Ouch! My ICBC insurance rates are going up as much as 42% over the next five years according to an article in the Province newspaper. I already paid $630 this year for the privilege of having my fellow British Columbians help me pay for collision liability if I make a mistake and crash my pickup. I’m not looking forward to paying $895 in 2021, but when you consider how much you could be on the hook for if you didn’t have insurance, even that doesn’t look too bad.
If you are a fan of B.C. politics, this is an interesting situation. ICBC tried to have the B.C. Utilities Commission (which oversees the setting of ICBC rates on behalf of taxpayers) keep their increase forecast under wraps. The Commission ultimately refused to do this.
The N.D.P. points out that this is an attempt by the Liberals to hide bad news just prior to an election.
The provincial government takes “dividends” out of ICBC coffers that could have remained for investment and the reduction of our insurance rates.
ICBC rightly points out that insurance rates have been impacted by the cost of bodily injury claims, insurance fraud and the cost of repairing high end vehicles. If I’m reading their annual report correctly, the cost of claims totalled just over 4 billion dollars in 2015. That’s for an average (2009 to 2013) of 52,000 injury crashes (about 142 per day).
Fraud costs us all between $100 and $150 per year according to ICBC, which is definitely significant in my view. Both ICBC and the Insurance Bureau of Canada hope that we’ll all help by reporting frauds. In fact, ICBC has two units that work to expose fraud, the Special Investigations Unit and the Cyber Unit that uses information available on the internet and social media to catch offenders.
Examples of frauds are highlighted in ICBC’s 2015 Hall of Shame and Cyber Fraud files.
To the contrary, a pair of lawyers from the law firm Murphy Battista in Vancouver think that insurance fraud is only a drop in the bucket of claims each year.
I don’t understand refusing to insure high end vehicles as a cost cutting measure though. ICBC and other insurance companies know how much these vehicles cost and how much they cost to repair. Setting an appropriate premium for the risk is what an insurance company is all about. If they do cost six times as much to repair, surely the rates should be six times higher.
The Fraser Institute is a Canadian think tank that, in part, communicates the effects of government policies on our well being. Their last report claims that B.C. drivers are paying rates that are too high due to a lack of competition.
So, how do we as drivers decide what is reasonable and what is not for our mandatory vehicle insurance purchase? The true answer probably lies somewhere in the middle of all of this.
I’d be willing to bet that if we quit crashing into things our rates would be much lower. That may seem trite, but we do it about 700 times a day in this province.
Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)
DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.