If your car is damaged due to poor road conditions you may be in luck
There is a little secret that some city officials don't want you to know about when your car is damaged due to their negligence: there's a lot of dough stashed away at city hall in case they mess up. And you might be entitled to some some of it if you or your property have been impacted.
A lot of people aren't aware that cities have programs to compensate people if their property has been damaged. That's likely because cities don't promote it, and it costs them less to have you go the traditional route of making a claim with your insurer than to ask them for compensation.
A friend of mine was telling me about an experience he had in Toronto. He was driving over a massive pot hole when both his tires blew out causing about $600 dollars in damage to the vehicle. Needless to say, he was a bit miffed that the City of Toronto hadn't repaired the pot hole, let alone put any marker in front of it to redirect traffic.
In the end, he repaired the car and brought down the receipts to City Hall to complain about what had happened. To his amazement, when he asked for compensation, a clerk told him he might actually be eligible. He simply couldn't believe what he was hearing.
Within a few weeks, he had signed a waiver indicating he was not going to sue the City, and they cut him a cheque for the full amount of his repairs. No car insurance deductible also meant he saved a few hundreds bucks.
It's not easy to find, but you will discover a few references to the risk management program on the City of Vancouver's website.
"The Department manages the City’s extensive insurance portfolio and self-insurance programs, handles all third party liability claims against the City, collections claims for damage to City property, and are the City’s liaison with our vehicle insurance carrier with respect to insurance and claims for licensed City vehicles."
A job posting from 1998 also stated:
"Risk Management employs professional claims investigators and adjusters who are knowledgable and experienced in the legal and administrative aspects of claims handling."
There are a LOT of people in Vancouver and surrounding municipalities right now who've had their vehicles damaged due to a lack of snow removal or because of exposed pot holes.
If traffic reports are accurate, there will be a lot of folks out there who will have recently experienced severe damage to their vehicles due to the condition of Vancouver's road system over the last couple of weeks.
If ICBC wanted to reduce the amount of claims they pay out, they'd be wise to invest some time in educating their customers as to what all their options are regarding compensation.
Rather than bring a class-action lawsuit (which is simply not Canadian) against cities in the Metro Vancouver area for leaving our roads in such poor condition, I think a few Vancouver residents may want to seek direct compensation if they feel the City was negligent during Snowmageddon.
I did try to locate the phone number and email address of the Risk Management department in Vancouver, but simply gave up. However, I do know if you send your claim right to the top by emailing your local mayor (firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com for example), you just might get some action. It's worth a try.
METRO VANCOUVER CONTACTS
If you want to reach your mayor or city council elected representative about your damage claims, you can find a comprehensive list of other emails and phone numbers on the Metro Vancouver web page:
If any of our readers do end up filing a claim, be sure to drop CityCaucus.com a line and let us know about your experience.
Note: as we were posting this story a local radio broadcaster, Mark Madryga (CKNW/Global News) has been discussing how his car was damaged by a pothole today. Maybe Mark will take our advice and call city hall.