- BC Games
Foul smell in ICBC write-off, lawyer says
A Surrey woman and her lawyer are wondering why ICBC is writing off a perfectly good vehicle just because someone spilled milk in it during an accident
Last June, Surrey's Michelle Chapman drove into an intersection and smashed into a black Dodge Dakota with her Chrysler Sebring sedan.
She got out and found the damage to both her vehicle and the truck was relatively minor, with virtually no visible marks on the truck and only a slight crack on her licence plate cover.
During the claims process, she was initially told there was about $60 damage to her car and $400 to the truck, in addition to a $900 cleaning bill to mop up the spilled milk.
About a month later, she was called and told the truck would be written off for almost $5,000 worth of damage.
ICBC felt that after a couple of days, the milk smell would be next to impossible to get out of the truck.
So it was determined the vehicle would be written off for $4,800.
"In our estimator's experience, the smell would not have been able to be removed," said ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman.
Farhan Bhimji, owner of Vancouver's Showroom Auto Spa, said an ozone treatment on the Dakota for about $225 may have been successful.
However, he acknowledges that even with the detailing, if the milk has been left there for a while, it can be touch and go as to whether the stench would ever be gone from the vehicle.
"You can't promise it, but you can do everything you can to get it," he said.
Grossman said it's not unusual for ICBC to make these kinds of decisions.
"We have all kinds of liquids and fluids and whatnot spilled in cars. That can be challenging to remove," Grossman said.
Paul Roxburgh, a lawyer representing Chapman on a pro-bono basis, said it was up to the truck driver to clean up the milk in a timely basis, so the stench could be eliminated.
Roxburgh says neither the truck owner nor ICBC tried the use the ozone method to clean it up.
For that reason, Roxburgh said Chapman's responsibility should be downgraded to the initial estimate for the clean-up and repairs, which is around $1,500.
"The damage is the damage," Roxburgh said, who points out ICBC decided in its wisdom it wasn't even going to try to get the smell out.
"They then wrote the vehicle off… we're being essentially penalized because they're unwilling or unable to make an effort to try and fix it for the estimated amount."
Grossman said ICBC could try to get the smell out, and may have to write the vehicle off anyway.
Instead, the Dakota went to auction.
"We sold it for salvage, and it could be for parts only, or the purchaser can try and clean it and get it out themselves," said Grossman who would only say the vehicle was sold for "substantially less" than what ICBC paid out for it.
Grossman pointed out the woman has had 12 at-fault accidents, a claim that's being disputed by her.
That's a claim Roxburgh describes as inaccurate and irrelevant.