ICBC facing class action over COVID lockdown period premiums

Rebates sought for insured drivers who paid for out-of-province coverage

ICBC facing class action over COVID lockdown period premiums

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) faces a class action lawsuit initiated by a customer seeking rebates of collected premiums for out-of-province coverage during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

 The lawsuit was filed this week in the BC Supreme Court on behalf of the 2.5 million drivers insured by ICBC, the Vancouver Sun reported. The suit alleged that the Crown corporation “unjustly enriched” itself by collecting third-party liability premiums for coverage rendered irrelevant due to travel restrictions. 

Representative plaintiff Erik Watson-Hurthig asked that ICBC refund the $40 he paid for third-party liability premiums in two months, beginning on the implementation of no-fault insurance on May 1, 2021, until restrictions on non-essential travel were lifted on July 1, 2021. 

The suit, which still has to be certified as a class action to proceed, went on to claim that Watson-Hurthig did not have to pay the premiums since there was “no reason to maintain third-party coverage during the period in which he could not leave the territorial boundaries of British Columbia.”

“ICBC charged the plaintiff premiums for third-party liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage when it was impossible for the plaintiff to be liable for third-party damages under BC’s no-fault regime,” the suit said further. 

 ICBC’s introduction of a no-fault insurance system in 2021 has meant that BC drivers no longer have to carry third-party liability insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits by other BC drivers. 

However, the coverage has remained necessary for travel in certain US states and other parts of Canada, where drivers can still be sued following an accident.

 ICBC has yet to file a response to the lawsuit. Still, a statement emailed to the Vancouver Sun noted that it is “simply untrue” to claim that BC drivers faced no liability risks during the two months indicated in the suit. 

The insurer said there were times when BC drivers had been allowed to leave the province in their vehicles during the lockdowns, adding that it had already issued two rebates for a total amount of $950 million in response to the reduction of risks seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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