ICBC to debut new regulations limiting expert witness in auto injury suits

Published: February 18, 2019

Updated: February 28, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Among the measures the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia will implement to cut costs are new auto injury lawsuit rules. The British Columbia government says the measures will also have financial benefits for private carriers as well.

On Monday, Attorney General David Eby said those involved in auto injury lawsuits will only be allowed a maximum of three expert witnesses under most circumstances. ICBC is losing over $1 billion per year and has devised several reforms to help reduce costs.

“This amended regulation will have a positive impact on ICBC’s bottom line,” the Ministry of the Attorney General told Canadian Underwriter Thursday. “Restricting the number of experts allowed in litigated cases will generate a one-time, $400-million saving for ICBC for this fiscal year, and an estimated $30 million annually thereafter.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has long called for British Columbia to adopt private auto insurers for standard coverage. Currently, the ICBC is the monopoly provider of basic coverage, but IBC believes private companies would help the market and reduce premiums.

While the B.C. government has ignored the call, the new regulations do have benefits for private insurers, who currently sell additional non-mandatory coverages in the province.

Last month, ICBC defended itself from organizations pushing for private companies to sell basic auto insurance.

“It’s simply not an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Bill Carpenter, ICBC’s vice president of insurance. “B.C. is the last province in Canada with an unrestricted litigation-based insurance model – a full tort system with no current restriction on what you can sue for, no matter how small your injury. A full tort product is simply more expensive compared to one with caps/limits, or no fault systems generally.”

Carpenter also points to other provinces having more rural towns and less congestion, while drier climates are also a factor.

“ICBC’s Basic premiums also include components to cover driver licensing fees and road safety costs,” he added.

“When it comes to the suggestion that other provinces have better benefits, early this year ICBC announced significant improvements to its accident benefits – changes which will make ICBC’s accident benefits by far the most generous of tort systems across Canada.”