Driver forced to fork over $378 to dispute bogus ICBC claim
Published Friday, June 23, 2017 12:17PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 26, 2017 11:18AM PDT
When a pickup truck reversed into Wieslaw Jagielski's SUV in Surrey, the last thing he expected was to be hit a second time by a bogus insurance claim.
But that's exactly what happened. The driver who backed up into Jagielski on King George Boulevard blamed him for the May 11 fender-bender, and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia said the onus was on him to prove his innocence.
"I was treated like I was guilty already," Jagielski said. "I didn't expect that."
The claim turned what should have been a small headache – only Jagielski's licence plate and its frame were damaged – into a nightmare that took several weeks and hundreds of dollars to resolve.
ICBC sent him two notices in the mail asking for his side of the story, and informing him that, as the driver of the rear vehicle, it was his responsibility to demonstrate he hadn't driven into the pickup.
Fortunately for Jagielski, there was traffic camera footage that captured exactly what happened, but obtaining it from the City of Surrey came with a $378 bill. Rather than wrongly accept blame, he ponied up the cost.
"I was so happy because I had proof," he said.
ICBC wouldn’t comment on Jagielski’s case, citing privacy reasons, but its manager of special investigations, Chris Fairbridge, said insurance fraud is increasingly a problem in the province, and his team is cracking down.
The number of fraud investigations across B.C. is expected to double this year from 5,000 to 10,000, Fairbridge said, and the consequences for people who get caught can be severe.
"We've had people go to jail," Fairbridge said. "We see everything from people burning their vehicles to staging collisions."
The Crown corporation has promised to pay Jagielski back for his trouble, but the driver is still frustrated that it took more than a month to clear his name. He intends to buy a dashboard camera to prevent being victimized again in the future.
"There's too many people not telling the truth," he said.
As for why ICBC didn’t chase down the traffic camera footage themselves, spokesperson Lindsay Olsen told CTV News in a statement that ICBC “will pursue CCTV video where there is objective evidence that a crash is not straightforward.”
When asked to clarify what that meant, Olsen wrote, “That would mean some other evidence that’s objective to suggest the loss did not happen as described.”
There are roughly 250,000 crashes in British Columbia every year. An estimated 55,000 are rear-end collisions.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's David Molko