ICBC faces lawsuit over ‘illegal’ scheme

A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against ICBC and the B.C. government alleging they engaged in an illegal scheme to divert hundreds of millions of dollars that resulted in losses to accident victims and driving up insurance rates for B.C. drivers.

The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court argues that provincial laws make the government, through the Medical Services Plan — and not ICBC — responsible for paying the costs of visits to doctors by victims of motor vehicle accidents.

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But ICBC has instead, for decades, reimbursed the government, through the MSP, for the services of medical practitioners payable as a result of ICBC claims, the lawsuit says.

The total amount of the remittances from 1988 to 2018 has been $899,724,536 with amounts prior to 1988 and since April 2018 only known to the defendants, it says.

“The effect for the government of receiving the remittances was to raid ICBC’s budget for its own benefit and, in doing so, increase ICBC’s operating costs,” says the writ.

There are two identified classes in the lawsuit, the “accident victim class” and the “ratepayer class”.

Brayden Methot, from Williams Lake, the representative plaintiff for the accident victim class, was left a quadriplegic after a road crash in 2014. Methot, 29, says he received the limit of $160,000 in accident benefits, but believes he would have received more benefits from ICBC had the corporation not unlawfully paid the remittances.

Scott Stanley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, wrote in an email: “The items he needed to buy with his accident benefits were not luxury items — these were items he needed to remain alive.”

Robert Rorison, the representative plaintiff for the ratepayer class, says he has bought insurance through ICBC since 1973, with the premiums increasing substantially during that time.

ICBC said it will review the lawsuit before determining next steps. As it is before the courts, ICBC said, it will not be making any further statements.

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