I still get asked this question from time to time by individuals who are involved in single-vehicle accidents, where no one is to blame but themselves.  Simply put, our system of compensation for injured victims from motor vehicle accidents is best described as a hybrid of tort and no-fault…. although the latter is in some situations better understood as own-fault. There are circumstances where the insurance benefits will be taken away for behaviour that constitutes a breach or disqualification of the insurance contract.

When we attend the insurance broker to purchase insurance or renew our license for the vehicle(s) we operate, attention is paid to, amongst other things, the Third Party liability coverage insurance limits that we purchase.  The minimum is $200,000, and the maximum available through ICBC is $5,000,000.  This Third-Party coverage is the amount of protection you have if you cause an accident and someone else is injured.  It will not be used to fund compensation to you if you are injured in an accident that you have caused.

The hybrid part of the insurance coverage, however, includes no-fault accident benefits provided under Part 7 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act Regulations. The Part 7 component of your insurance is a contract between you, as the insured, and ICBC, as the insurer. In a Tort claim, the basis of the claim is in negligence against a third party.  Negligence is a legal word to describe who is responsible for an accident and the resulting injuries.

Your contract with ICBC, so far as Part 7 benefits are concerned, includes benefits such as:

  • medical and rehabilitative treatment and services;
  • total disability (wage) benefits;
  • homemakers benefits; and
  • death benefits.

The difference between a Tort claim and a Part 7 claim can best be described as follows:  a Tort claim seeks compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of income, future care costs and out of pocket expenses.  The claim is made against another/third party alleged by you to be responsible for your loss.  The basis of the claim is the negligence of that other party or parties.

The Part 7 claim is based on your contract with ICBC and the claim is for very specific benefits listed above. A Part 7 accident benefits claim will not encompass the nature or the extent of claims available when someone else is at fault.

The Part 7 claim is similar to a disability plan you may have through your employment, or privately.  With Part 7 benefits, there are strict eligibility criteria that have to be considered.  The benefits may not be available to you if you live alone and do not have a valid B.C. driver’s license, if you are injured (struck) by an out of province vehicle, or if you are covered by WCB and working at the time of the accident.

Essentially, an ‘insured’ who may be eligible for benefits under Part 7 is:

  • the owner of a BC registered vehicle or a full-time member of such a vehicle owner’s household;
  • an occupant of a B.C. licensed vehicle, where the driver holds a valid B.C. license; and
  • a cyclist or pedestrian who collides with a properly insured B.C. vehicle.

*the legislation describes others who may be eligible and this list is not exhaustive.

Keep in mind that as with most contracts of insurance, there are circumstances where the benefits will be taken away for behaviour that constitutes a breach or disqualification.

Having said all this, it is best not to attempt to determine for yourself if and to what extent you are entitled to Part 7 benefits.  Seek the advice of legal counsel.  Time limits will apply to claims being made either in Tort or Part 7, so don’t delay once you are injured.  You or your representative should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure you receive the benefits of your available and payable claims.

The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.

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