ICBC accused him of lying about how his Tesla got damaged. He took them to court.
ICBC has been ordered to pay over $2,500 for repairs to a man's Tesla after the province's Civil Resolution Tribunal dismissed the insurer's claim that the driver lied about what caused the damage.
The tribunal's reasons for finding in the owner's favour were posted online Tuesday.
Andre Rink challenged the denial of his claim stemming from what he said was a hit-and-run in a parkade in 2021. The insurer, for its part, said that the damage was caused by a single-vehicle collision.
Tribunal member Eric Regher noted that Rink would have been covered by his policy in either event, but that the insurer argued he had forfeited his coverage because he "made a willfully false statement."
On Nov. 14, 2021, the decision says, Rink noticed damage to the back of his car, above the wheel on the left side, when he got home from the gym.
"He made an ICBC claim the same day, claiming that another vehicle must have caused the damage while he was parked at the gym. He denies causing the damage himself," Regehr wrote.
Roughly three months later, Rink received a letter informing him that his claim had been denied.
In support of its claim that Rink's report of a hit-and-run was untrue, ICBC did not submit evidence to prove that it was caused in some other way. Rather, the tribunal was asked to draw two "adverse inferences" based on Rink's behaviour after the collision.
First, ICBC argued that Rink's decision to get the car repaired while the CRT process was underway should be understood as an attempt to destroy evidence.
On May 5, 2022 – roughly six months after the initial claim was submitted – an ICBC adjuster told Rink that the insurer wanted to send an expert to examine the Tesla and prepare a report to submit to tribunal. Six days later, Rink called ICBC back and said he wanted to get the car repaired. Roughly three weeks after that, he proceeded to do so, the tribunal decision says, noting that Rink said he wanted the car to look "pristine" for his daughter's impending graduation.
In order to draw an adverse inference, the tribunal would have had to find "evidence that there was an element of fraud or an attempt to suppress the truth," Regher explained, adding that he was not persuaded by ICBC's argument.
"I find that the evidence here does not show that Mr. Rink repaired the Tesla to deceive the CRT or ICBC. I rely primarily on the fact that Mr. Rink did not deny ICBC access to the Tesla before it was repaired. Rather, he declined to postpone previously scheduled repairs," the decision says.
Second, ICBC asked the tribunal to draw an adverse inference because Rink did not take the car to a service centre where all of its electronic data could be accessed.
That decision, ICBC argued, should be understood as a failure to "take all available steps to obtain 'possible relevant evidence,'” Regher noted.
The tribunal was unmoved by this argument.
"To the extent that ICBC argues that all Tesla owners must attend service centers to check for collision data, I disagree. I find that there must be evidence that doing so would likely provide relevant evidence. Here, ICBC’s arguments about what may have been available are speculative," Regher wrote.
"There is no evidence about what Tesla’s sensors detect and record. In other words, there is no evidence that a relatively minor scrape would result in retrievable collision data."
Because ICBC based its claim that Rink had made a false report solely on these arguments, the tribunal ruled that Rink should be reimbursed for the repairs and for his rental car.
ICBC was ordered to pay $2,584.19, as well as $135 in tribunal fees and $32.84 in pre-judgment interest.
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