British Columbia

ICBC calls up 45% in week of wintry weather

Exceptional winter weather meant a 45 per cent spike in ICBC calls last week, with more crashes leaving vehicles undriveable and waiting for repairs.

Calls to insurer surged during last week's snow and freezing rain, with increase in non-driveable claims

An exceptional amount of snow on Vancouver streets this winter has left some drivers slipping, sliding and crashing. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Along with blocked highways, closed schools, and halted mail delivery, last week's epic snowfall and freezing rain also led to a crush of crashes in B.C.

Calls to ICBC were up 45 per cent in the second week of February, compared to the same week in 2016:

  • Feb. 7-13, 2017: 25,460 calls
  • Feb. 5-11, 2016: 17,575 calls

On Monday of last week, ICBC took in more than 5,000 calls to its Dial-A-Claim line, compared to an average day of about 2,800, said spokesperson Sam Corea.

"So we were practically double the number of calls that we get with people having crashes," said Corea.

Most of those calls were coming from the Lower Mainland, where more than half the cars in B.C. are located.

Not every call results in a claim, and many types of claims can be processed online, so the numbers provided are just a snapshot.

Snowy vehicle slip and slide

CBC News Vancouver at 6

4 years ago
Friday's snow dump turned a stretch of hilly streets in Vancouver into a vehicle slip and slide 0:41

'Non-driveable' claims leading to waits

While ICBC says it takes weather forecasts into account and plans staffing accordingly, the surge in severe crashes — where the vehicle isn't driveable — has led to some delays.

At one point, earlier in the winter, there was a week-long backlog at ICBC's central estimating facility in the Lower Mainland, where more severe crashes are sent for assessment, Corea said.

"We've had some wait times sometimes, we're working as fast as we can," said Corea.

There were also delays in transporting those non-driveable vehicles due to heavy snowfall, ICBC said.

"The body shops are busy and the towing companies are busy, so there's been a ripple effect right through the winter," said Corea.

In about 70 per cent of cases, the vehicle can still be driven, he said. Most online claims are processed in two days, which is ICBC's target, said the insurer.

"We just want people to have patience on the road and patience when you call us," said Corea.