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Don’t count on insurer to ‘do right thing’

Don't count on insurer to 'do right thing'You’ve never caused a crash, nor been ticketed for speeding.

You’re a “road star”. You’ve paid insurance on a vehicle for over 15 years.

Not only that, but you go all out when you buy insurance. You go way beyond the basic policy. Your liability insurance is $3 million. You have replacement cost insurance on your vehicle along with all the bells and whistles.

If ICBC sells it, you’ve got it.

Let’s say you are stopped at a red light and some idiot smokes into the back of your vehicle. The next morning you wake up hardly able to move.

You see your doctor who tells you to stay away from work for at least a month. You are referred to physiotherapy and chiropractic care that will cost you $200 per week. A month without pay? $800 per month of treatment?

Thank goodness you are so well insured!

Hold onto your sense of security. All that expensive insurance won’t do you a hint of good.

Pretty much anyone who has been injured in a crash in British Columbia, at fault or not at fault, is entitled to a minimal level of insurance benefits, regardless of whether or not that person has spent any money on insurance.

Those benefits are often called “Part 7” benefits because the entitlement comes from Part 7 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act. The income loss portion maxes out at $300 per week. Reimbursement for the cost of treatment does not include the “user fee,” which can be approximately 50 per cent of the cost of a treatment.

It doesn’t matter how much auto insurance you’ve paid for, that’s all you are entitled to based on your own insurance.

Oh, and the insurance company has its arbitrary little rules, like they stop providing any funding for massage therapy after eight weeks.

What about the difference between your actual losses and the minimal ones that the insurance company is required to pay you up front? The legal responsibility to compensate you for those losses lies with the offending driver. That driver’s liability insurance transfers the responsibility to the insurance company.

The thing is, the responsibility to actually pay you any actual dollars is not triggered until you settle your claim, which might be two to three years from now. What do you do in the meantime?

In my view, you shouldn’t have to scramble.

The decent thing for the insurance company to do would be to pay your full income loss and treatment expenses as you incur them. It is only in the rarest of occasions that they do the decent thing, though.

How do you protect yourself? How do you afford your medically recommended treatments while making your mortgage payments and putting food on the table?

Talk to an insurance agent. Purchase a good disability insurance policy that will pay your income losses during those two to three years until a settlement is reached.

Obtain a good extended medical plan that will cover your medical expenses.

Sorry, you cannot rely on the decency of the auto insurance company.

Published July 25, 2010 in the Kelowna Capital News