Subrogation and How It Affects an ICBC Car Accident Claim

July 27, 2016

If you get into a car accident in British Columbia and are covered under multiple forms of insurance, you cannot expect to collect benefits more than once for the same loss from the available insurers. Because of “subrogation,” your insurance contract will contain provisions that set out the conditions under which the insurer will pay the claim and its rights with respect to reclaiming or subrogating those payments.

What is Subrogation?

Subrogation is a term defining a legal or contractual right reserved by most insurance carriers to pursue reimbursement from the insured or a third party for payments made. The purpose of subrogation is to ensure that costs are applied to the appropriate party and also so they are not paid twice to the insured. The most common instance of subrogation we see at Spraggs & Co. injury lawyers is with respect to medical coverage through workplace benefits.  Often, individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents will have extra para-medical coverage through workplace benefits.  Often these benefit policies contain provisions that require the claimant to repay benefits if they recover damages for his or her injury claim. So, for example, if your medical benefits cover $400 in pain medication prescribed by your physician and your settlement from ICBC includes damages for the cost of your prescriptions, you may be required to pay back all or a portion of the $400.  Whether and how much must be paid back varies in every situation – it depends on the insurer, the policy and other factors. The amounts to be re-paid can be significant, and consume a large portion of your settlement, if they are related to wage replacement benefits such as disability insurance.

How Subrogation Works In an ICBC Injury Claim

If you are injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, then, under the insurance contract, ICBC is considered the secondary insurer to other government insurance benefits and if you have any private insurance available. ICBC can require that you first seek medical care and income loss benefits from other insurers that may be available to you through your employer, private disability insurance through a bank or other institution, Employment Insurance or Worksafe BC (if relevant). The right of subrogation in a motor vehicle accident is outlined in s.84 of The Insurance (Vehicle) Act RSBC 1996 c.231.

How Subrogation Works Regarding Employment Benefits

As mentioned, ICBC will first require you to seek wage loss protection first from other means, such as your employer, private insurance if available and Employment Insurance. ICBC may refuse to pay the wage loss protection you have under your auto insurance policy unless you show that you attempted to recover wage loss benefits through other means first but were rejected. If you receive private wage loss benefits, then ICBC might refuse to pay additional wage loss benefits.

As discussed above, if a private insurer has contractually reserved to the right to subrogate, then you may have to repay those benefits to the insurer up to the limit of your recovery from ICBC. An experienced Spraggs & Co. car accident lawyer in Surrey or Burnaby may be able to negotiate with the insurer or a plan administrator to accept a lesser amount or he or she may need to defend you against any attempt to have you pay those benefits back.

The decision of an insurance company to subrogate will depend on a number of factors, including the anticipated costs and success of recovering money from the insured or third party and the availability of private or public insurer contribution.

How Can Spraggs & Co. Help With Subrogation?

It is important to speak to a car accident lawyer in Surrey or Burnaby after a motor vehicle accident to determine how to proceed with respect to where to first submit your claim.. An experienced injury lawyer will be able to advise on possible repayments and deductions that will arise in your claim.

Your lawyer can also advocate for you in the event there is a dispute among the insurers as to who is responsible to pay the claim for your motor vehicle accident injuries. If it is determined that your injuries were a result of your negligence in a motor vehicle accident, then ICBC has the right to subrogate for all or a percentage of benefits it has paid to you under the provisions of the policy. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you in advance and negotiate on your behalf should an insurer claim subrogation rights against you.

In addition to providing ongoing legal advice about your claim, a car accident lawyer in Burnaby or Surrey can clarify the limitation periods that impact you and help you to complete the required forms so you can obtain the benefits you are eligible for.  Contact us at Spraggs & Co. for the help you need at 1-866-939-3339.

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