ICBC Fraud

did-not-did-too-twin-tee-shirts-10ICBC routinely accuses people of fraud.  They advertise heavily that fraud is rampant.  Some public statements by ICBC allege that up to 30% of ICBC claims “include some element of fraud or exaggeration“.

None of their own data backs this up.  ICBC’s Special Investigation Unit is required to investigate all cases of suspected fraud.  Any such file must be handed to SIU.  SIU is also mandated to investigate all injuries claims made by ICBC employees (whether  employees are assumed to be fraudsters I leave to another column).  A series of Freedom of Information requests by me establish that from 2000 to 2015 (2016 numbers are not yet available), SIU has investigated an average of 54 cases per year.  SIU’s budget over the same period averaged $8,207,000.  That’s about $152,000 per investigation.  In 2015, ICBC paid out $2.6 Billion in claims.  That makes the fraud department budget about 0.3% of the claims.  Three one-thousandths.   That sure seems contrary to the assertion of “rampant” fraud or “30% have an element of fraud or exaggeration”.  If it was so bad, you’d expect a bigger investigation budget.

A recent case shows how cavalier ICBC is when it accuses people of fraud: ICBC v. Mehat, 2017 BCSC 1476.  In this case, three ICBC lawyers accused Garmel Mehat and his wife Maninder of insurance fraud.  The lawyers were a partner (24 years experience) and 2 associates (each of 7 years experience) at a major Vancouver law firm.  The Mehat van left the road and crashed into a house, injuring a Ms. Puri.  The Mehats said Maninder was driving.  ICBC claimed Garmel was driving, and he was drunk.  ICBC sued the Mehats.  The case went to trial for four days in front of Justice Blok.  The Mehats had one lawyer on their side: Palbinder Shergill (who was appointed a Supreme Court Justice shortly after this trial).  ICBC argued that since Garmel was the “usual” driver, and that “only” men were seen leaving the van immediately (Garmel’s father was in the van also), therefore Garmel “must have” been driving.   Maninder, Garmel, and Garmel’s dad, and “must have” lied because Garmel was drunk.  It’s amusing that ICBC never asserted that Garmel’s Dad “must have” been the driver.  Why not?  If only men were in the van, it’s 50/50 that the old man was driving…

Turns out the witnesses who “never saw” a woman driver didn’t really see anything.  Ms. Puri was probably on the floor, stunned by the crash.  A neighbour didn’t arrive for about 10 minutes.  Turns out, Maninder likely went home (4 blocks away) briefly to take home the crying baby.  Then she came back and told the police she was driving.

ICBC ignored all the evidence in preference to their nasty suspicions.  Just like they did in Arsenovski.  For those who haven’t read my blog, ICBC had Mrs. Arsenovski charged with “making a false statement” — except she never made ANY statement.  They accused her of attempting to make a fraudulent claim — except she never made ANY claim.  They likely spent half a million dollars on legal fees to hound the poor lady — until a judge ordered them to pay the largest punitive damage award in the history of ICBC.  And Special costs.

In the end Justice Blok dismissed ICBC’s claim against the Mehats:

[75]        For all of the reasons just outlined I conclude that the plaintiff has failed to meet its burden, on a balance of probabilities, of showing Ms. Mehat was not the driver of the van when it collided with the Sharma house on June 10, 2008.  It follows that the plaintiff has failed to establish that the representations of the defendants were false.  

Four days of trial.  Three ICBC lawyers.  Must have cost many many thousands in ICBC legal fees.   Takes a pretty wide trough to feed three.   ICBC’s Financial Statements show that in 2000-2015, the law firm was paid $35,835,973.  A waste of court time.  No wonder ICBC is in financial difficulties.  It’s not the fraud by claimants.  It’s the fraud by ICBC.  It’s the stupidity of ICBC.

Thank goodness the new NDP Attorney General has committed to cleaning up the mess at ICBC.