(Finlayson Street at Douglas Street / ItkasanImages)

With ICBC set to lose $1.18 billion for their 2018-19 fiscal year, the provincial government is taking steps to try to help soften the blow.

One of the explicit changes that the government announced today includes a firm cap on the number of experts and expert reports that are allowed in a vehicle dispute by either side.

The limit is being instated after the government identified a “disproportionate use of experts and expert reports currently being used in motor vehicle-related court cases.”

The province says that the increased use of legal experts in court cases has lengthened litigations, and increased their costs. The cost of vehicle injury claims has risen by 43% in the past five years, says ICBC, and last year 20% of that increase was due to the use of court experts.

In the first three quarters of ICBC’s current fiscal year (April 1st – December 1st 2018), net claims cost the insurance company close to $5 billion, an increase of roughly $600 million over the same period last year.

The details

“The intent of these reforms is to avoid the costs and delays associated with the disproportionate use of experts and reports that we are seeing used today, without removing access to further expertise in situations where it’s necessary,” said Attorney General David Eby in a release.

“These changes are meant to encourage greater use of court-appointed or joint experts to provide a more neutral expert opinion and assist the court in determining appropriate amounts for injury claims.”

This new amendment will only allow each side to use one expert and report for “fast-track claims” (less than $100,000), and up to three experts each for larger claims. The judiciary will also be allowed to appoint additional joint experts at their discretion.

The change will come into effect immediately upon deposit for a motor vehicle-related action. The province says that the amendment will later apply to all personal injury claims as of February 1st, 2020, depending on further analysis as the changes roll out.

More details on ICBC changes are expected to be announced in coming weeks.