02/20/2013 07:21 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Couple to pay ICBC $200K in attempted fraud

A couple has been ordered to pay the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia more than $200,000, after lying about a serious collision in hopes of saving about $800 in premiums.

Amarjeet Panag's Chevy Malibu hit an oncoming van in Surrey in May 2006 when she missed a stop sign at a busy intersection. The collision caused serious damage and significant injury.

She gave the name of a family friend, Harinder Grewal, as a purportedly independent witness. Grewal never saw the crash but mirrored Panag's claim that the oncoming car had run through a pedestrian-operated red light.

After growing suspicious, ICBC sued the Panags for the costs of the accident and their investigation. A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Wednesday that the insurers can recover the $188,722.86 in costs and damages and pre-judgment interest.

In an unusual move, Judge Christopher Grauer docked a further $10,000 in punitive damages from each of the Panags, for sticking to their doctored story throughout the trial.

Grauer labelled their friend, Harinder Grewal, as a "self-confessed liar."

Grauer waived off the couple's assertion that they wouldn't create such an elaborate lie simply to avoid about 800 dollars in additional insurance fees, noting in his judgement that "rationality is seldom the partner of deception."