Rising accident rates and payout costs have ICBC expecting a $1 billion deficit this year. (Black Press files)

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

When the Insurance Corp. of B.C.’s new restrictions on “pain and suffering” payouts and court experts take effect April 1, B.C.’s monopoly vehicle insurance system will be “substantially the same as Alberta’s” but with higher premiums, says a new report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The private insurance group has been lobbying for B.C. to open up basic vehicle insurance to competition, as ICBC struggles with soaring injury claim and legal costs. The B.C. government has imposed sweeping reforms to try to cut costs, as it faces a deficit of more than $1 billion for the fiscal year that ends March 31.

The Insurance Bureau retained accounting firm MNP to examine auto insurance rates and payouts in Alberta and B.C., for the same vehicles with $1 million third party liability, $500 deductible collision, $250 deductible and uninsured motorist protection.

“With the changes coming on April 1, the auto insurance systems in B.C. and Alberta will be substantially similar, with the key difference being who sells auto insurance in each province,” said Susan Mowbray, a manager at MNP. “That difference has contributed to drivers in B.C. paying more than their neighbours in Alberta for similar coverage.”

READ MORE: B.C. limits ‘duelling experts’ in ICBC injury cases

READ MORE: ICBC expecting $1.18 billion loss as caps take effect

ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan said Thursday the latest changes make the corporation “work again for drivers, without losing the virtues of public insurance” that include its CounterAttack road checks and operating driver licensing.

“No private insurer invests in police enforcement, road safety improvement projects and makes sure that anyone who gets a licence in B.C. is safe to drive,” Linsangan said. “No private insurer could come into B.C. and offer the rates they offer in Alberta. Our system and cost pressures are very different and the levels of coverage provided to British Columbia far outweigh those in other provinces.”

ICBC has argued that higher accident rates are an issue across North America, despite safety improvements to roads and vehicles.

Attorney General David Eby says B.C. is not considering going to a no-fault insurance system, and the adversarial court method is being retained for major injuries. Another change taking effect April 1 diverts minor injury claims to an administrative tribunal.

Those changes will affect about 80 per cent of injury claims, and have sparked a legal challenge from the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., arguing the court’s independence is being affected.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Newly renovated Casino of the Rockies officially re-opens

After months of extensive renovations, St. Eugene hosted a ceremony and re-opening of a space “in harmony with Mother Earth and our indigenous culture.”

Senior Bandits stay alive in district playoff action

The Cranbrook Bandits were able to stave off elimination by beating the Bitterroot Bucs 6-3

Cranbrook man in custody on several weapons offences

A Cranbrook man is facing 10 weapon-related charges after alleged assault with bear spray

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Four in custody after armed robbery, suspects linked to other recent crimes

Four people are in custody after Cranbrook RCMP responded to a robbery… Continue reading

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read