Over 440 contaminated vehicles are being stored locally, held in evidence as part of ICBC’s lawsuit. (Trail Times file photo)

Vehicle write-offs near 700 after Trail acid spills

Family Insurance received 600+ claims to date; one-in-three written off due to acid contamination

A second insurer has confirmed another 200+ vehicles have been written off due to sulphuric acid spills on the highway that runs through Trail.

That’s in addition to the 440+ vehicles ICBC took off the road due to acid contamination following the April 10 and/or May 23, 2018 acid spills.

Family Insurance, an independent insurer based in Vancouver, was set up in Champion Chevrolet for several weeks last summer as their experts tested hundreds of vehicles for acid.

For the first time, the company shared the outcome with the Trail Times.

“Family Insurance received more than 600 claims as a result of the Trail acid spills,” Chief Operating Officer Graham Doerr told the Times.

“We have written off about one vehicle for every three claims received,” he continued.

“This was a significant event for our business. With so many customers impacted, our claims team has focused on getting them back on the road as quickly and smoothly as possible.”

Read more: One year after Trail acid spill, claims still trickling in

Read more: Where it all began; Trail Times reader calls in tip

Read more: Acid spill, Times readers pick top story of 2018

Doerr says claims were still coming in earlier this year, though the window of opportunity to file with Family Insurance is up to two years.

“We were receiving claims until February 2019, but they now seemed to have slowed down significantly,” he added. “Customers are encouraged to submit a claim as soon as possible.”

That’s because the more time that passes between an event such as the Trail acid spills, and the moment a claim is filed, the harder it becomes to investigate.

“A qualified engineer is inspecting all vehicles to ensure a fair and reliable assessment of the losses incurred by each customer,” Doerr said.

“This also helps us identify and manage any opportunistic or fraudulent claims that add to the time and expense of helping genuinely impacted customers.”

As far as the vehicles written-off, Doerr says the company’s National Claims Team is currently holding them in storage.

He declined to discuss if Family Insurance is considering a lawsuit to recover such extraordinary costs.

“We continue to assess the situation and cannot comment at this time,” Doerr stated.

According to the latest report, roughly 4,450 claims have been submitted specifically to ICBC. Of those, about 10 per cent of the vehicles have been deemed unsafe to drive due to sulphuric acid contamination.

“A minimal number of claims are still coming in,” ICBC spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins told the Times.

“Any customer may still file a claim with us, but we anticipate the vast majority of claims related to this incident have already been filed.”

In the past year, transportation operations from Teck Trail have changed, according to product purchaser and shipper, International Raw Materials (IRM).

Read more: IRM reports small acid lead

Read more: IRM updates acid transport operations from Trail smelter

A new company, Trimac Transportation, has been contracted to carry the caustic fluid from the Trail smelter to railcars in Waneta. Additionally, IRM reports four designated trailers, specifically designed for Trail operations, are being used.

“IRM is directly operating the Waneta-based transload station,” IRM spokesperson Carrie Gaines said. “We have hired local operators and positioned managers at the site to oversee day-to-day business.”



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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