Paramedics at a crash scene near Penticton Nov. 18. Bodily injury claims have been increasing in recent years.

ICBC to seek 2012 rate increase

ICBC is applying for a basic insurance rate increase, as bodily injury claims increase.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. has announced it is applying for an increase to its mandatory basic vehicle insurance for 2012 to help cover an increase in claims and a decline in investment income.

ICBC president Jon Schubert said Tuesday the corporation’s bodily injury claims have jumped, contributing to a $200 million increase in overall claims in the first nine months of 2011. Annual bodily injury claims have climbed by $350 million in the past five years, and are expected to reach $1.7 billion this year.

“We have not increased our rates since 2007 and there have been a number of rate decreases during that time,” Schubert said.

ICBC reported net income for the first nine months of the year of $52 million, down from $331 million in the same period in 2010. Despite that, its rate change application to the B.C. Utilities Commission will seek to decrease rates on its optional coverage, where it faces competition from private insurance companies.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon cited ICBC’s revenue decline as the biggest factor in the B.C. government’s worsening deficit position. Quarterly results for the provincial treasury show a projected deficit of $3.1 billion for the year ending in March, up $313 million from the July estimate.

Falcon said insurance companies around the world have seen investment income fall off with the continued economic slump in the United States and instability in Europe. Schubert said most of ICBC’s investments have been moved into short-term bonds in response to the volatility of financial markets.