B.C. court says ICBC fails onus to prove fraud allegations

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) failed to prove an insured tried to defraud the corporation by faking the theft of his minivan, and B.C.'s provincial court ordered the public insurer to allow the claim.
In Brummitt vs. ICBC, Michael Brummitt filed a claim in June 2005 with ICBC that his 1999 Dodge Caravan was stolen from his driveway. A day or two later, the vehicle was recovered by police; the interior was extensively damaged by a fire that appeared to be deliberately set.
The theft occurred only days before the vehicle's insurance was due for renewal.
ICBC denied liability, alleging Brummitt took the mini-van or arranged with others to simulate a theft.
If a claimant asserts under oath that the vehicle was taken without his or her consent, the claimant does not have to prove that he or she did not participate in the loss, wrote Provincial Court of British Columbia Justice Ross Tweedale.
If the insurer alleges the claimant participated in the theft, that is an allegation of fraud the insurer must prove.
Fraud is a quasi-criminal allegation; accordingly, an insurer must prove fraud on a more stringent standard than simply a balance of probabilities, the judge wrote.
"Despite some aspects of Mr. Brummitt's evidence, his claim that his minivan was stolen is not highly unlikely," Tweedale found. He added that the evidence presented provided a basis for the conclusion that there were a number of ways for the Dodge to have been taken without Brummitt's knowledge.
"ICBC has not proven that Mr. Brummitt tried to defraud the corporation."