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ICBC injury claim process frustrates Richmond family

Language barriers, miscommunication and confusing processes sent father in despair after being hit by a car
A seemingly straightforward ICBC claim for a car accident victim has left a Richmond family "exhausted."

A heartwarming family reunion turned into a stressful and distressing experience when a man from China, who travelled to Canada to visit his daughter, was hit by a car.

Richmondite Ziying Guo said her father, who entered the country on a visitor visa, was riding a bike to get groceries when he was hit by a car in October. When Guo reported the accident to ICBC, the adjustor promised ICBC would cover all medical and hospital bills since the driver was “fully responsible.”

“We were glad to hear that (ICBC would cover the expenses),” she said, adding that while she thought the Canadian process was “quite good” at first, she later found out that was not the case.

The confusion began after the Guos filed all their documents, including two hospital bills totalling $2,400. Guo told the Richmond News the process was “chaotic.”

“The execution was chaotic, their internal communication was messy as well, and their protocol wasn’t consistent either,” she said, listing problems such as a lack of communication from ICBC and repeated requests that Guo prove she could represent her father despite having submitted a written letter of authorization.

Accusations from ICBC representative felt 'disrespectful'

When Guo finally managed to get through to a representative who was willing to discuss her father’s file with her, she was told that she would have to show written proof her father was not covered by MSP or other forms of insurance before ICBC could proceed with the claim.

“Which is different from the answers I got (before),” she said. “It’s been almost a month (since I submitted the claim). If they knew there is another process… they should notify me.”

Guo was then sent down a rabbit hole to try to obtain proof, which involved multiple time-consuming back-and-forth exchanges with ICBC and MSP.

During the process, Guo said she felt "disrespected" or even “discriminated” against by an ICBC representative, who accused her father of breaking the law by entering the country without travel insurance and even questioned why they had received two hospital bills (the second was for additional tests).

Feeling that language might be an issue, Guo even enlisted the help of an interpreter. But the call turned hostile anyway and the representative refused to provide her name and employee number after Guo requested the information to make a complaint.

Just when Guo thought her father would have to go through the lengthy process of applying for MSP just to get rejected, which is the only way to get written proof according to an MSP representative, the story took a “comical” and “ironic twist.”

After her heated conversation with the ICBC representative, she received a letter from ICBC letting her know they were processing her father’s claim and would be receiving the first cheque to cover her father’s hospital expenses soon.

The punchline? The letter was sent before she spoke to the ICBC representative on the phone, who said ICBC would not process the claim if they couldn’t provide written proof from MSP.

And sure enough, the cheque arrived safe and sound in her mailbox soon after that.

The saga also came with another twist: after Guo received the letter notifying her of the incoming cheque, ICBC proceeded to send her an email refusing to answer her inquiries sent earlier in the month.

'Chaotic' process left family 'exhausted'

The chaotic process left Guo’s father in “despair,” she said. Not only was he overwhelmed by the language barrier as he couldn’t speak English, but he also became afraid to seek further treatment and therapy for his injuries for fear of being stuck with more medical bills.

The family also had no other means to seek recourse, as ICBC insures all B.C. vehicles, and the whole process has left them feeling exhausted.

But the story has a happy ending — not only has Guo received the first cheque for her father’s medical bills, but ICBC has also assigned a Mandarin-speaking representative to assist her. ICBC has also promised to pay for her father’s medical and rehabilitation expenses.

According to ICBC spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins, ICBC coverage on B.C.-insured vehicles covers expenses such as “medical, rehabilitation and income replacement” for visitors who get hit as a pedestrian or a cyclist. Such benefits under the Enhanced Care system are subject to deductions if the victim, regardless of whether they’re from B.C. or not, is covered by other forms of insurance.

Injury claims are “typically” handled by a team to ensure “customers can speak with a specialist promptly after a crash through a dedicated phone line,” said Wilkins, and customers who feel they have been treated unfairly can reach out to ICBC’s fairness officer.

“(The Mandarin-speaking representative) called me yesterday and has already solved all the problems,” said Guo, adding that the process seems “easier” now.

She said the new representative trusted her and did not ask for written proof that her father was not covered elsewhere, but she still feels frustrated about how she was treated before.

“I felt I was not respected by (the previous ICBC representatives) and I was tricked by them, wasting a whole month of going nowhere,” said Guo.