The technical term for the ICBC insurance policy that applies in a tort claim is “third-party coverage”. It is insurance that BC drivers and vehicle owners have for damages caused to other people (i.e. third parties) in an accident.
Basic Coverage: $200,000
Every vehicle insured in BC, as well as every driver with a BC licence, has at least basic third-party coverage. ICBC’s basic third-party coverage is limited to $200,000 for most vehicles. However, the basic coverage is increased for buses, taxis, limousines, commercial vehicles over 5,000kg and trucks that have coverage for travel outside BC. However, ICBC provides extended coverage up to $5,000,000.
ICBC’s coverage limits apply to all claims arising out of the same ‘occurrence’. An occurrence is defined as “a single happening or a series of happenings arising from a single event”. This definition does not appear to have been interpreted by our courts. However, the broadest interpretation seems to be that ICBC’s limit applies to all claims that can be linked to a single ‘event’. Therefore, if there are multiple distinct events, the claims linked to one event are not limited by those linked to another event.
Where there are multiple vehicles that contributed to the accident, there may be claims against multiple insurance policies. ICBC’s coverage applies separately to each ‘insured’. However, where the driver and owner of a vehicle each have their own ICBC insurance, all claims must be against the owner’s policy.
Both ICBC and private insurers may provide coverage in excess of $200,000. In serious accidents it is always important to determine who has excess coverage and the extent of that coverage.
Third-Party Coverage not Affected by Breach
If the insured party was in breach at the time of the accident, ICBC (and any private excess insurers) must still provide third-party coverage as purchased by the insured.
Claims Exceeding Policy Limits
Where claims exceed policy limits, the amount available will be divided pro rata between the claimants. So if there are two claims, one for $700,000 and another for $300,000, but the policy limits are $200,000, the first claimant will receive $140,000 from ICBC and the second will receive $60,000.