Vancouver: The British Columbia government is limiting ICBC rate increases for drivers, while embarking on a multi-year plan to fix the public insurer’s financial crisis, Attorney General David Eby announced onTuesday.
Immediate measures include an operational audit of ICBC with a goal of protecting the interests of B.C. drivers moving forward, rolling out 24-hour red-light cameras at high-collision intersections, and a pilot program of new technologies to eliminate distracted driving among high-risk groups.
ICBC had their largest financial loss in the organization’s history last year, losing more than half-a-billion dollars in 12 months.
“Drastic action is needed to fix ICBC’s devastating financial crisis, but B.C. drivers should not be forced to pay 20% basic rate hikes today because of mismanagement that goes back years,” Eby said.
Eby noted that legislation passed in 2010 allowed government to take unprecedented levels of cash out of ICBC. After that regulation was introduced, $1.2 billion was removed from ICBC and put into government’s general revenue.
“It’s unacceptable for government to treat ICBC like an ATM machine – and it cost B.C. drivers more than a billion dollars,” Eby said. “Our priority is to make sure that affordability for good drivers always comes first.”
Eby said there will be a 6.4% basic-rate increase this year, which is lower than the 20% rate hike that was recommended by the report commissioned by the previous government and released in July 2017.
The overall optional rate will be increased by 3.1% in the first quarter with subsequent quarterly increases of 2.2%, to a maximum of 9.6%. Individual policy rates will depend on the age of the vehicle, value and use of a vehicle, and where it is being driven. For an average driver, this is an annual blended increase between basic and optional of 8%, or $130.
“Our commitment to British Columbians is to make life more affordable for them – forcing 20% rate increases on drivers is a non-starter,” Eby said. “Our government is working overtime to clean up the mess we inherited in a way that minimizes impacts on drivers.”
In the short term, the government will move forward with a suite of actions to improve ICBC’s operations and reduce accident rates. These include:
- Launching an operational audit of the Crown corporation, the goal of which is to make sure this type of mismanagement can never happen again;
- Moving forward with a pilot project to evaluate distracted driving reduction technology;
- Activating red-light cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, up from the current six hours per day;
- Increasing public awareness of the risks of distracted driving through a new advertising campaign; and
- Introducing a dangerous roads initiative to identify and rapidly retrofit infrastructure, regulations and signage at dangerous roads and intersections.