• Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

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ICBC back-pedals on billing cyclists for damage to other vehicles

In March, Ben Bolliger got a bill from ICBC for $3,752.01, the cost to fix the windshield and hood of a car after a crash in Vancouver

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ICBC will no longer ask pedestrians, cyclists or skateboarders to pay for an accident they were involved in if they have suffered a catastrophic injury, died or if there is not enough information to assign blame for the accident.

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In addition, potential claims against a moderately-injured passive road user deemed partly or completely responsible for an accident will be reviewed by a committee of experts before a decision is made to seek costs.

The turnaround by the Crown corporation came after ICBC billed a seriously injured Vancouver cyclist for damaging the car that struck him, leading to public outrage.

“Government and ICBC listened to the concerns raised from cycling advocates and Mr. (Ben) Bolliger about the decision to bill him for vehicle damage after he was involved in a collision,” Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety said in a statement.

“The previous approach was not reflective of the changes we’ve made to auto insurance in British Columbia and that needed to be fixed.”

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On Wednesday, Bolliger told Postmedia News that was particularly surprised by ICBC’s announcement because it stated that new police information had determined the driver of the car that went through a red light and hit him was 100 per cent responsible.

When Bolliger was given a $3,752 ICBC bill on March 18, 2022, to pay for repairs to the car’s hood and windshield, it was done on the basis that he was partly responsible for the crash.

He said he should not have been billed in the first place if he was not at all responsible.

ICBC spokesman Brent Shearer said that in Bolliger’s case, the first police report that ICBC received stated there could have been shared blame.

“After reaching out to police to get more information, they provided us with a final report and based on that report we changed the liability decision to wholly the driver of the vehicle,” Shearer said.

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He added that since May 2021, ICBC had sent 66 letters to passive road users (pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, scooter users) asking that they pay costs for an accident they were involved in and were partly responsible for.

Of those cases, four had been paid while the rest were outstanding.

Shearer said that all those cases were being reviewed, and that ICBC would ultimately be responsible for those costs.

Bolliger said the policy change was a “really good first step” but that more needed to be done to allow passive road users to seek compensation for injuries.

“As a vulnerable road user who was hit by a car, you are at such a disadvantage right from the get go,” he said.

“Under the new no-fault and enhanced care system, you no longer have the right to sue. So the only recourse I would have had to dispute liability would be to go to a civil resolution tribunal.

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“The announcement doesn’t reference any changes to offering compensation to a pedestrian or cyclist that is hit by a car. We still don’t get that.”

Lawyer Joel Zanatta, who was acting for Bolliger, said that on Wednesday he had heard from eight other injured cyclists who had been billed by ICBC, including one who had paid the insurer $13,000, yet was unable to recall the accident due to a concussion.

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