Canadian Underwriter

ICBC’s new approach to claims interactions with injured drivers

December 5, 2022   by Dr. Donna Bain

Car accident on highway with ambulance responding

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The new Enhanced Care model put in place by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) in Spring 2021 emphasizes proactive outreach to injured customers to help them recover, while also communicating about insurance benefits and processes.

Enhanced Care changed many things about ICBC’s claims service delivery, including how the provincial insurer builds relationships with injured customers – and aligns both parties around the mutual goal of injury recovery.

Communication theorists often define transactional conversations as intentionally brief and narrowly focused on specific information or tasks to be completed, such as an email exchange detailing information needed to make benefit decisions.

Interactional conversations, by contrast, reflect a desire to build a relationship. Instead of a one-time encounter, these exchanges require multiple interactions. They are interpersonal by nature and can include, for example, meeting with a customer and their care team in a hospital to discuss discharge planning.

Often, communications between ICBC and its customers combine both approaches. Experience with Enhanced Care shows when a shared recovery goal is the focus, two-way, goal-directed interactional communication outcomes improve.

Plus, changes were embedded within the organization.

Front-line claims staff are now known as ‘support and recovery specialists.’ That single change sent a strong message when customers received phone calls from someone with that title, as opposed to ‘adjuster’ or ‘file handler.’

The new approach, which features multiple interactional exchanges, took more time for both ICBC and its customers. But benefits include a better understanding of the customer, more effective claims management and, ultimately, improved customer recovery.

ICBC trained team members to engage in dialogues with customers to help better understand their unique situations and perspectives. That meant open-ended questions and bringing conversations back to the goal of how to progress through treatment to recovery.

Plus, the new process gathered information about necessary treatments from customers’ health care providers.

Of course, transactional communications remain important since they can provide clear information about benefits and how they’re accessed.

ICBC ensures customers making claims are told about all the benefits to which they’re entitled, such as income replacement, physical or occupational therapy, home support or grief counselling.

Under the new model, accident benefits are discussed in the context of what will meet the customer’s recovery needs based on medical information and the customer’s own description of the injury.

That’s important, because value for customers isn’t always created through a linear process, and not every injured person will achieve a full recovery. By helping identify next steps, these goal-based conversations created an openness with customers so team members could, when needed, have difficult or emotional conversations.

Since launching in May 2021, ICBC reported British Columbians are receiving significantly improved care, including recovery and income replacement benefits if they’re injured in a crash. And drivers have saved an average of $490, or approximately 28%, on their annual auto insurance premiums.


Dr. Donna Bain was a strategic advisor for ICBC’s Enhanced Care and helped lead its implementation. This article is excerpted from one that appeared in the December 2022-January 2023 issue of Canadian Underwriter. Feature image by