A White Rock resident is sounding the alarm about how the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)’s policies are costing him and other homeowners in his condo building thousands of dollars.
Dec. 3, 2022 was a snowy night, Ken Harverson explained, and when one vehicle crashed into another near the Thrift Avenue building, it sent a car flying into the building, crashing right into someone’s home.
Harverson, who is strata treasurer and also vice-president, noted that he and other homeowners in the 55-plus, 30-unit condo took the drivers’ information and sent two quotes for repairs to ICBC, as requested.
On Jan. 23, 2023, he said he received a response and a release form from ICBC to sign off on.
“Basically what they had done, was to choose the most economical contract (for repairs to the building), but they had deducted 30 per cent off the actual damage to be repaired. I went ‘Hold it, let’s stop the clock,’” Harverson said.
ICBC told him that the building’s worth in 1988 was used, he said; therefore, the insurance giant could deduct 30 per cent of the repair bill and charge the homeowners in the building that amount.
“The building was there. The car hit it. We have no-fault insurance – it’s now our-fault insurance?” he queried.
“What they’re doing is, they’re basically saying ‘Oh, you can just go to your insurance company and they can pay the difference,” Harverson said. He noted, however, the damages his building’s residents are on the hook to pay were estimated at just over $8,000 with the Jan. 23 estimate’s 30 per cent depreciation deduction – but their building’s insurance deductible is $15,000.
He also noted that in a multi-unit building, homeowners usually don’t want to have any claims against their insurance, as it will cause rates to go up when it’s time to renew.
When he told ICBC the building had just been repainted at a cost of $44,000, ICBC changed the amount of repairs deducted to 20 per cent of the bill, instead of the 30 per cent they originally charged, so the building’s homeowners are still on the hook for more than $5,000, Harverson said.
In a follow-up phone call with Peace Arch News, ICBC media relations advisor Lindsay Wilkins noted the repairs are estimated at $31,950 plus GST, but did not provide the GST amount.
Harverson said with GST, the amount came to $33,547, and to his understanding, the amount he and the building’s homeowners must pay went from $8,130 down to $5,162 with the revised 20 per cent (instead of 30 per cent) depreciation deducted.
Harverson said that, as a 55-plus building, many homeowners are on a fixed income and are already dealing with stratospheric inflation, sky-high gas prices and rising taxes, among many other costs.
“ICBC is a monopoly. They make the rules,” Harverson said.
“I’m just so angry because morally, it’s wrong. Why are you guys (ICBC) not fixing it and paying the amount that needs to be paid to fix it?”
In an emailed statement, ICBC said that they had provided a revised settlement offer to the building’s strata corporation on Feb. 16, 2023, and are waiting a response.
“The settlement offer was based on the amount of the lesser of two quotes provided by the strata for the cost of repairs to the building minus 20 per cent depreciation,” the email said.
The statement noted that ICBC bases property damage settlements on the actual cash value, which includes depreciation (loss in value to property from all causes including wear and tear), and that customers with a commercial, strata or homeowner’s insurance policy “can submit a claim to these insurers instead of ICBC if preferred. These insurers typically cover property damage on a replacement costs basis without adding deprecation.”
The email said the insurance corporation is legally responsible, on behalf of the B.C.-insured motorist who caused the damage, “for restoring the property to the condition it was prior to the loss (not betterment of the property).”
Harverson said he pointed out to ICBC that the building has appreciated, not depreciated, with more than one unit being valued from $800,000 to more than $1 million; far more than they were worth in the late 1980s.
“Really at the end of the day it’s nickel-and-diming… it just bothers me that they can get away with this stuff. It’s another way of not paying what they should be paying.”
Harverson wants others to know how ICBC’s insurance policies will affect them, should something similar occur.
“How many people know? If it’s your building, your house, your store, whatever – if it gets smashed into (by a vehicle), don’t think that ICBC is going to come and say ‘OK, we’ll get it repaired, don’t worry about it.’ They’re going to be doing the same thing they’re doing here.”
He noted that previously, before no-fault insurance, they would be able to sue the driver (and the driver’s insurance) of the vehicle at fault.
Wilkins maintained no-fault insurance hasn’t really changed the process much, and said B.C. owners of damaged property do have the option to pursue damages via the legal system.
Harversonn said he and the other homeowners just want the repairs completed in a timely fashion – and if they don’t sign off on the settlement and release, the affected unit’s owner will have to wait even longer – up to a year, according to lawyers he consulted – before seeing the inside of a courtroom.
“If you want the money, you play by their game,” he said, noting some people might not understand signing the settlement means they won’t be able to sue.
He said no one can believe him when he tells them ICBC is using depreciation as an excuse to force repair costs on homeowners in his building after it was struck by a car.
“Every single person I talk to… they ask, ‘They did what? Are you kidding? Every person in the province will be affected by this,” he said.
“I don’t like bullies – I really don’t.”