Tag Archives: ICBC

BC Hydro Screws You and Trees

car insurance, accidents, BC Hydro, tree trimming, Asplundh, responsibility,

My car is the far right one, just before the mulcher mangles it but that doesn’t mean anything happened except passing the buck.

I’m sure this will be of interest only to a select few, but it’s a tale with a lesson in futility, passing the buck, negligence and damage. In BC our electricity is handled by a company called BC Hydro, which once was provincially owned but now it’s not clear how much of it is privatized. They maintain the power grid, which includes checking power lines that lines ever street in their own unsightly web.

One day last August, I came out of my place to find these guys mulching tree branches that they cut down from the trees encroaching on the lines. BC Hydro has all sorts of information, including this blurb:

Tree control pruning

BC Hydro regularly prunes trees that might grow into power lines. These trees are generally pruned on an established cycle. The specifications call for pruning practices that will not only provide for safety clearances, but are also the best for the trees.

Studies in arboriculture (the care of trees) have shown that certain forms of pruning are much less damaging to the health of the tree than others. BC Hydro has adopted a standard that calls for “natural target” pruning, which may initially remove more of the tree canopy than some other methods and may appear excessive, but contributes to the health of the tree in the long run and prevents severe cutting.

Well, I had to squeeze past the mulching machine, that was along side my car, to actually drive to work. When I parked and got out of my car I noticed (because I’d spent 5 hours washing my car the week before) that my bumper had been scraped and banged into, which cracked the paint. I was mad but knew it would be hard to prove. I also have other nicks and scratches on other parts of my bumper because if you try to claim it you get to pay something like a $200 deductible and your insurance could go up for all those dings.

So when I get home and I’m talking to my two neighbors we look up at the trees and notice the butchering. In some cases they didn’t cut the limbs away from the wires and in others, they chopped the tree so badly that as it continues to grow it will be more weighted on one side causing the branch to break or the tree to topple. Wow. The above statement (which takes some hunting on their site) seems to be an ideal they do not strive for.

I called up to complain about the tree mangling, unsightly at best, and also mentioned them banging into my car. BC Hydro tells me to file a complaint and an insurance claim with my car insurance. I was skeptical at best and already noticed the buck passing but I decided to do this as an experiment. I  have two car insurances; one half is private with Family Insurance. The other is mandatory through the provincially run ICBC.

Date of Accident: July, 2011 (it’s been so long I can’t rightly remember). Complaint filed with BC Hydro: Aug. 17, 2011. Letter from BC Hydro that they send to my landlady instead of to me: Sept. 27, 2011. In that letter BC Hydro says: oh no, it wasn’t us. It was our contractor Asplundh Tree Experts Co. Experts? I could do better with no knowledge of arboriculture. So BC Hydro can now weasel out of any responsibility. I call Asplundh. ICBC tells me it’s the Family Insurance side so I enter a long convoluted dialogue with a cynical man who queries, as devils advocate he says, as to how I could prove that they did the damage. I say, I know I can’t but I know it was them and that I was told to do this by BC Hydro.

We go back and forth, forth and back. Then Asplundh contacts him, after I tried calling them three times but to no reply. Asplundh wants photos of my car, which I take, as well as having a picture of the day that the mulcher mashed my car.  I send the cynical insurance guy the information. I email to see that he has received them. I email again and again and again. I get busy and forget about it, then email again.

car, car insurance, damaged car, Asplundh, BC Hydro, responsibility, mulching

Well, it could be worse, right? At least they didn’t drop a tree on my car. Creative Commons:Jason Edward Scott Bain, flickr

My prediction at the beginning was that no one will admit to anything and in the end my bumper will look the same because I can’t afford to pay the deductible every time. Eventually, I get an email from a different insurance adjuster with the blather that nothing can be done or proven. It seems maybe the previous adjuster quit. I’d bet money that my insurance company didn’t really even try to support me. I’ll bet anything that Asplundh just ignored them.

So what have I learned?

  • BC Hydro gets out of responsibility by subcontracting and not checking their contractors’ work.
  • Asplundh doesn’t give a rat’s fart how well they do anything nor hold their workers to any culpability.
  • Family Insurance isn’t there to support the insured, even in giving information. This also means they’ll be losing my business come time to renew my car insurance.
  • The next time I see any city workers in any form on my street I’m going to stop and take pictures of my car, of them and of their vehicles.

Thankfully, I looked at this as an experiment and didn’t expect a resolution. Too bad we’re running on such a lack of honor.

There, I feel better now.

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Hit and Run, and Gang Killings

A couple were killed walking home on Saturday, by an 18-year-old driver, possibly drinking and speeding, who then tried to run from the scene by leaping into False Creek. (False Creek is indeed false and only a puddle really.) The police dogs tracked him down.

And on the news they talk about how that 18-25 year range of male drivers tend to have the highest accident rate because they take bigger risks. That poor couple don’t get another chance. Their lives are stopped short and early. The driver will. A speaker today said that BC has some of the toughest driving measures for getting a license and it has dropped deaths caused by young drivers by 20%. The accidents have cost the province $1.6 billion dollars.

So here’s one suggestion to get young people from driving like crazy maniacs while drinking. Make public transport more accessible. This is one of my pet peeves. Take some of that $1.6 billion and run the SkyTrain later than 12:30 am on weekends especially. Make it reliable and frequent. Run other buses that will take people from the bars. Taxis are too expensive for almost everyone so TransLink and ICBC and the city should get together and figure out that alternative ways of getting home after being at the bar will save lives and dollars. Make it part of the infrastructure.

For that couple and all the people killed by cars every week, it doesn’t make much difference. Such a waste, because someone wants to speed and show off and be tough or sexy or whatever power they think driving fast imbues. But we can also blame car manufacturers that put out numerous ads equating speed with sex and cool. Zoom zoom zoom. Just look at a billboard or an ad on TV and you know what I’m talking. Since Canada successfully sued the tobacco industry for health costs with cancer, maybe it’s time to sue the car companies for encouraging unsafe driving.

The other half of people dying this week in Greater Vancouver is the six shootings in seven days of various organized crime/gangster members. Brazen shootings in broad daylight in malls. So far, no one innocent (as in, not involved in these gangs) has been hit but that doesn’t negate last year’s rampage of gang shootings where several innocent men were murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I cannot imagine the horror of what they had to endure in those last moments. And of course their families and loved ones will pay the price forever of organized crime.

The only good thing about the shootings it that they’re eliminating themselves but there will always be other scum that rises to the top, the shooter that lives. If I had my way I’d punt them all to the moon without spacesuits. But I don’t, and the police aren’t having as much luck tracking them down.

I’ve said it before; I hate this type of growing up that Vancouver has had to face. Sure, every city has murders but we could still count them under 100. They were crimes of violence and passion but still few and very rare. The gangland shootings are almost doubling our numbers and innocent people are getting hurt. Shootings in malls? I’d like us to go back to the little granola city where the pace is slow and we have more restaurants than days in the year.

I’ll happily sign any petition that gets rid of these guys. It’s never good news if organized crime is involved. Police are asking people to deny service to known gang members. Not a bad idea. Like days of old, a tribe would ostracize a member who committed a terrible crime, ignoring them like they didn’t exist. These outcasts usually moved on or died of loneliness.

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