Busted rims or broken axles? Call the city to pay up

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 (gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca, or dlwatts@surrey.ca for example), you just might get some action. It’s worth a try.


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.

Vancouver and Surrey set aside $35 million for insurance claims
Double double drive-thru trouble

Broken image or link? Click here to report it or visit citycaucus.com/typo.

About The Author

  • Dan Carlow

    Hi there. Disabled and wheelchair bound, I am constantly frustrated by the non-removal of snow on city sidewalks in South Van, such as would enable me to go to a nearby mall [Oakridge], to buy groceries. Albeit without hiring a taxi every time. Not to minimize the fact I had to get a prescription yesterday, Jan 07, at the Safeway in the mall also… Such is frequently the case, as I get all my prescriptions there. As well I have a doctor in the same mall, where I often need to go to get prescriptions each time I need a refill. There is no closer drugstore, incidentally. I try to synchronize visits for food, with those for prescriptions where possible and/or convenient
    There are a lot of seniors in the neighbourhood, and few children, which in some way justifies or exacerbates the inattention given to clearing sidewalks, and I appreciate the city’s difficulty in keeping everybody happy, but in my position I suppose I must get down on my good knee that is, and beg that a solution be found. Doctors, for one, do like to charge for missed appointments these days; and there are disadvantages both to not-eating as well as missing doses of many medications. I think a bylaw calling for or demanding the attention to clearing sidewalks would not be uncalled for nor too much to ask for [unreasonable] Just because we in Vancouver seldom see any great quantities of snow, is no reason to not call for its removal within a reasonable amount of time [a bylaw I believe is in place for businesses and apartments].
    Hoping I have not wasted too much of someones time for reading this, yours truly,
    Dan Carlow

  • Sharon Townsend

    there are 19 Business Improvement Associations in the city of Vancouver. Why not provide them the resources (read money) and the mandate to insure crosswalks and bus stops are clear.
    Going through 10 days after the fact to do the job seems rather pointless. The crisis began December 21 – not January 5. BIAs could engage social agencies for added social benefit.
    Costs would be significantly less, it would happen exactly when it was needed, and everyone wins – taxpayers, business owners and pedestrians. The only complaint I could see would come from those that would miss the overtime.

  • vanessa Griffiths

    I lived in alberta the last two years and if your side wasn’t cleared outside your property, you would be fined, and this was the same for access to public spaces, malls etc.
    Why should it be any different here?

  • Thanks for this post!
    My vehicle suffered significant damage due to a severe pothole collection on the Granville Bridge and am going to try and follow-up!

  • It was my understanding that the city would be more inclined to reimburse a motorist if the city had been notified of the pothole in advance of the incident, and it wasn’t fixed. For this reason, it is advisable to notify the city of any potholes that might cause damage. Just call 311~