June 12, 2006 by Canadian Underwriter
ICBC has filed a civil lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court, seeking to recover more than CD$377,000 from 24 people alleged to be involved in conspiracies to defraud ICBC.
In a press release, ICBC says “it is suspected the claimants intentionally caused motor vehicle collisions and then made fraudulent claims to ICBC for compensation.”
ICBC is seeking to recover its claims costs and legal bills associated with the allegedly false insurance claims. It also seeks damages resulting from investigative costs, punitive damages, interest and additional legal costs.
“ICBC has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to fraud,” Mark Withenshaw, ICBC vice president of loss management, said. “We will not sit back and simply pass the cost of fraud onto our customers.”
In its statement of claim, ICBC alleges that various defendants, mostly residing in Abbotsford, B.C., were involved in 12 related incidents of insurance fraud.
The claims are said to have first occurred in 1995, and involved intentional collisions between vehicles driven by people who knew each other. Occupants of the vehicles later denied these relationships and/or failed to inform ICBC, in order to conceal the facts that the collisions were intentional.
Many of the collisions are also said to have occurred when one of the defendants failed to stop at a stop sign, or proceeded through a stop sign intersection when it was not safe to do so. And it is alleged that several of the defendants were involved in more than one incident.
For example, in one October 1999 incident, three of the defendants were in a car struck by a vehicle operated by a fourth defendant, who failed to stop at a stop sign.
The circumstances of each of the 12 related incidents are set out in greater detail in the court documents filed by ICBC. The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.
“ICBC combats fraud to deter others and to recover fraudulent payments. While ICBC seeks to identify potential fraud before the claim is paid, we will also pursue fraudulent claims through civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions,” ICBC’s manager of fraud prevention and investigation, Stephen Tripp, said.
According to ICBC, “B.C. motorists saved more than CD$73 million in 2005 thanks to ICBC anti-fraud programs. Savings are based on the estimated value of fraudulent claims which were denied, money recovered and savings generated through fraud prevention.”