ICBC adjusters are employees of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. When people call ICBC to report they have been in a collision, their first contact with an ICBC employee will usually be a pleasant one.
Make no mistake. It is a ruse. ICBC employees are not your friends. They are the employees of the company that will ultimately have to pay you a settlement if you are injured.
If you are injured, eventually an ICBC insurance adjuster will be appointed to deal with your case. A lot of the time, the initial insurance adjuster you first deal with is likely personable and friendly. They might even appear to be on your side.
Don't be fooled by this.
The insurance adjuster is not your friend. The ICBC adjuster is an employee of ICBC and, as such, they have a job to do. That job includes not spending more of ICBC's money than necessary.
This does not mean that ICBC adjusters are bad people. Like all of us, they are really just doing their job. It just means that the adjuster's job includes not putting your best interest before that of the company they work for.
ICBC denies all of this of course. If you take a quick glance at their website, it blatantly tells people to deal directly with them. It encourages injured people to stay away from lawyers. Why do they do that? Well, because when lawyers get involved, ICBC often has to pay more money than they would have than if they were dealing with an unrepresented injured person.
Insurance companies make their profit by collecting as much money in premiums as possible and paying out as little as possible in benefits to injured parties.
1. For example, ICBC adjusters will take a statement from you. ICBC can then use this statement against you in court.
2. The insurance adjuster will often obtain your pre-accident private medical history, whether or not the nature of the case requires disclosure. Yes, this is an invasion of your privacy.
3. ICBC adjusters may appoint a medical specialist of his or her choice to assess you. This choice of specialist may not be in your best interests. With a lawyer, a fairer choice will be made.
4. When you are injured, you are entitled to rehabilitative care, like chiropractic care or massage therapy. The insurance adjuster may not offer you all of the treatments to which you are entitled. Getting better is your priority, a lawyer will help this happen.
Like we said, often, the first insurance adjuster that you meet, will be a front line “nice” person. This person seems so nice and reasonable that many people think they will have no need to see a lawyer. Like we said, keeping injured people from seeing lawyers is what adjustors want to do. It is their job.
Later, after the insurance company has organized the medical evidence that may keep the size of your claim down, a different adjuster will likely be assigned to your case. This adjuster will now play hardball.
If you wait until ICBC has built their case against you before, you see a lawyer, evidence hurtful to your claim may have already been gathered against you.
A lot of the time, clients who come to lawyers do so because the insurance company is refusing to pay for the treatment that the client’s doctors recommended, or because an unfair settlement offer is made.
In our experience, most clients have more money in their pocket even after payment of the lawyer’s fees than they would have had if they had settled on their own.
A lawyer’s contingency fee is the same whether you retain the lawyer early or late. Why not have the benefit of a lawyer right from the beginning?
This article is written by Val Hemminger, Lawyer