A bill worth nearly a million dollars has some B.C. residents calling for higher insurance premiums for owners of luxury cars.
When the driver of a 1990 Ferrari F40 lost control and hit a Vancouver utility pole in September 2012, it was clear that the car repairs would be pricey.
"Hitting a lamppost dead-on and destroying the car is quite a feat. To walk away means he's very lucky," said Bruce Cran of the Consumers' Association of Canada.
But it was the province's auto insurer whose luck had run out.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia offered the owner – Vancouver neurosurgeon Navraj Heran – $503,000 in 2014.
He went to arbitration about the supercar's worth, and the actual cash value was determined to be $696,000. So ICBC spent about $790,000 on fixing the car in Toronto, and then said it would spend no more.
Although the repairs are not yet complete, the Crown corporation said its payments have exceeded the cash value of the vehicle.
That’s when Heran sued, saying ICBC should pay the full cost of the repair, estimated at about $980,000. His claim says that ICBC breached an implied duty to process his claim and complete the repairs in a timely manner.
He also alleges ICBC acted in bad faith for refusing for a time to approve and arrange the necessary repair work.
On top of that, Heran's lawyers claimed in court documents that dealing with the crash and haggling over prices was preventing him from billing and that he suffered "embarrassment, an affront to his sense of dignity, and harm to his reputation among other Ferrari owners."
The judge in the case, Justice Milman, found that claim "frivolous." Heran did not comment for this news story.
Pricey cars are much more expensive to fix. It's a drag on ICBC's bottom line, and one reason why the agency faces a $1.3 billion loss this fiscal year.
Cran said every driver, no matter how expensive their vehicle, should be able to be insured under ICBC. However, he said the public insurer must charge premiums that make it worthwhile.
ICBC doubled premiums for luxury vehicles in early 2017. But a CTV investigation found that a $700,000 Ferrari would pay only four times the premium of a $16,000 Honda Civic, even though the car is worth some 40 times more.
"There should be some relationship between the premium paid for these vehicles and the value of them," Cran said.
Kris Sims, B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told The Canadian Press the case was an example of why the province should switch to private insurers.
"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," she said.
Sims said private insurers are better motivated to expedite claims and court processes because of the competition they face. She added taxpayers should not be on the hook for the damage and court costs.
B.C. Attorney-General David Eby said he's considering reforms to ICBC and many of those are out for consultation now.
"We all have concerns about drivers who cost more than they put into the system in premiums and one of those groups is luxury car owners," he said.
The case is ongoing.
With files from The Canadian Press