ICBC spends $800,000 in damage claims for Ferrari that crashed into pole

The driver argues ICBC breached an implied duty to process his claim

British Columbia’s public auto insurer says it has spent $789,375 in damage claims for a Ferrari that crashed into a pole.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is embroiled in a court battle over the claims and repairs, which it says could cost more than $982,000 in total.

Related: Reactions to ICBC’s “financial dumpster fire”

According to documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the plaintiff accidentally drove the 1990 Ferrari F40 into a utility pole on Sept. 9, 2012, leaving it badly damaged.

The repairs have yet to be completed according to a judgment in the case, though ICBC said it’s done its part.

The driver argued in the documents that ICBC breached an implied duty to process his claim and carry out the repairs in good faith and a timely manner.

“He alleges further that ICBC acted in bad faith in refusing, at least for a time, to approve and arrange the needed repair work and that delay has caused him various kinds of harm,” a judgment in the case reads.

Following an investigation, ICBC eventually admitted coverage and agreed to cover most of the cost of repairs. But it said it already paid enough toward the claim, since its payments exceed the cash value of the car — which an arbitrator pinned at $696,061 in 2014.

The case is ongoing.

Kris Sims, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the case is a perfect example of why the province should do away with the Crown corporation and leave auto insurance to private companies.

“We end up with this swamp of ineptitude and delays. This perfectly highlights it — here we’ve got someone who has $900,000 worth of repairs needed and a government monopoly not equipped to do it,” Sims said.

She said private insurers are better equipped to insure cars because competition gives them incentive to expediate both claim and court processes, with legal teams, estimators, repair specialists on hand.

Taxpayers should be responsible for neither the damage claims nor the court costs, Sims said.

“We’re unfortunately all in this together, whether we like it or not,” she said.

Last week, the province introduced an online survey on major shifts being considered to modernize ICBC.

The provincial budget forecast a $1.3-billion deficit at the Crown corporation this year and Attorney General David Eby described the situation as a “dumpster fire” he said he inherited from the former Liberal government.

An Ernst and Young report commissioned by the Liberals last year suggested charging higher rates for luxury vehicles, among a suite of options for reducing losses at ICBC.

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