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Court of Appeal Rules that Massage Therapy is a Mandatory Benefit

The Court of Appeal recently clarified that massage therapy is a mandatory benefit and not a discretionary one in the case of Raguin v. ICBC, 2011 BCCA 482. On 1 Dec 2009 the plaintiffs in this case succeeded in obtaining an order from the Supreme Court of British Columbia that ICBC pay the cost of their massage therapy (a total of $742.00). ICBC appealed the decision arguing that it did not have to pay for massage therapy, even though it was recommended by the plaintiffs’ family doctor. The Court of Appeal disagreed with ICBC. Writing for a unanimous court, Madam Justice Rowles held that ICBC was obligated to pay for the massage therapy services. The court held that “physical therapy” mentioned in s. 88(1) of Part 7 of the Regulations to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, 2011 BCCA 482, included massage therapy. In doing so the Justice Rowles said the following:


[58] While the Regulation does not refer specifically to massage therapy in s.88(1), I am of the view that, when all of the relevant provisions in the Regulation are read together with the Health Professions Act and its related Regulations, physical therapy may properly be interpreted as including massage therapy. To be payable under s. 88(1), the other requirements must be met as stated in the section; that is “[w]here an insured is injured in an accident for which benefits are provided under this Part, the corporation shall…pay as benefits all reasonable expenses incurred by the insured as a result of the injury for necessary physical therapy…”


[59] In this case, the respondents’ doctor recommended massage therapy as part of the infant plaintiffs’ recovery. There is no suggestion that the recommended treatment was unnecessary or provide by someone other than a registered massage therapist, or that the expense was unreasonable.

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