Hungry rats led a man to file multiple ICBC claims. Then the insurer withheld the cheddar

An Abbotsford man was getting no help from ICBC after rats caused thousands of dollars of damage to his vehicle… until Global News got involved. John Hua reports.

Soon after they moved into their rural Abbotsford home in 2016, Jeremy Crowhurst and his family started experiencing problems with their vehicles.

Turns out the culprits were the rats that nest throughout the property, who took a shine to the interiors of the family cars and started gnawing through the wiring, shorting out everything from the turn signals to the windshield wipers.

The rats’ dirty work has led to multiple insurance claims over the years, all of which have been paid out by ICBC.

But after Crowhurst took his new minivan into the mechanic last month over a problem with the heater fans, the insurer said it had had enough.

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“They said … clearly I’m not doing enough to solve the problem,” he said. “They said I have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent future damage if I’ve had a claim in the past.”

The $7,000 claim was sent to ICBC in December after two previous claims that same year over similar issues, both of which were settled.

As for the charge he’s not taking steps to tackle the rodent problem, Crowhurst says he’s hired multiple exterminators and brought a couple of cats to patrol the property.

“We were expecting some issue with rodents” when the family moved in, Crowhurst said. “But they just kept coming back.”

Crowhurst once held his comprehensive insurance policy under a different company, but says he switched everything over to ICBC last year.

He’s now wondering whether he made the right choice.

“If they think I’m a problem, they should’ve made an adjustment or terminated the policy,” he said.

“When they say, ‘no we’ll take your money but we’re not going to cover you,’ that’s pretty lousy.”

ICBC delivered the bad news two days before Christmas during an already trying time for Crowhurst, who has three severely autistic children and is facing his own health troubles, including a failed kidney transplant in June.

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That kidney transplant came after a Global News viewer donated their organ following a public appeal for help.

“Things are very difficult for us right now, and to have to deal with this, I can’t even tell you,” he said.

“It’s terrible.”

In a statement, ICBC said it is now reversing course and plans to honour Crowhurst’s claim, but didn’t answer what the regular threshold is for denying repeat claims.

“Following our customer’s concerns, we’ve conducted another detailed review of the claim and advised the customer that we will accept this claim,” the insurer said.

“We will now work on determining the value of the claim.”

As for the rats, Crowhurst has laid more traps and taken additional steps to hide attractants like garbage.

He’s also looking into fencing to protect the property from adjoining homes that also have rat problems.

“Maybe I’ll build a wall and ICBC will pay for it,” he said with a laugh.

—With files from John Hua

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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