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Tribunal finds B.C. woman drove into flooded road, denies damage claim

Following the November 2021 floods, a B.C. woman went to the Civil Resolution Tribunal in hopes of getting a $500 ICBC deductible returned and a collision taken off her driving record.
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Drivers across Metro Vancouver dealt with localized flooding from the atmospheric river that hit southern B.C. in late 2021.

A B.C. woman has lost her small claims case against ICBC to get damages she said were caused by an atmospheric river event in 2021.

Michelle Kovacs told the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal that her vehicle was damaged during the November flooding.

In her claim, she said ICBC improperly held her at fault for her vehicle’s water damage. Kovacs asked the tribunal for the collision to be removed from her insurance and for reimbursement of her $500 deductible.

ICBC, however, said it properly classified the incident as a collision under Kovacs’ insurance policy and denied Kovacs was entitled to any deductible reimbursement.

Kovacs said she was driving northbound on 208 Street near 96 Avenue in Langley on Nov. 16, 2021 when she noticed the road in front of her was flooded. She said she stopped her 2006 Acura TL, but kept it running, before driving into the water on the road. However, she said only the nose of her car was in the water.

She told the tribunal several large commercial trucks passed her in both directions and caused large waves of water to hit her vehicle, eventually flooding her engine and interior.

She said the engine cut out and when she tried to restart it, it would not run. A tow truck was called and the vehicle was towed to her home.

“It is undisputed the vehicle damage was caused by water in the engine,” tribunal vice-chair Andrea Ritchiesaid in her May 30 decision. “Eventually, ICBC determined the vehicle was not worth repairing and was written off, and Ms. Kovacs paid a $500 deductible.”

Ritchie explained the issue before her was whether the water damage is a "collision" or a "comprehensive" claim under Kovacs’ insurance policy.

Kovacs said ICBC wrongly called the incident a collision claim, and argued it should be a claim under her comprehensive insurance because the damage was due to rising water while her vehicle was stopped.

ICBC, however, argued Kovacs drove into a body of water, colliding with an object (the water), causing damage to her engine and the car’s interior.

The tribunal ruled witness statements coupled with initial comments made by Kovacs indicated she had driven into the water.

“I find that Ms. Kovacs drove into the flooded road, her engine seized while doing so, and she was stuck,” Ritchie said in dismissing the claim.