British Columbia

Car stolen? It may still cost you, as Kamloops man finds out

A man in Kamloops, B.C., is warning vehicle owners about the perils of opting out of theft insurance after being told he has to foot the hefty bill to recover his pickup truck, which was stolen months ago.

ICBC says the issue has nothing to do with its policies, if insurance wasn't purchased

This is all that's left of Will Iblings's pickup truck, which was found at the bottom of a ravine on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford, B.C. (Jack's Towing)

A man in Kamloops, B.C., is warning vehicle owners about the perils of opting out of theft insurance after he's been forced to foot a hefty bill to recover his stolen pickup truck. 

His truck was a 1996 GMC worth about $1,300, and Will Iblings didn't think twice when he declined getting comprehensive auto insurance on it. 

"Since the value on it was so low, I figured if something did happen to it, I'd be able to replace it fairly easily," Iblings said.

The comprehensive insurance would have covered theft of the truck, but it was a risk the 28-year-old was willing to take.

So, when the truck did get stolen over the May long weekend this year, he reported it to police but figured he would just have to absorb the loss himself.

Months went by with no news about what had happened to it.

"To be honest, especially after this long, I kind of gave up hope as far as finding it or hearing anything," he said. 

Will Iblings and his wife, Hannah, were shocked to hear they would have to pay at least $2,000 to recover his stolen pickup truck — and it's especially painful right before Christmas. (Will Iblings)

Unexpected — and pricey — call

But a little more than a week ago, he got an unexpected call from a towing company in Abbotsford, B.C., which is more than 280 kilometres away from his home. 

His truck had been found at the bottom of a 450-metre ravine on Sumas Mountain, and the towing company told him he was going to have to pay at least $2,000 to get it out. 

The call had come in on a Friday, and the towers told him the GMC would be towed the following Monday. 

Abbotsford police confirm they found the truck and reached out to Jack's Towing — the company with the main towing contract for the city. 

They added, the truck couldn't stay where it was, because it could be an environmental hazard. 

Iblings was shocked.

He figured that because he had reported the truck stolen it was no longer his responsibility — similar to reporting a credit card theft. 

Will Iblings says he paid about $1,300 for his work truck. Given how little he paid for it, he didn't think it was worth getting comprehensive auto insurance for it. (Will Iblings)

No insurance, no claim

Not so, according to ICBC. 

"With no insurance coverage, the vehicle owner is responsible for towing costs as the vehicle is the property of the owner," ICBC said in a written statement. 

An ICBC spokesman explained that the issue has nothing to do with the insurer's policies — if comprehensive insurance wasn't purchased, there's no claim to be made. 

When Iblings spoke to ICBC, they told him there is no statute of limitations on when the last owner of a vehicle — identified by the traceable vehicle identification number — could be expected to pay for these types of costs. 

"I don't understand how reporting it stolen, going through all the correct paperwork and everything, how something like this can still be my responsibility after not only seven months, but five years, 20 years, 30 years," Iblings said. 

Now that Iblings knows this information, he has been warning others. He doesn't want anyone else to land in a similar situation.

"Everyone we've talked to has no idea that this is an issue. And so it's not even on their radar for them," he said.

"If I had known this was even a possibility, it definitely would have swayed my options and my decision-making process as I went through the insurance." 

The truck was recovered from the ravine on Saturday. Iblings says he hasn't received the bill yet, but he will grudgingly pay it when he does. 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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