ICBC changes policy after outcry over repair bill sent to injured cyclist
ICBC is backpedalling on a policy that saw cyclists, pedestrians and other active transportation users billed for vehicle damage in collisions where they were partially responsible.
The changes come after Vancouver cyclist Ben Bolliger went public with his story of receiving a $3,700 bill for damage to a car’s hood and windshield after he was struck at an intersection.
The crash last summer sent Bolliger to the hospital, snapped the front end off his bike, and destroyed his helmet and phone. He says he’s now coming to terms with the fact that he’ll never regain full range of motion with his right hand.
In the announcement made Wednesday, the insurer said it will no longer send repair bills to cyclists or pedestrians who suffer catastrophic injury, are deemed by ICBC to be at 50/50 liability because there’s not enough evidence to determine what happened, or when there has been a fatality.
Where a cyclist or pedestrian has suffered a non-severe injury, ICBC said the case will be carefully considered by a committee of experts.
“Our new care-based model is just one year old and we will keep looking for ways to improve on how we deliver Enhanced Care to British Columbians,” said Nicolas Jimenez, CEO of ICBC, in a written statement.
The corporation also said it was recently provided with a final police report on Bolliger’s crash, resulting in a change to ICBC’s liability decision. It now holds the driver 100 per cent responsible for the crash.
“Mr. Bolliger is therefore not responsible for any damages or costs and will be fully compensated for damages to his bicycle and any other items,” the statement said.
Bolliger said the announcement was a “huge weight” off his shoulders.
“It feels good,” he said. “When I got that letter back in March, it was just so ridiculous that this is somehow in the realm of how ICBC was operating at that point.”
Bolliger says it’s a surreal feeling to be at the centre of the story, and having his case lead to a policy change at ICBC.
“Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of really good work that has been done by a lot of other people. It just so happens that I was hit by a car and I tweeted about it when I got a ridiculous bill from ICBC,” he said, naming the B.C. Cycling Coalition and HUB.
Bolliger says he still has problems with how ICBC dealt with his case and others like it.
He says he would like to see injured people get quicker and easier access to compensation for missed work, saying it wasn’t right that he had to first exhaust employer-paid sick leave and apply for medical employment insurance before ICBC would pay.
“It was a really challenging experience,” he said. “The longer that I’m dealing with the ICBC process and dealing with issues related to my claim, that’s time that I’m not spending really focusing on my own recovery and getting better.”