financial report.

In 2006, Taylor earned a total of $421,000 in pay (including performance pay) and claimed expenses totalling $58,500.

The equivalent figures for 2007 won't be released for several weeks.

Performance bonuses were paid out on March 20.

ICBC last year recorded a huge $642 million profit – its highest ever – although about $135 million of that came from the one-time sale of its Central City property in Surrey.

ICBC's accumulated surplus has ballooned to $2.1 billion.

Financial performance is one of the main criteria for awarding bonus pay.

Because Taylor departed voluntarily he does not receive any severance pay.

ICBC and government officials say Taylor's departure to pursue new opportunities was unrelated to the scandal over salvage cars.

An investigation by independent auditors is underway and the RCMP are also reviewing the matter.

Taylor has said he learned of the improprieties in late January.

He becomes president and director of NaiKun Wind Group Inc., a firm that plans to build windmills in Hecate Strait off the Queen Charlotte Islands.

"I am proud to be joining a leader in clean-energy development," Taylor said in a NaiKun press release. "It is an exciting and unparalleled opportunity to build a project, an industry and a legacy of clean, renewable power for the province."

NaiKun contributed $4,740 to the B.C. Liberal party last year, Elections BC records show.

Taylor stays on with ICBC until May 2.

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ICBC repair shop probed
By Tom Fletcher - Peace Arch News - March 04, 2008

ICBC repair shop probed

VICTORIA – Independent auditors have been hired to examine reports that the Insurance Corporation of B.C. sold vehicles repaired at its Burnaby research centre without disclosing to buyers that they had been written off in accidents.

ICBC identified as many as 174 vehicles where the repairs may not have been properly documented and disclosed to purchasers, as required by provincial law.

Solicitor General John Les said Thursday that the Material Damage Research and Training Centre has reopened after being closed in early February when the allegations came to light, but no further vehicles will be sold until the independent investigation is done.

Les said all the people who bought cars from the research facility have been contacted, and the vehicles inspected to ensure they are safe. He was unable to say whether buyers would receive compensation.

ICBC disclosed the problem in a statement issued Feb. 13, in which it declined to comment further until the investigation is complete.

Les said the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse-Coopers and an independent law firm are handling the investigation.

In the legislature last week, NDP critics called on the government to prevent ICBC from handling its own investigation of what NDP leader Carole James called “ICBC’s alleged chop shop.”

Les replied that independent auditors and lawyers were in charge of the investigation, and he would make the findings available when their work is complete.

The facility repairs about 20 vehicles a year and employs 12 ICBC staff.

Blue Divider Line

Optional insurance reduced
From the Vernon Morning Star March 16, 2008

ICBC is moving to trim optional auto insurance premiums after recording a huge $642-million profit for 2007.

Optional premiums are to fall three per cent or an average of $16, while basic rates stay frozen — the public insurer had warned last fall it might have to increase them due to rising injury claims.

"Our early analysis indicates that there is no need for additional rate changes for basic insurance," ICBC president and CEO Paul Taylor said.

The reason for the cut in optional rates is that motorists and police are increasingly winning the war against auto thieves in B.C. The continued trend of falling car thefts has translated into fewer claims and lower insurance costs.

Annual payouts due to car theft are down more than $30 million or almost one third over the past five years.

ICBC spokesman Doug McClelland credits the use of the bait car program to catch thieves in the act, as well as innovative new tactics being used by police to curb chronic car thieves.

But he said the single biggest factor has been the growing prevalence of vehicle immobilizers that stop thieves from hot-wiring a car if the key is absent.

Most of ICBC's record profit — far above the old record of $373 million in 2004 — came from investment earnings.

The one-time sale of ICBC's Central City property in Surrey contributed $135 million alone.

The profit jump pushes ICBC's accumulated surplus up 40 per cent to $2.1 billion. The money is needed to cover long-term claims payouts and has now hit its target level ahead of schedule.

Critics frequently contend that ICBC seeks to lower rates on optional insurance — where it competes with private firms –

ICBC has cut its optional premiums in three of the last four years, while boosting basic rates in two of those years.

But McClelland said there's a good reason for that.

Basic premiums primarily pay for injury costs, which continue to rise at a consistent rate of around $100 million per year, in contrast to vehicle damage costs that have trended downward.

"By and large those costs are going in different directions," he said.

Actual insurance costs in 2008 will depend on each vehicle, motorist and factors like where they live and what coverage they select.

McClelland said the typical motorist who buys optional coverage from ICBC has seen only a net increase of $2 in their insurance costs over the past five years —

The optional rate reduction takes effect July 1.

"After five years, rates effectively have not changed for most customers," he said.

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January 9, 2008 another email was sent to Reg Fredrickson regarding the 18 cars in the ditch up Bear Creek as seen on CHBC TV news ... I was wrong it was 18 cars in the ditch on one street, 5 vehicles in the ditch up Bear Creek, and 3 in the ditch on Hayman Road, which totals 26 vehicles in the ditch in one day in Kelowna.

CHBC News TV story called "Crashes Galore"

more about road maintenance

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Road Rage School

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If you have a dispute with ICBC - ICBC Fairness Process

If you have a complaint about ICBC, you can try here first Customer Relations may also be able to help you.

If you are not satisfied that you have been treated fairly after the FPRD has reviewed your situation, you may wish to contact the ICBC Fairness Commissioner. Please note that the Commissioner does not deal with decisions involving the assessment of liability. You can write to the ICBC Fairness Commissioner at the following address:

ICBC Fairness Commissioner
P.O. Box 86686
North Vancouver BC V7L 4L2

If you remain dissatisfied after attempting to resolve your issue through the available remedies, you may contact the Office of the BC Ombudsman and they will review your concerns to determine whether or not they will investigate your complaint.

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"Man who run in front of car get tired"
"Man who run behind car get exhausted"

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