Carfra Lawton LLP | Victoria BC

Tell ICBC the truth about who is the principal operator of your car!

In Lau v Insurance Corporation of British Columbia 2014 BCCA 442 22 year old Victa Lau collided with another vehicle when driving his 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI worth $40,000.

The WRX was a total loss and the driver was deemed 100% at fault. The plaintiff Yu Lau, who is Victa’s father, represented to ICBC in his application for insurance when he bought the vehicle that he was to be the principal operator. Yu Lau provided statement to ICBC following the collision that he had been the principal operator.

ICBC denied the plaintiffs’ claim on the basis that both the application and statement contained misrepresentations as to the principal operator

Several facts led the court to this reluctant conclusion: Yu Lau was the principal operator of a 2005 Lexus he bought three months before the WRX, his wife owned and operated a Toyota, Yu Lau owned two other vehicles he could not afford to insure, he bought the WRX on credit at steep interest rates, the WRX was the kind of car a young man would like, Victa picked up the car from the dealership and Yu Lau could remember very few of the specifications of this high performance car.

ICBC argued that Yu Lau used his 43% claim-rated scale discount to insure the high performance car for the plaintiff at modestly lower premiums.

The trial judge relied on a 2008 Supreme Court of Canada case (F.H. v McDougall) in finding that there is only one civil standard of proof at common law: the balance of probabilities. The 1999 BC Court of Appeal case of Bevacqua, which found that something substantially more was required in cases such as this, where something like fraud is alleged, is no longer the law of BC.

The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s finding and dismissed the appeal in favor of the defendant, ICBC.

Case summary by: Reza Sadeghi-Yekta