Editorial: Designated drivers deserve better protection

Lawsuit that exposed lapse in insurance policy points out need for immediate corrective action

A designated driver is seriously injured when her drunk passenger grabs the steering wheel, causing her to lose control and crash.

Compensation for her injuries and losses is assessed at close to $800,000. ICBC denies the claim and a decision released by the court on Feb. 3 affirms ICBC’s denial.

The injustice is compelling, and it made headlines. The headlines failed to identify the true source of the problem that denied this lady fair compensated — a failure in legislative drafting.

ICBC liability insurance doesn’t come from a traditional insurance policy. It is a creature of legislation.

When we buy liability insurance from ICBC, we are not purchasing a policy drafted by the insurance company, we are purchasing a set of protections drafted by our provincial government.

Had the exact same words been contained within an insurance policy, the result might well have been different because the court follows different rules when interpreting insurance policies than they follow when interpreting legislation.

Our “legislated” insurance policy contains a separate provision specifically allowing innocent victims, not in a vehicle, to recover against a passenger of the vehicle who causes a crash. Had it been a pedestrian who had been injured, he or she would have received compensation from ICBC.

By creating this specific protection for non-occupants, those who drafted the legislation excluded occupants from coverage. Had they left that provision out, both occupants and  non-occupants would be covered if a passenger causes a crash.

The sooner the legislation is amended, the sooner designative drivers can feel protected by the ability to claim fair compensation if injured as a result of their drunk passenger causing the vehicle to crash.

 

– Black Press