Comment: Better benefits in new ICBC system for people hurt in car crashes

A commentary by the chief executive officer of the Physiotherapy Association of B.C.

Re: “ ‘No fault’ insurance in B.C. will hurt us all,” comment by Claudia Walker, Feb. 23.

As CEO of the Physiotherapy Association of B.C., I have a very different perspective of ICBCs Enhanced Care coverage than occupational therapist Claudia Walker. This new insurance system (which is modelled after successful systems in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) will provide people in B.C. with the medical and rehabilitative treatment they need, for as long as they need it, so they can get back to their daily lives to the greatest extent possible.

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The Physiotherapy Association of B.C. has been working with ICBC, along with various other health-care providers such as the Occupational Therapists of B.C., to refine and improve the current insurance system. We have all seen too many car crash victims spend years trying to get court settlements for their injuries, Funds will now be better spent on physiotherapy and other health care treatments to assist victims.

ICBCs Enhanced Care coverage will provide 24 times the amount of care and benefits than what is currently provided to car-crash victims up to a maximum of at least $7.5 million for as long as it is needed.

It is critical to note that the injured person’s chosen medical professional (physician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, etc.) will direct their care, not ICBC’s adjusters.

British Columbians injured in a crash will also be able to work with their health-care provider to decide the type of care they pursue for their injuries.

If an injured person disagrees with an ICBC decision on what care benefits they are eligible for, there is a timely and efficient dispute process through multiple channels, including the independent Civil Resolution Tribunal.

A lawyer is not required for this process, but there is nothing stopping an injured person from getting a lawyer to assist in this process if they want one.

If people find that the new system is not working for them, they can raise their concerns to a newly announced Fairness Office, which will be appointed by government and independent of ICBCs claim’s department or to the independent Office of the Ombudsperson.

Another positive step forward is the B.C. government’s plan to introduce legislation to require ICBC to advise and assist every British Columbian with their claim and to endeavour to ensure that every person is informed about and receives all of the benefits to which they are entitled.

Having this requirement set out in law should give injured people confidence that ICBC will be held accountable to them. This will also assist the injured person while navigating the system.

I believe ICBC’s new Enhanced Care coverage will give British Columbians immediate access to a broad range of medical and recovery benefits so physiotherapists and other health-care professionals can do their jobs, and work with their patients.

I will be at the table with other health-care and disability-advocacy organizations throughout the consultation process to help ensure that these changes work for people.

I would like to encourage all health care providers, such as occupational therapists, massage therapists, psychologists, etc. to contact their respective professional association to provide input on the proposed changes, as the associations might already be in discussions with ICBC about these changes, or can provide it on your behalf.

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