ICBC ordered to pay widow $400,000 after refusing spousal benefit following husband’s death

The BC Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered ICBC to pay a woman $400,000 after denying her spousal benefit in the death of her husband.

The insurance corporation says it denied Grazzel Pabilona Dion the funds because she was not living with her husband, Ghislain Dion, when he was killed in a motorcycle crash in 2022.

ICBC claimed the woman did not meet the requirements to be defined as his “spouse” under the Enhanced Accident Benefits Regulation.

But the tribunal ruled otherwise, explaining the complexity of their relationship at the time was not considered.

The decision notes say the woman had been living separately from her husband for several months before he died, however, the vice-chair ruled the two were never truly separated.

“I find that there is no evidence either Mr. or Mrs. Dion ever communicated to the other an intention to permanently separate. While they lived in separate residences, they continued to parent together, spend time together, and celebrate family events together. They travelled as a family. Their friends and family all considered them to be a couple who was still together and working on improving their relationship,” the ruling from Vice-Chair Eric Regehr released Friday explained.

“There is little evidence about how they arranged their finances before or after January 2022, but there is no evidence the arrangements had changed.”

The couple was married in 2014 and shared children, the tribunal notes explain.

ICBC will now have to pay Dion $407,209.11 within 30 days. This includes $380,000 in spousal death benefits alone, and more than $27,000 in interest.