Even if you qualify for ICBC benefits, you should always apply for any non-ICBC benefits that are available. ICBC benefits are secondary to any private or government benefits: you must exhaust those benefits before ICBC is required to pay. The most common such benefits are:
- Private insurance
- EI Sickness benefits
- CPP disability
If you or a family member have private insurance that covers medical expenses or loss of income, you should notify the insurer promptly, even if you do not intend to submit a claim. Most private insurance plans have a notice period – sometimes as little as 30 days. If you fail to notify them of the accident within that notice period, they may deny coverage for any future medical or wage loss expenses.
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
Many people are unaware that Federal Employment Insurance offers up to 15 weeks of employment insurance benefits if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. You need to submit a record of employment for each paid position you held in the 12 months prior to the accident, and a medical disability certificate drafted by a doctor. It is important to apply promptly, as you will lose benefits if you wait more than a few weeks, and even once you apply, it can take 4-6 weeks to process your claim.
If you are already receiving EI because you were laid off, you still must notify Service Canada that you are unable to work currently. You will be shifted to the sickness benefits until you recover. When you are able to work again, you can notify EI and return to regular EI benefits.
Canada Pension Plan disability benefits may be available if you have paid CPP premiums for the “minimum qualifying period”. You meet this threshold if you paid sufficient premiums for 4 of the last 6 calendar years, (or 3 of the last 6 if you have paid for 25 years). If you have been disabled within the last 6 years, then you must have paid CPP premiums for each month since you recovered from your prior disability. To qualify you must provide a doctor’s note specifying that you are disabled from working.
What about Worksafe/WCB Benefits?
If you were working at the time of the accident, you must elect whether to pursue an ICBC claim or a WCB claim. We generally recommend choosing the ICBC claim, but one downside is that you may not receive compensation for medical expenses or income loss until your claim is resolved.
If you are unable to earn income after the accident, you may also qualify for Fair Pharmacare benefits.