ICBC ordered to pay, loses argument driver was racing
Jul 18 2012
A Victoria man who was denied coverage by the Insurance Corp. of B.C. after crashing his Corvette at Western Speedway will get a settlement after all.
Garth Nye, whose car crashed into a concrete wall, said he's elated by the B.C. Supreme Court ruling, released Tuesday.
"Obviously, I feel very good about it," Nye said. "It's been over two years that it has taken to go through the process."
At issue was whether Nye was violating ICBC regulations and the terms of his policy by taking part in a Victoria Corvette Club event advertised as "driver training" at Western Speedway.
The organizers created a track using turns, controlled stops and manoeuvres around pylons for the May 22, 2010, event.
The estimated speed of vehicles taking part was 60 to 70 kilometres an hour.
Nye was attempting to brake when his foot slipped onto the accelerator and his car crashed into the wall.
"It was probably the worst day of my life," Nye said Tuesday.
The front of the 1998 Corvette was crushed and the car was written off. But ICBC declined to process Nye's claim on the basis that he was driving his vehicle in a way that tested its limits. The insurer also suggested Nye was participating in a timed, competitive event.
Anyone insured through ICBC is prohibited from racing against others and from driving a vehicle in a way that pushes its limits.
Nye's lawyer decided there was a good case and went to court.
At trial on April 16 and 17, witnesses from the Victoria Corvette Club testified the event was not a competition.
"The evidence was that none of the participants were timed," wrote Justice Keith Bracken, who characterized the event as "advanced driver training."
Bracken concluded Nye was driving his vehicle well within its speed and turning limits.
Nye is expected to recoup the $20,000 he lost through the denied claim and court costs.
But he had a warning for others who decide to test their vehicles on the street or a closed track.
"If you're on the street and you decide to take a corner at the fastest that you can possibly do, and you have an accident, ICBC can - void your insurance," he said.
"If you're racing one of your buddies and you have an accident and ICBC can prove you're racing, the insurance is null and void."
An ICBC spokesman said the judgment was being reviewed and no decision had been made about whether to appeal.
"[We] would urge our customers to make safe driving a priority for their own safety and the safety of others," said Mark Jan Vrem, manager of media relations.