British Columbia

B.C. introduces legislation to limit auto insurance claims

The British Columbia government has introduced legislation that will attempt to restore the finances of the public auto insurance agency.

Limits of $5.5K for pain and suffering on minor injury claims to take effect April 1, 2019

The B.C. government has introduced legislation that would impose a limit of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims. (Robert Crum/Shutterstock)

The British Columbia government has introduced legislation that will attempt to restore the finances of the public auto insurance agency.

Attorney General David Eby had promised changes to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia as it faced a forecasted deficit of $1.3 billion.

The proposed changes introduced Monday in the legislature include a limit of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims and faster resolutions of disputes. 

The bill defines a minor injury as a "physical or mental injury ... that does not result in a serious impairment or a permanent serious disfigurement" and is not resolved in 12 months. It gives the government broad power to define specific minor injuries in the future. 

"The core pieces are to get minor injury disputes out of the B.C. Supreme Court system," said Eby. 

"We need to be able to respond as cases go forward to ensure our definition stays up to date."

If approved, the changes will set up a resolution process for cases under $50,000 that allows them to be resolved in as little as 90 days instead of two to three years.

Eby says for years, drivers have had to pay more to cover the agency's spiralling legal and administrative costs.

The government says the changes are necessary to help address the massive growth in the cost of injury claims, which jumped 80 per cent between 2009 and 2016.

If passed, the changes will take effect on April 1, 2019. Further changes to insurance rates, based on driving history, are expected later this year.

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