July 28, 2020 by David Gambrill
A driver in B.C. is out $1,777 for incorrectly telling the public auto insurer that damage to his parked vehicle was the result of a “hit-and-run,” as opposed to collision damage.
Jiameng Wang took Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) to small claims court to pay for damage to his car, arguing that the insurer had wrongly denied his claim.
ICBC told the court that Wang made a “hit-and-run” claim. But after examining the car, the insurer said there was no vehicle-to-vehicle contact, as required for hit-and-run coverage. ICBC says that under Section 75 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Wang forfeited insurance coverage by making a false statement that there was vehicle-to-vehicle contact.
Before the small claims court, Wang acknowledged that English was his second language. He told the court he did not necessarily mean another vehicle hit his car, but rather that “something” crashed into it while he was away from his parked vehicle. He speculated in court that the damage could have been caused by a collision with a big truck or a car with a special bumper. Wang said ICBC should cover the damage whether it was a “hit-and-run” or a collision claim.
The court heard that on Sept. 20, 2019, Wang legally parked his 2011 Audi Q7 vehicle “off road” on Bowen Road in Nanaimo to go swimming. He says that when he returned, he found his vehicle with “huge damage,” namely a “big dent with some scratches” in the left rear door. There were no witnesses or dash cam footage. Wang said he did not call the police, but reported the damage to ICBC that same evening.
Wang provided ICBC with a signed and witnessed statement on Oct. 3, 2019. In that document, he wrote that Sept. 20, 2019, was the last time he saw his vehicle without damage; on that day, he parked around 4 p.m. to go swimming. He wrote that he parked in an off-road parking area beside a trail entrance. He said nothing in the document about another vehicle hitting his car and did not otherwise describe how the damage occurred.
On Oct. 28, 2019, Wang submitted to ICBC his application for “hit-and-run” coverage under Section 24 of the IVA. On that application, he initialed that his car’s property damage resulted from the negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle, and that the other vehicle’s owner and driver were unknown to him.
ICBC’s employees examined the car and found that the damage was not consistent with vehicle-to-vehicle impact. In particular, the insurer said the damage was low, with sharp scratching, heavy gouging, and a non-automotive yellow paint transfer. In the claim file notes, ICBC employees concluded the yellow paint transfer was due to barrier paint, not paint from another vehicle.
B.C.’s small claims court did not give ICBC’s documented evidence credence because the ICBC estimators who created the document weren’t in court to confirm their qualifications.
But the court found the discrepancies between Wang’s documented statements, as well as the fact that he did not submit any evidence to prove his claim about a hit-and-run, were sufficient to deny the claim.
“On balance, I find the weight of the evidence shows Mr. Wang’s vehicle damage was not the result of vehicle-to-vehicle contact,” B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal Member Shelley Lopez wrote. “So, I find that Mr. Wang’s Oct. 28, 2019 sworn declaration that his vehicle’s damage being a result of another vehicle’s negligent operation was untrue.”