ICBC reverses policy on charging cyclists, pedestrians damages for some collisions

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) says it is changing its policy on charging cyclists and pedestrians for damages when they are at least partly responsible for a collision with a vehicle.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Wednesday the auto insurer, in its decision to reverse the policy, considered the concerns of cycling advocates and cyclists who have been recently billed for damages following serious crashes.

"The previous approach was not reflective of the changes we've made to auto insurance in British Columbia and that needed to be fixed," Farnworth said.

ICBC will no longer seek to recover damages in collisions where a cyclist or pedestrian is killed or suffers a severe injury. The insurer will also not seek to recover costs when both parties are deemed equally liable for a crash.

In instances where a cyclist or pedestrian suffers a minor injury, damage claims will be considered by a committee of experts, ICBC said in a statement.

"These changes mean that, moving forward, the instances of when ICBC may seek recovery from cyclists or pedestrians will be much more limited," the insurer said.

ICBC president and CEO Nicolas Jimenez said the insurance corporation will keep looking for ways to improve its no-fault insurance model.

"We feel the changes are a move in the right direction to support cyclists and vulnerable road users across the province, and we thank ICBC for recognizing the issues and being open to listening to the ongoing concerns of our members," said BC Cycling Coalition executive director Mike Koski.

The change was triggered in part by the complaints of Ben Bollinger, a cyclist who was struck by a car and seriously injured while riding in Vancouver. He was later billed $3,700 for repairs to the car's hood and windshield.

"ICBC was recently provided with a final report from police on Mr. Bolliger's claim," the insurer said Wednesday. "That information was new to ICBC and has led to a change in the liability decision to hold the driver of the vehicle 100 per cent responsible for the crash. Mr. Bolliger is therefore not responsible for any damages or costs and will be fully compensated for damages to his bicycle and any other items."

With a file from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure